Tag Archives: Married Life

Changing Your Last Name: How to Decide What’s Right for You

By: 
Danielle Tate

i stole her heart so im stealing his last name sign
Photo Credit: ChicBridalBoutique/Etsy

Name change after marriage is a big decision. While most women anticipate getting married someday, very few of us give much thought to the concept of name change. If you do opt to change your name (and 88.6% of you will), the change is permanent unless you divorce or petition the U.S. court system for a legal name change order, which is about as fun as it sounds. It is wise to fully understand your feelings on name change, as well as your options before making the switch to Mrs.

When I got married, I gamely tossed my maiden name and took my husband’s. Now, nine years later, I wish that I would have researched my name change options a bit more before taking the name change plunge. So, here’s the scoop on married name change and the multitude of options available today. Please take a moment to read this article and make an informed decision; you’ll thank me later!

Option 1: Keep your maiden name

If your profession is closely tied to your name or if you are the last member of your family to carry your name, keeping your maiden name is a logical choice. It’s also the choice that results in zero paperwork!

Option 2: Hyphenate your name with your spouse’s

Most popular in the 1970s, hyphenation allows you to keep your maiden name while still adding your spouse's. It also makes it easy for colleagues, clients, and friends to follow you and your work post-marriage.

Option 3: Take two last names sans hyphen

This name change option allows you to have both surnames but use them interchangeably. You will need to sign all legal documents with both names, but you can introduce yourself with one last name, thus forgoing the mouthful that hyphenated last names can create.

Option 4: Take your maiden name as a middle name and your spouse’s last name

This is one of the most popular name change trends today, as women can take their spouse’s last name but still keep their maiden name. Maiden to middle name change holds even more appeal for women who were bestowed with horrible middle names! This can be done in all states except California (unless you list your maiden as your middle name on your marriage license), Ohio, New Jersey, and Washington. If you live in New York or Pennsylvania, you'll need to follow a specific order when filing your forms to achieve maiden to middle name change (get more info on MissNowMrs.com).

Option 5: Take your spouse’s last name

Many brides are ready to axe their maiden names completely and take their spouse’s last name. Reasons range from having unpronounceable maiden names to wanting their future children to have a last name towards the front of the alphabet.

Option 6: Create a blended last name with your spouse

This concept is very new on the name change scene — Mr. Goldberg and Miss Bernstein become Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein. *Please note that this option is only available to California couples, and they must write their blended last names on their marriage license.

Option 7: Have your spouse take your name

If you love your last name and your spouse doesn’t have major ties to his, consider having him take your maiden name as a new last name. Certain states — California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Lousiana, Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota — recognize a man's right to change his name on the basis of marriage.

Still unsure of the best name change option for you? Play the Married Name Game. This interactive quiz boasts a patent-pending algorithm, which was created by analyzing the name change choices made by the 200,000+ MissNowMrs.com customers and the key influencers of their decisions. It weighs and factors in things like your age and education, along with your personal style, to suggest the name change option(s) most in keeping with your selections.

The 10 Biggest Post-Wedding Mistakes Newlyweds Make

By: 
Kristen Klein

happily ever after wedding photo
Photo Credit: Ashfall Mixed Media, Inc.

Taking Too Long to Send Your Thank-You Notes
You may have heard that you have a year to write these. But the truth is, you have three months before people start wondering if you’re ever going to send them. Immediately after returning from your honeymoon, put yourselves on a manageable schedule. Plan on writing five a day each: You can handle your family and friends, and your spouse can handle his or hers. Divide your mutual friends in half, and you'll bang out all of your thank-yous in no time. 

Putting Off Creating Your Wedding Album
As soon as you receive the proofs from your photographer, start selecting your favorite pictures for your album. Have Post-its ready the first time you flip through your photos — mark anything that garners a reaction from either of you. That way, you’ll gauge your emotional connections to your photos better than if you spend hours laboring over which of the 20 shots of you with your MOH is best. Plus: If an album was included in your photography package and you need a little extra motivation to get started, check your contract — there’s likely a deadline for when you'll need to submit your photo selections.

Waiting to Clean Your Gown
A lot of brides put off this step because they’re not sure what they want to do with the gown. But whether you plan on preserving it, selling it, or donating it, the first step is always to get it professionally cleaned. Ideally, you should drop it off the day after your wedding (or ask your MOH to do it for you if you’re heading off to your honeymoon right away). The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to remove any stains.

Alienating Your Friends and Family
After the wedding, it’s natural to want to spend plenty of time with your new spouse — especially if you’ve just moved in together for the first time. But be sure to make time for the other important people in your lives as well. Schedule regular nights out with friends, take time to visit your family members, and don’t stop going out for happy hour with your coworkers. What you don’t want to happen: Your first anniversary rolls around, and you suddenly realize you haven’t seen some of your friends since the wedding day.

Skipping Vendor Reviews
As a bride-to-be, you likely depended on online reviews to help you find the best vendors for your wedding. Pay it forward by writing reviews for all of the vendors you used — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Write them while the details are still fresh in your mind. 

Passing on Insurance
No, we're not talking about your marriage; we’re talking about your rings. Specialty items like engagement and wedding rings usually aren't covered by your basic home owners' or renters' insurance policy; you'll need to take out a rider to be protected. Your insurance company will typically request an appraisal of the jewelry, and the annual cost is about 1 to 2% of the replacement cost (ex. a ring valued at $5,000 would cost $50-100 to insure).

Neglecting Your Workouts
With visions of a white gown and everyone's eyes on you before the wedding, you were likely pretty committed to hitting the gym and making smart food choices. Without that end goal, though, it’s far too easy to convince yourself that it’s okay to skip a day or two... and before you know it, it’s been six months since you’ve set foot in a gym and you’ve gained “the newlywed nine.” If you're having trouble mustering up the motivation, try turning exercise into a fun activity with your spouse; join an exercise class, take up a new sport, or simply try jogging together. 

Not Requesting Copies of Your Marriage Certificate
Your officiant is likely responsible for filing your marriage license after you've said "I do," but you'll still need to contact the Registrar's office to request (and pay for) a copy of your marriage certificate. Not only do you need this as legal proof of your marriage, but it's a good way to verify that your license has, in fact, been filed! Also, consider ordering more than one copy — if you're planning on changing your last name, you're going to need one to bring to social security, the DMV, and many other places, and you may feel more comfortable if you have another copy in safe keeping. Plus, you'll often save money ordering more than one at a time rather than waiting until you need that second copy. For example, in New Jersey, the first copy is $25 (plus $5 processing); but any additional copies ordered at the same time cost only $2. 

Saving Everything
You definitely want to keep a few mementos from your big day. But do you really need to keep all 15 of your adorable table number holders and the 27 extra programs your guests left behind? I have at least two boxes full of “wedding stuff” that I’ve carried through two post-wedding moves, and my parents have at least six cases of mason jars sitting in their basement from my sister’s wedding. Save one or two of each item, and donate, sell, or toss the rest. Think about which items you'll actually reuse after the wedding, and be sure to hang onto anything with real sentimental value.

Rushing to “The Next Step”
The post-wedding blues hit so many newlyweds — after spending countless months planning the biggest event of your lives so far, it’s hard not having something major to look forward to once it’s over. So it’s not surprising that many couples get anxious to move on to the next big milestone, like buying a house or having a baby. But try to give yourselves some breathing room before throwing yourselves into another major project. Buying a house a few months after the wedding turned out to be a big mistake for my husband and me — and selling it a year and a half later definitely created a major headache we didn’t need.

Counseling Before Marriage: Will This Become the New Law?

By: 
Sharon Naylor

While you're planning your wedding, are you also preparing for your marriage? According to a survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples with premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 30% decline in the likelihood of divorce over five years. (This topic is especially timely because Colorado has proposed a ballot that would require engaged couples to complete premarital counseling before they’re legally allowed to wed.)

If you're getting married in a house of worship, then you might already have faith-based marriage classes booked in your schedule, since some churches and synogogues mandate them. And if you're not among the engaged couples required to get counseling, then you may be curious about whether or not it's worth taking the plunge. 

Here, get a comprehensive look at how an accredited counselor can help you build a solid foundation for your future together. Also, find out what you should discuss with your future spouse before walking down the aisle.

couple holding hands
Photo by: Robyn Van Dyke Photography on Southern Weddings via Lover.ly

The Benefits of Marriage Counseling

Creating positive marriage resolutions. It's easy to get emotional when discussing heavy-duty topics like money, sex, and kids. An experienced counselor can help guide the conversation and prevent you and your partner from going off on a tangent, thereby losing focus and not accomplishing anything.

Learning (or improving) conflict resolution skills. If you've had some major tiffs or blowouts in the past (and who hasn't?) then you both know how you tend to react during arguments, whether it's wielding the silent treatment and pouting or yelling and name-calling. If you're being honest with yourself, then there's probably room for improvement. A counselor will teach you how to listen and communicate more effectively; more specifically, they'll also tell you what to say (and not say) in order to reach a happy solution. 

Getting realistic expectations about timing. For example, if you come to an agreement that the kids topic is off the table for two years, then you won't be left anxious or frustrated when you want to delve into that plan and your partner isn't ready. This also applies to major purchases like buying a house.

Avoiding toxic resentments. Clear the air about resentments you've been hanging onto throughout your relationship. A counselor will help you resolve these issues and free yourselves from them so that they don't cause massive damage later on in your marriage.

Dismantling fears about marriage. One or both of you might come from a divorced family, or from a dysfunctional background where fighting and manipulation was the norm. Premarital counseling can teach you how to make peace with your past and break the cycle.

Identifying the "seeds" of future marital stress. With an experienced outsider's perspective, you can learn which behaviors and habits you need to adjust or quit cold turkey.

Next: How to make the most of your sessions ►

 

Address any Concerns You Might Have

Money. Counseling sessions can be pricey and you might not be able to shift your budget to make room for this investment. Ask your wedding coordinator or officiant to help point you toward free or low-cost counseling resources like a community clinic or teaching hospital. In addition, you can check out the American Psychological Association or the National Association of Social Workers to find affordable counselors located within your area. 

Time. Classes will take a chunk out of your schedule so if you both put in long hours at work and your weekends are packed with activities, it can be a challenge to make and keep appointments or be fully present and engaged when you're in them. In spite of this, it still might be worth your time to do it.

Fear of unearthing additional problems. It can be unnerving to begin the process of premarital counseling because you and/or your groom might worry that examining your relationship under a microscope can lead to more stress and issues. In fact, although this can be hurtful in the short term, it can be very helpful in the long run.

Being humbled. It's neither easy nor fun to learn that you have less-than-stellar communication skills or find out that your groom isn't happy with your sex life. Even something as simple as hearing that he'd like more decompression time when he gets home from work can make you feel scolded, so you need to be prepared for some tough truths. It's important for you and your future spouse to remove your egos from the equation and allow yourselves to be open to constructive criticism, with the knowledge that in the process, you'll become a better husband and wife.

Remember this: As challenging as premarital counseling can be, it's all for the best and you're putting in the effort that's required to make your marriage work.


Photo by: Paul Von Reiter on Grey Likes Weddings via Lover.ly

How to Make the Most Out of Your Sessions

Accept that it’s going to be challenging at times. It's a mistake to think that marriage counseling is just a scheduling session for when you'll have kids, or buy a house, or move to an island when you retire.

Remember that the goal is not to "win." Both partners need to keep an open mind and be willing to change things that aren't working.

Keep your sessions completely private. Don't chat with bridesmaids, your mother, or anyone else about the things you've discussed, and don't even think about posting anything on Facebook that could embarrass your partner. Trust is essential to improving upon any relationship and 100% discretion is necessary.

Express gratitude to your partner. Tell your future spouse that you're thankful they're willing to attend counseling with you and for the great work you're doing together.

Next: What to ask your future spouse before getting married ►

 

While it’s a great advantage to have a professional counselor guiding you, you might find that it's easier if you just discuss all the hot topics and future plans in the comfort of your own home. Use the following questions to get the conversation started about your expectations, hopes and values.

Questions to Ask Your Future Spouse

Values:

  • How will we handle conflict?
  • What are our zero-tolerance hot buttons (e.g. financial dishonesty, infidelity, drinking too much, gambling)? What are the repercussions of those missteps?
  • What are the most important values that we’ll keep in our relationship?

groom kissing brides hand 
Photo by: JoPhoto on Lover.ly

Career:

  • What are our career goals (e.g. getting a second job or traveling more) and what will it take for us to reach them?
  • Do either of us plan to change careers, and if so, how will we adjust our lifestyle and budget to allow for a potentially lower household income? 
  • During busy times, will we be working late at night? On weekends? During vacations?

Finances:

  • What is our current financial situation, including our total debt, savings and retirement funds? 
  • How big of an emergency fund do we need to live well if one of us is out of work, or if we have an unexpected expense?
  • What is our monthly budget?
  • What can we establish as our individual "fun money" funds, and do we want to inform each other when we tap into them?
  • Who will pay for which of our household expenses and bills?

Intimacy:

  • Are we happy with our current lovemaking schedule, or do either of us want more?
  • If we’re not having as much sex as we would like, is it a matter of time or energy, and what can we do to remedy those barriers?
  • What’s the best way for each of us to express that we’d like more sex?
  • Do either of us want more romance? If so, what exactly are our most wished-for romantic gestures? More kissing? More hugs? Romantic dinners?

Kids:

  • When do we want to have kids?
  • How many kids do we plan to have?
  • If for some reason, we can’t have children, will we pursue adoption?
  • Will one of us stop working after we have children, and how will that affect our lifestyle and finances?
  • What do we want our children to learn from our relationship?
  • Will we raise our kids with religious beliefs and traditions?

Religion:

  • What are our independently-held or shared religious beliefs?
  • Would we like to re-connect to a religious or spiritual community?
  • What are our spiritual beliefs and practices, and how will we include them in our life?
  • If we each have different religious beliefs, how will we maintain our own traditions and combine them, if possible?

Household Duties:

  • Who will be responsible for which household chores?
  • Can we revisit our job division list in a few months, if either of us is unhappy with the balance of effort needed?
  • Do we have strong needs for our home to be spotless, or is a little bit of clutter okay?
  • Who will be responsible for meal-planning and meal preparations during the week and on the weekends?
  • Do either of us need and enjoy alone time? How will we make that happen?

Family Involvement:

  • How often will we visit our parents on a regular basis? Every weekend, or once in a while?
  • How will we divide the holidays fairly between our parents?
  • How will we deal with our respective family dramas?
  • How often will we vacation with our families, if ever? And if it’s not something one of us loves to do, how can we compromise (e.g. leaving after three days instead of staying the week)? 

Social Life:

  • How often will we spend time with our friends? Will we keep our regular Friday night happy hour plans with them or adjust to once a month or so to give us more time together as a couple?
  • How will we deal with each other’s friends we don’t like very much?
  • If a friend asks to stay at our house while they're in town, or if they're out of work, how will we handle that?
  • How often will we have date nights?
  • How often do we want to vacation together?

Hold on to this list and review these questions again in six months or so after your wedding, when you've adjusted to being married, to see if any of your responses and feelings have changed. 

home from the honeymoon book

 

Sharon Naylor is the best-selling author of over 35 wedding books, including Home from the Honeymoon: The Newlyweds' Guide to the Celebrations and Challenges of the First Year of Marriage.

Visit sharonnaylor.net for more great tips and advice.

Counseling Before Marriage: Will This Become the New Law?

By: 
Sharon Naylor

While you're planning your wedding, are you also preparing for your marriage? According to a survey published in the Journal of Family Psychology, couples with premarital education reported higher levels of marital satisfaction and experienced a 30% decline in the likelihood of divorce over five years. (This topic is especially timely because Colorado has proposed a ballot that would require engaged couples to complete premarital counseling before they’re legally allowed to wed.)

If you're getting married in a house of worship, then you might already have faith-based marriage classes booked in your schedule, since some churches and synogogues mandate them. And if you're not among the engaged couples required to get counseling, then you may be curious about whether or not it's worth taking the plunge. 

Here, get a comprehensive look at how an accredited counselor can help you build a solid foundation for your future together. Also, find out what you should discuss with your future spouse before walking down the aisle.

couple holding hands
Photo by: Robyn Van Dyke Photography on Southern Weddings via Lover.ly

The Benefits of Marriage Counseling

Creating positive marriage resolutions. It's easy to get emotional when discussing heavy-duty topics like money, sex, and kids. An experienced counselor can help guide the conversation and prevent you and your partner from going off on a tangent, thereby losing focus and not accomplishing anything.

Learning (or improving) conflict resolution skills. If you've had some major tiffs or blowouts in the past (and who hasn't?) then you both know how you tend to react during arguments, whether it's wielding the silent treatment and pouting or yelling and name-calling. If you're being honest with yourself, then there's probably room for improvement. A counselor will teach you how to listen and communicate more effectively; more specifically, they'll also tell you what to say (and not say) in order to reach a happy solution. 

Getting realistic expectations about timing. For example, if you come to an agreement that the kids topic is off the table for two years, then you won't be left anxious or frustrated when you want to delve into that plan and your partner isn't ready. This also applies to major purchases like buying a house.

Avoiding toxic resentments. Clear the air about resentments you've been hanging onto throughout your relationship. A counselor will help you resolve these issues and free yourselves from them so that they don't cause massive damage later on in your marriage.

Dismantling fears about marriage. One or both of you might come from a divorced family, or from a dysfunctional background where fighting and manipulation was the norm. Premarital counseling can teach you how to make peace with your past and break the cycle.

Identifying the "seeds" of future marital stress. With an experienced outsider's perspective, you can learn which behaviors and habits you need to adjust or quit cold turkey.

Next: How to make the most of your sessions ►

 

Address any Concerns You Might Have

Money. Counseling sessions can be pricey and you might not be able to shift your budget to make room for this investment. Ask your wedding coordinator or officiant to help point you toward free or low-cost counseling resources like a community clinic or teaching hospital. In addition, you can check out the American Psychological Association or the National Association of Social Workers to find affordable counselors located within your area. 

Time. Classes will take a chunk out of your schedule so if you both put in long hours at work and your weekends are packed with activities, it can be a challenge to make and keep appointments or be fully present and engaged when you're in them. In spite of this, it still might be worth your time to do it.

Fear of unearthing additional problems. It can be unnerving to begin the process of premarital counseling because you and/or your groom might worry that examining your relationship under a microscope can lead to more stress and issues. In fact, although this can be hurtful in the short term, it can be very helpful in the long run.

Being humbled. It's neither easy nor fun to learn that you have less-than-stellar communication skills or find out that your groom isn't happy with your sex life. Even something as simple as hearing that he'd like more decompression time when he gets home from work can make you feel scolded, so you need to be prepared for some tough truths. It's important for you and your future spouse to remove your egos from the equation and allow yourselves to be open to constructive criticism, with the knowledge that in the process, you'll become a better husband and wife.

Remember this: As challenging as premarital counseling can be, it's all for the best and you're putting in the effort that's required to make your marriage work.


Photo by: Paul Von Reiter on Grey Likes Weddings via Lover.ly

How to Make the Most Out of Your Sessions

Accept that it’s going to be challenging at times. It's a mistake to think that marriage counseling is just a scheduling session for when you'll have kids, or buy a house, or move to an island when you retire.

Remember that the goal is not to "win." Both partners need to keep an open mind and be willing to change things that aren't working.

Keep your sessions completely private. Don't chat with bridesmaids, your mother, or anyone else about the things you've discussed, and don't even think about posting anything on Facebook that could embarrass your partner. Trust is essential to improving upon any relationship and 100% discretion is necessary.

Express gratitude to your partner. Tell your future spouse that you're thankful they're willing to attend counseling with you and for the great work you're doing together.

Next: What to ask your future spouse before getting married ►

 

While it’s a great advantage to have a professional counselor guiding you, you might find that it's easier if you just discuss all the hot topics and future plans in the comfort of your own home. Use the following questions to get the conversation started about your expectations, hopes and values.

Questions to Ask Your Future Spouse

Values:

  • How will we handle conflict?
  • What are our zero-tolerance hot buttons (e.g. financial dishonesty, infidelity, drinking too much, gambling)? What are the repercussions of those missteps?
  • What are the most important values that we’ll keep in our relationship?

groom kissing brides hand 
Photo by: JoPhoto on Lover.ly

Career:

  • What are our career goals (e.g. getting a second job or traveling more) and what will it take for us to reach them?
  • Do either of us plan to change careers, and if so, how will we adjust our lifestyle and budget to allow for a potentially lower household income? 
  • During busy times, will we be working late at night? On weekends? During vacations?

Finances:

  • What is our current financial situation, including our total debt, savings and retirement funds? 
  • How big of an emergency fund do we need to live well if one of us is out of work, or if we have an unexpected expense?
  • What is our monthly budget?
  • What can we establish as our individual "fun money" funds, and do we want to inform each other when we tap into them?
  • Who will pay for which of our household expenses and bills?

Intimacy:

  • Are we happy with our current lovemaking schedule, or do either of us want more?
  • If we’re not having as much sex as we would like, is it a matter of time or energy, and what can we do to remedy those barriers?
  • What’s the best way for each of us to express that we’d like more sex?
  • Do either of us want more romance? If so, what exactly are our most wished-for romantic gestures? More kissing? More hugs? Romantic dinners?

Kids:

  • When do we want to have kids?
  • How many kids do we plan to have?
  • If for some reason, we can’t have children, will we pursue adoption?
  • Will one of us stop working after we have children, and how will that affect our lifestyle and finances?
  • What do we want our children to learn from our relationship?
  • Will we raise our kids with religious beliefs and traditions?

Religion:

  • What are our independently-held or shared religious beliefs?
  • Would we like to re-connect to a religious or spiritual community?
  • What are our spiritual beliefs and practices, and how will we include them in our life?
  • If we each have different religious beliefs, how will we maintain our own traditions and combine them, if possible?

Household Duties:

  • Who will be responsible for which household chores?
  • Can we revisit our job division list in a few months, if either of us is unhappy with the balance of effort needed?
  • Do we have strong needs for our home to be spotless, or is a little bit of clutter okay?
  • Who will be responsible for meal-planning and meal preparations during the week and on the weekends?
  • Do either of us need and enjoy alone time? How will we make that happen?

Family Involvement:

  • How often will we visit our parents on a regular basis? Every weekend, or once in a while?
  • How will we divide the holidays fairly between our parents?
  • How will we deal with our respective family dramas?
  • How often will we vacation with our families, if ever? And if it’s not something one of us loves to do, how can we compromise (e.g. leaving after three days instead of staying the week)? 

Social Life:

  • How often will we spend time with our friends? Will we keep our regular Friday night happy hour plans with them or adjust to once a month or so to give us more time together as a couple?
  • How will we deal with each other’s friends we don’t like very much?
  • If a friend asks to stay at our house while they're in town, or if they're out of work, how will we handle that?
  • How often will we have date nights?
  • How often do we want to vacation together?

Hold on to this list and review these questions again in six months or so after your wedding, when you've adjusted to being married, to see if any of your responses and feelings have changed. 

home from the honeymoon book

 

Sharon Naylor is the best-selling author of over 35 wedding books, including Home from the Honeymoon: The Newlyweds' Guide to the Celebrations and Challenges of the First Year of Marriage.

Visit sharonnaylor.net for more great tips and advice.

What to Know About Changing Your Last Name

By: 
Kristen (O'Gorman) Klein
mr-and-mrs-signs-th.jpg

mr and mrs signs
Photo Credit: Ashley McCormick Photography

I always planned on taking my husband’s last name after we got married, but the sheer amount of paperwork and appointments required pushed it to the bottom of my to-do list… for almost three years. (Wasn’t it good enough to just change it on Facebook and tack "Klein" onto the end of my byline?).

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Budgeting Tips For Newlyweds

Should you open a joint checking account? What’s the best way to take control of debt? Here, expert advice.
money-matters-Mari_DarrWelch_Weddings_5002.jpg

How is marriage going to affect your finances? We checked in with Terry Jorde, senior executive president and chief of staff at Independent Community Bankers of America. 
money and ring in the palm of a hand Photo Credit: Mari Darr~Welch Weddings

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