After I dos, many marrieds face post-wedding blues

A wedding can be one of life's most joyous occasions. But marriage requires a lot of give and take, particularly during the first few years when both partners are trying to define their roles and make the transition from "me" to "we."

After all the excitement and anticipation of planning a wedding, many couples find themselves disappointed by the realities of married life. Psychologists say this letdown is normal and most couples experience some form of "post-wedding blues."

No matter how well you think you know someone, the daily habits and routines of actually living together always come as a surprise. And even couples who lived together before marrying find that they, too, must make new adjustments and new compromises.

While there are no secret formulas for marital bliss, you can take steps to ensure a happier, more satisfying relationship. Perhaps most important is your ability — and willingness — to communicate with your partner.

If you feel that you need help in this area, consider premarital counseling. It's never too early to give your relationship the time and attention it deserves, particularly if this effort helps ease the shift into married life, lessening potential conflict.

More and more synagogues now require engaged couples to attend premarital counseling sessions or workshops. While seminars vary in content or structure, most focus on communication, finances, career and sexuality.

The old cliché "Marry the person, marry the family" is no mere truism. Even if you never felt particularly bonded to your relatives, you might be surprised to find yourself arguing with your partner over how involved you'd like those relatives to be in your new life.

You might feel torn between the security and acceptance that your family provides, while strongly resenting the control they exert over you. Experts suggest that partners try to resolve such issues prior to marriage by airing their expectations, fears and responsibilities regarding extended families.

Keep in mind that both of you bring to the marriage a unique set of experiences and values. Be sensitive to your partner's feelings and needs; let your partner know that this relationship is top priority.

Whether a couple has been married a few months or many years, one of the prime sources of conflict is money. There are as many different ways of handling money as there are individuals. One partner may be a complete spendthrift while the other has always been teased for being a tightwad.

No matter how compatible you two are, chances are you have different money-management styles. Recognizing in advance that you both must compromise will spare you a lot of grief later.

Many two-career couples elect to keep their finances separate. Common household expenses are covered through a joint account while personal bills are kept separate. Although not for everyone, this method often eliminates arguments and allows each partner to retain some financial independence.

Regardless of how you pay your bills, experts recommend drawing up a household budget, itemizing income and expenses as well as assets and liabilities. Armed with this information, you are much better able to assess the present and the future.

Finances aren't the most romantic aspect of married life, but they raise important issues.

One of the biggest disappointments newlyweds face is the declining frequency of sexual intercourse. While this is a normal fact of life, many couples worry, as time goes by, that there is something wrong with them.

But while frequency may diminish, passion, intensity and playfulness often increase. Experts maintain that a couple's commitment and confidence go a long way toward a fulfilling sex life.

Sexual pleasure is one of the most intimate and important aspects of a loving and lasting relationship, deepening with time and experience. But like anything else, it takes work.

The key to a healthy, mutually satisfying sex life is making time for each other, being adventurous and, above all, communicating your needs and desires to your partner. Studies show that couples who openly discuss their sexual preferences not only have better sex, but are also happier together overall.