Post-wedding blues: Learning to ease marital bumps

Getting married is one of life's most joyous occasions. But it can also require a lot of give and take, particularly during the first few years of marriage when each partner is trying to define his and her role and make the transition from "me" to "we."

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

The fact is, no matter how well you think you know someone, the daily habits and routines of living together always come as a surprise. Even couples who have cohabitated prior to marriage find they must make new adjustments and compromises.

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

If you feel you and your intended need work in this area, you may want to consider premarital counseling. It's never too early to give your relationship the time and attention it deserves, particularly if it helps ease the transition into marriage and reduces potential conflict.

More and more, synagogues are requiring engaged couples to attend premarital counseling sessions or workshops. While seminars may vary in content or structure, most focus on communication, finances, careers and sexuality.

The cliché "marry the person, marry the family" has more truth to it than most people care to admit. Even couples who don't have particularly strong ties to their families often find themselves in conflict over how involved they want their families to be in their new lives.

For example, part of you may cling to the security and acceptance your family provides, while another part resents the control they have over you. Experts suggest you try to resolve some of these issues prior to marriage. Discuss with your partner your expectations, fear and responsibilities as they relate to your family.

Keep in mind that both of you bring to the marriage a unique set of issues, experiences and values. Be sensitive to your partner's feelings and needs, and let your spouse know he or she always comes first.

By creating a united front, relatives are less able to intrude on your relationship.

One of the most common causes of friction in any marriage — whether the couple has been married a few months or a few years — is money. One partner may be a complete spendthrift while the other borders on being a tightwad.

No matter how compatible the two of you may be, chances are you have different money-management styles. Realizing ahead of time you're going to have to make compromises will save you a lot of grief down the road.

Many two-career couples elect to keep their finances separate. Common household expenses such as rent and food are paid 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 say it's a good idea to draw up a household budget, itemizing your income and expenses as well as your assets and liabilities. Armed with this information, you will have a much better idea of where you are now financially and where you would like to be in the future.

Although taking care of your finances is one of the least romantic aspects of marriage, it is an important endeavor in which both partners should be involved.

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 there is something wrong with them.

The truth is that while frequency may diminish over time, passion, intensity and playfulness often increase. According to experts, the more committed and confident two people are, the more fulfilling their sex life will be.

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 likes and dislikes not only have better sex, but are happier in their relationship.

If you feel your sex life is becoming monotonous, there are things you can do to spice it up. Share your fantasies with your spouse. Write your partner a love note. Plan a romantic weekend away.

Take a shower together.

Make love in an exotic location.

Remember, there are no rights or wrongs in sex as long as you are both happy.