Question from Tara in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.: "My fiance and I dated for seven years and we're getting married in March. We've lived in different states for the past four years and are excited to be soon living together. What's the best way to make sure we don't take our time together for granted and what challenges should we look out for as we readjust to being together all the time?"
Lissa's Answer: Congratulations and best wishes on your upcoming marriage! You are off to a very good start by thinking proactively and focusing on your relationship. You and your fiancé have been together a long time, and you'll find that when you start living together you will get to know each other in a whole new way.
Love is important, of course. And after love, the next most important factor in a successful marriage is respect. The best way to show respect is with good manners. This might sound simple, but often when couples get overly comfortable around each other they start to forget the niceties. This is when one or both people begin to feel taken for granted, or that the spouse is getting on his/her nerves.
When you're husband and wife, you can keep the romance alive by still acting like boyfriend and girlfriend. Brush your teeth before your morning kiss. Avoid burping and expelling other bodily "noises" in front of each other, and when those inevitably happen, say "excuse me." Remember the requisite please and thank you, and mean it. Don't leave dirty dishes lying around. Fill up the sugar bowl when it's empty. In the bathroom, keep the lid down (it's good feng shui anyway!) and wipe out the sink when you're done with it. It's about being thoughtful and considerate of the other person and the space that you share.
As much as the two of you will be tempted to hole up in your little love nest, be sure to make time to get out and have dates! Even a trip to the grocery store can be a date when you're shopping for food that you can cook together for dinner. You'll also want to get acquainted with each other's friends by going on double dates, or having get-togethers at your place.
And give each other some individual space, both literally and figuratively, as well. Whether it's a room (man cave?), a desk, a drawer, whatever you can manage for yourselves is good. It's okay to still have your own personal time, too. Keep up with your yoga class, while your new hubby does what he wants to do. Coordinate your calendars so you know what upcoming events to expect, but don't schedule yourselves out so much that there's no room for spontaneity or relaxation.
It's the little daily rituals that can bring you even closer together: morning coffee, talking over dinner, goodnight kisses. Make sure that you are fully present for these moments. Agree to put away the smart phones, keep the TV off and focus only on each other during your special couple times.
Enjoy your new life together!