Married...
Now What?!

You've put your gown in plastic, paid the credit card bill from your honeymoon and stowed away all the kitchen appliances you received. You were great at being the blushing bride, but how the heck do you play the role of wife? It's a tricky transition, but these tips can help you ease into wedded bliss.

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1

Set boundaries

We mean on everything, including how many times a week your mother-in-law can "drop by," suggests About.com Marriage Guides Sheri and Bob Stritof. If one spouse feels as though the other gets his or her way too often, resentment and contempt will build.

So while you may have been the "cool" girlfriend who didn't care when your now husband stayed out till 4 a.m. with the boys, as a wife, you may need to put your foot down on poker nights, parents and picking up the groceries now and again. This doesn't mean nagging--it means asserting what you need out of the partnership to feel as though it's an equal one.

2

Don't check in with the Joneses

A death trap for any relationship involves comparing your partnership with your friends'. Often, women get caught up in what a pal's husband or boyfriend is doing for them and start resenting their partner if they feel he should be doing the same.

Maybe your friend's man is a CEO of a major company and can afford to take his wife out for elaborate dinners or away on expensive vacations. These are superfluous things--if you really need them in your relationship, let your husband know. But don't request them just to look good or compete with your friends.

3

Be a "we"

One of the hardest things for new spouses to accept is that their lives have truly merged. That doesn't mean you relinquish your identity, but it can be difficult to transition from the attention-absorbing bride to one half of a pair.

It is crucial, says psychologist Alexandra Hambright Solomon, for newlyweds to explore who they are as a couple in the first year of marriage. It's almost like creating the "story" of your marriage, she says, and it includes figuring out how to handle setbacks and conflict and how to meet each other's needs. It will also help craft a stable approach to the various elements that crop up in such a long-term commitment.

4

Don't get too comfortable

Granny panties and farting don't make for a hot marriage. We know it's hard to avoid some of these things when you're living under the same roof, but a little discreetness can go a long way. That kind of intimacy breeds familiarity, which kills romance. Will you really have a burning in your loins for your hubby if he barges in on you while you're peeing so he can floss his teeth? Yeah, we thought not.

5

Get physical

The media and movies always poke fun at it--once two people get married, the sex life all but dies. Sure, it's hard to juggle working, being a wife and enjoying social activities and hobbies--but that's what you signed up for. Sex isn't a chore; it's a way for you and your hubs to connect and relieve tension.

A way to keep the spark alive after you become a Mrs. is to keep flirting with your spouse, suggest Stacy D. Phillips, a certified family law specialist and author of Divorce: It's All About Control—How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars. Just leaving a sexy note or giving a sly smile can do the trick.

6

Have another place to go

Living with anyone 24/7 can be rough. But your spouse is your roommate for life, so etching out a code of conduct for harmonious living early on is key. One of the ways in which to accomplish this involves having a "safe" place--whether it be a room in the house other than your bedroom, a park down the street or a girlfriend's apartment--to go when you're fighting or just need some space. Taking time to get away will help you put arguments in perspective and make you more grateful to see your spouse.

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