Congratulations and welcome to married life! Now all the celebrations have wrapped up, it’s time to take a step back into reality and prepare for what lies ahead.
If you like so many other couples have lived together before getting married, you may not think much is going to change—and that could well be very the truth. However, while some things will stay the same, some things won’t.
If you want to make the transition from ‘long-term relationship’ to ‘married couple’ an easy one, here are some practical tips to kick off your new life on the right note.
Update your name
If you’ve decided to take your partners name, the first thing you’ll need do is make it official by registering your marriage. While the legal requirements to do this will vary according to where you live, it should be a relatively easy process by contacting the relevant registry office.
You’ll then need to work through the process of updating your name everywhere it appears. Start off by making a list of all the organisations you’ll need to notify such as your bank, licensing authority, insurance and utility providers.
Generally, you’ll be better off if you update your name on the most important things first (like your drivers’ license), so you can use them as additional evidence of your identity to make it easier to update your details with other organisations. It’s also a good idea to make a few copies of your marriage, birth or name change documents and have them certified so they’re easily on hand when you need them.
Sort out your finances
Finances are one of the most common causes of conflict in marriages. To avoid having financial disputes or arguments down the track, it’s important to work out how you’ll manage your finances from the get-go.
In days gone by it was standard practice that once you were married your finances would be merged together, with the man of the house usually being the one that’s responsible for earning and managing the household finances. However, it’s no longer that simple. With most families now earning two incomes, it’s easy for confusion to arise about who is responsible for paying what.
Sit down with your other half and clarify exactly how you plan to manage your money. Will you have a joint bank account? Will you pay your bills using cash or a credit card? Who is responsible for making repayments on the home loan? Whatever arrangements you settle on, by setting a clear plan early on, there’ll be less room for conflict to arise down the track.
Update your insurance
One thing many couples forget to do is update their couples health insurance policy to include pregnancy. This is important if you unexpectedly fall pregnant—if you’re still on your old singles policy, you may not be covered for pregnancy and obstetrics services. Most health insurance providers will also require you to serve the relevant waiting period before you can access pregnancy cover, so the sooner you do it the better.
Pool your memberships
Another tip is to see what accounts and memberships you can pool together so you don’t double-up on expenses and make the most of any benefits.
If you both have accounts for subscription services like Netflix or Spotify, cancel one and share the other so you don’t pay twice, check if you can get discounted rates from your phone and internet providers by requesting a bundle service, and see if any of your store accounts or frequent flyer memberships allow you to pool rewards points together so you can cash-in sooner.
While making the transition to marriage-hood can be a very different experience for everyone, by taking care of the practical details early on in the piece, you can give yourself the best possible start to your new life!