A Newlywed’s Top 10 Tips on Building a Better Marriage

*Today’s post is brought to you by my friend Alli Hoff Kosik, the blogger behind Finding Plan A. Alli lives in Brooklyn and is a freelance writer for media companies such as Brit+Co., Refinery29, and Bustle (SO cool!). We both went to the same high school, and re-connected on social media after college. Her husband, Matt, also attended our high school and they were married last June! 

It’s been one year since starting my blog, so, in honor of my very first post  AND Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I reached out to Alli to have her share with us her own tips for a healthy marriage 😉 

 

Hi, everyone! It’s great to be spending some time with you today on Mrs K-Fit! I feel super lucky to have gotten to know Angela so well over the last few months… I only wish we’d known back at our 2,000-student high school that we should find each other and be friends 🙂

When Angela invited me to share some thoughts on a successful marriage with you, I felt a tiny bit unqualified, since my amazing husband Matt (seriously, how cute is he?) and I got married just six months ago — but then I remembered that we’ve been together for nearly eight years! In that time, we’ve definitely learned a lot about what works for us and how to keep our relationship happy and thriving. Here are my ten (newlywed) tips for marriage!

    1. Be silly! One of the distinguishing characteristics of our marriage is a little playful weirdness. I think my maid of honor said it perfectly in her speech at our wedding: “The three of us were sitting on the couch chatting, and then there were a few silent moments, and you just looked at each other and made a few faces and burst out laughing.” Matt and I never cease to crack each other up, and sometimes we spend weeknights just sitting around sending each other into fits of giggles with the most random jokes and comments. It’s important to keep that kind of fun and lightness in a marriage!
    2. Know the right time to step away from a difficult conversation. I’ll be honest — this one doesn’t come easily to me. My instinct is to talk all. the. way. through a challenging discussion. As I become more emotional, I tend to talk more, while Matt tends to get quieter. You can probably imagine that this combination can often lead us to an impasse! What’s been working well for us instead is to agree to take a break (usually at the point when one of us can sense that we’re no longer being productive) and to set a time (usually about 30 minutes later) to come back and talk more calmly. It gives each of us a chance to organize our thoughts so we can redirect in a more positive, less emotional way.
    3. Find passion in your personal pursuits that you can share with your spouse. Matt and I find that we are most likely to bring our best selves home to each other when we are each fulfilled in our individual jobs and activities. When I was miserable in my corporate career, I wasn’t able to be the kind of wife I wanted to be, and it was hard for me to even have a conversation with my husband after work because there was so little from my day that I actually wanted to share. Now that I’m writing full-time, I can’t wait for him to come home so I can fill him in on what I’ve been working on. Since I’m happier, I also have the emotional energy I need in order to go above and beyond and be the type of wife I want to be. Additionally, I carve out time for exercise and dates with my girl friends, too, both of which help me be the best version of myself. Matt and I both like that version better 🙂
    4. Be intentional with your words and your tone. While we are not perfect, Matt and I are very thoughtful about the way we talk to and about each other. Your spouse should be your biggest cheerleader! We notice that there are couples who use teasing and subtle jabs at the other’s expense as a common pattern of conversation. We firmly believe that this should not be part of our rapport. Of course, we’re only human, so sometimes we slip up, but for us, this is usually a symptom of a larger tension that needs to be worked through and not a casual, offhand comment.
    5. Sometimes, it’s easier to let things go. Let me tell you about something that we call “The Zone.” The Zone is an L-shaped area of our bedroom that starts on Matt’s side of the bed and extends across one wall and into his closet (the doors of which are never closed). Within one week of moving into our apartment, I realized that Matt had very efficiently covered The Zone with t-shirts, clothes hangers, scrap paper, and other random items. I am extremely clean and neat, and at first, I fought against The Zone. Fast forward a few months, and I’d decided that it really didn’t matter. Matt has given me total license to keep the rest of our apartment just the way I like it, and he happily cleans The Zone whenever we have visitors — so what’s the point in constantly arguing about something so silly? It’s important to really think about the battles you want to fight — and for me, it was OK to let The Zone go.
    6. Be comfortable with quiet. One of the first things I noticed about my relationship with Matt was that silences never felt awkward. Very early in our dating life, Matt offered to drive me from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, where I went to college. A four-hour road trip is bound to include a few quiet moments, and I was worried that all of that time in the car would be uncomfortable. It actually felt very natural! Day-to-day life can be pretty low-key and uneventful, so it’s important that you and your spouse can relax into quiet time without feeling awkward. For newlyweds, it’s also important to be comfortable in the post-wedding calm, which can be a strange adjustment after months of chaotic planning!
    7. Find great “couple friends.” We are so lucky to have jointly befriended a few pretty incredible couples over the last few years, and I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything. Having great couples to hang out with makes for lots of fun double dates, but it has also given us a chance to learn from other relationships.
    8. Check in regularly about long-term plans. Matt and I try to talk about big picture topics (money, kids, where we want to live, etc.) approximately every three months (sometimes we even schedule it on the calendar!). We never want to get into a situation where those conversations feel more stressful than necessary because one of us feels like they are up against a deadline, so regular chats help keep things casual and authentic. To make it a fun date night, we splurge on our favorite take-out and buy a bottle of wine!
    9. No-phone time. Just like most other twenty-somethings living in 2017, Matt and I are both guilty of getting a little caught up in our phones. While we were on our honeymoon, we started implementing “no-phone time.” Any time either he or I feels that we’re both a little too distracted by our Apple-branded friends, we are allowed to invoke the no-phone rule. We also try to leave our phones at home when we go out on a date.
    10. Don’t forget the importance of being best friends. Naturally, marriage comes with perks (wink, wink) and responsibilities (budgeting, anyone?) that fall outside the realm of typical friendships, but Matt and I really do try to keep our best friend relationship at the core of our life together. Ultimately, there’s no one in the world that I would rather do anything with than Matt, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make him happy. When all the other stuff gets stripped away, it’s important that the integrity of those feelings stay intact so you can remember what’s really most valuable.

 

Thanks so much for reading! You can find more of my thoughts on marriage, life, work, etc. at Finding Plan A and on my Instagram! xo

alli-and-matt

Photography credit: Bri Cibene 

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Our Second Year

 

 

 

View More: http://bricibene.pass.us/ribeiros

Photo credit: Bri Cibene Photography  . View more photos of our day here.

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 2 years!! There sure have been a lot of changes happening, and as I reflect on how far we’ve come, I can’t help but smile. I’m sure every wife says this, but I truly have the best husband in the world. He’s constantly surprising me every day. If you ask him what his motivation is to work hard, he’ll say me; and now…our soon-to-be family. Over the past year, he has set a goal for himself to read 50 self-improvement books…and he finished with 2 months left! I am so proud of him and his dedication to continue bettering himself.

I never have to ask him to wash the dishes (his momma raised him right!), and he won’t complain if I ask him to scrub the tub or put gas in my car. If I don’t feel like cooking dinner, he shrugs it off and says, “Ok, let’s go out.” I feel undeserving most days because he is so good to me. I often ask myself, “What did I do to deserve such a love?”

Shortly after we were married, I had a quote from Kendrick’s vows to me framed. Growing up, I had written about my future husband and fantasized how we would meet and what he would look like. I wrote a list of qualities that I hoped he would have and prayed that he was out there…somewhere. It’s funny because Kendrick doesn’t even compare… He is more than what I could have ever imagined. He possesses qualities that I didn’t even know I wanted. God certainly knew what He was doing when he brought us together… I wish I could have been there, sitting next to Him when He saw all of it unfold. He must have been grinning from ear to ear.

“Everything you are is everything that I couldn’t even allow myself to dream of, because I never thought I deserved it.” -Kendrick, 5-23-14

This past year has been full of amazing blessings. And our most recent blessing…our little one that will be joining our family in December. I thought it would be fun to look back at the highlights/ adventures we had during our second year.

  1. My sister moving to California! I am so grateful to have her here, even more so now that we are pregnant. She is the only family we have on the west coast, so she has a very important role to play once this baby comes 😉

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2. Our belated honeymoon in Hawaii! In September, we finally got to take our honeymoon. Kendrick had been before, but it was my first time! We stayed on Oahu, and rented an AirBnb guest house in Kailua for 4 nights, then spent one night in Waikiki Beach. The best part of renting an AirBnb was all the sporting gear and equipment we got to use for free! They had a two-person kayak that we used to adventure out to the Mokulua Islands. My favorite part of our trip was our amazing sunrise hike in Lanikai. We had to get up super early so that we could watch the sunrise over the Mokulua Islands. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.

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Arriving in Hawaii

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Hanging on Moku Nui Island in the middle of the Pacific. This is where we kayaked from Kailua Beach

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Beautiful Kailua Beach

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Pillbox Hike in Lanikai (pardon my poor Panorama skills)

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Pre-sunrise

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Here comes the sun!

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3. Kendrick running the NYC Marathon! I could spend a whole post writing about this weekend, but I will try to make it short. We have a close friend and client who was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. For those who don’t know what it is, it has been described as a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s mixed into one. She came to Kendrick shortly after he started training her, and asked if he would be willing to run the NYC Marathon with her. She wanted to complete this lifetime goal before her symptoms progressed.  And guess what?? She DID! You can read more about Christy and her inspirational story here. 

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Kendrick and Christy at the Finish Line!

4. Starting my blog! 

5. Finding out we are pregnant! 

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Happy Anniversary babe! To another chapter in our book…I love you.

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

 

10 Ways to Save Money on your wedding collage (2)

Photos by: Bri Cibene Photography

Ahh…wedding planning. I remember it all too fondly. My first piece of advice I received after I got engaged was, “Delay wedding planning as long as possible. That’s when the stress begins.”

I think most of us (women) start planning our wedding before we’re even engaged, or dating! We think about what dress we’ll wear, what flowers we’ll carry, and what kind of cake we’ll serve. When you start planning, there’s a collision that happens…between what you’ve been dreaming of your whole life and what is now realistic. For example, growing up my family had a beach house on Long Beach Island, NJ. My grandfather built the house, and I have vivid memories of my summers spent there. The car rides would seem so long, but when we finally got to the bridge leading onto the Island, my heart would skip a beat.

As I got older, and started to dream of my wedding day, I would imagine it taking place at the Yacht Club located at the entrance of the bridge. I would gaze out at the grand estate, and think “there’s no where else I want to get married but here.”

Well, 15 some years later, my dreams were crushed. I had almost forgotten about this place, until the memory hit me one day as we were venue searching. I didn’t know the exact name of it, but I knew the location and so I did what all of us do…I consulted Google. I found out it was called the Mallard Island Yacht Club. It looked a lot more prestigious than what I had remembered. I clicked on the Weddings tab, and found out that the estate rental fee was almost $20,000! (that wasn’t including food or drink). Unfortunately, this was way out of our budget.

All our lives we dream of our wedding as a one day event. However, when we find our dream man (or woman), the ultimate prize is not the wedding day, but getting to spend every day for the rest of our lives together.  

No matter what you do, or don’t do…the most important thing is who is waiting for you at the end of the aisle. 

Here are 10 things that helped me save money when I was planning my wedding.

  1. Not Using A Florist

My mother-in-law had warned me about how expensive flowers would be…but I couldn’t bring myself to use fake flowers. After getting a few estimates from florists, I knew I would have to get creative. That’s when I turned to Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods has an amazing floral department and employees who specialize in floral arrangement. Because they’re a large retailer and they buy in bulk, they can get flowers from the wholesalers at a cheaper cost. I personally used the Whole Foods Market in Palo Alto and worked directly with a specialist  who was able to give me an estimate that was less than 1/3 of what the florists told me. Since we got married in the Spring, I had a wide variety of flowers to choose from that were in-season. I got to have beautiful, fresh flowers at a fraction of the cost.

2. Using One Venue

What appealed to me about the venue we chose, was that they had the capabilities to do everything on-site. That meant we could have our ceremony and reception in one location and cut the costs needed to transport the bridal party and guests. That also meant less time wasted in the car, and more face-to-face time with my family, friends, and most importantly.. groom.

3. Not Using a (Traditional) Caterer

We got very lucky with our venue. At the time, they did not have a vendor list like many places do, that required we use one specific caterer or photographer. After securing Whole Foods as our florist, I thought…Why don’t they cater our wedding too??  I can’t claim I was the first person to think of this, but I did feel pretty savvy at the time 😉 One thing to keep in mind is that they do not serve the food. They will drop it off for you, but you have to have a venue that either provides wait staff, or you have to hire them on your own.

4. Not Buying an Expensive Dress (or shoes)

Every bride is different, but for me, I personally didn’t place too much emphasis on what I would be wearing…a shocker I know! I didn’t have the luxury to spend thousands on a wedding dress, nor did I want to! The most important thing to me was that I felt comfortable. It’s important to think about how and where you want to spend your money. To me, I wanted to put more money into our reception and entertaining my guests instead of wearing an expensive dress. When it comes to shoes…the reality is, no matter how “comfortable” you claim your heels are, you’re going to be kicking them off on the dance floor.  (I ended up purchasing my heels from Nordstrom Rack for $50!)

5. Borrowing from fellow Brides

This is the best! If you have friends who have gotten married, it’s most likely that they have something you can borrow. I was extremely lucky to have some amazing friends who lent me decor, candles, and even a veil! Every little bit counts and most of the time people are eager to help and happy to see their things put to good use.

6. Skipping the RSVP cards

I didn’t see the point of printing extra paper for RSVP cards when people could just go online and do the same thing. Ultimately, when the wedding is over, think about what you’ll want to save; most likely it will be your wedding invitations or program…not your rsvp cards.

7. Making your own Decor

Yes, we’ve all gotten sucked into the DIY movement…but there is something really rewarding about doing this. For the things I couldn’t do, I enlisted the help of talented people on Etsy. The biggest thing I did (with the help of my friend Kelly) was make ALL the table runners for our guest tables. It definitely was a labor of love but so worth it in the end!

View More: http://bricibene.pass.us/ribeiros

 

 

8. Not Having an Open Bar

We chose to serve beer and wine to eliminate high alcohol costs. We purchased all our alcohol from BevMo, and the best part was, whatever bottles we didn’t open (and weren’t chilled)- we got to return!! I ended up returning over $100 worth in alcohol; which was a welcome surprise after so much spending!

9. Hiring Your Friends

Most of us have at least one or two super artsy or crafty friends. My sister-in-law happens to be one of them! She handmade decor for her own wedding, so I asked her to make a banner and cake topper for us. She also did my make-up, which was a huge help (and cost saver)! I had a friend from high school, Bri Cibene, who started her own photography business, so when it came time to choose a photographer, I hired Bri because I completely trusted her and knew she would do an amazing job! Our videographer was also a personal friend, and I can’t tell you how comforting it felt to be surrounded by vendors that we knew and trusted.

10. Being your own Planner

The beauty of planning a wedding these days, is that we have Pinterest! My decision not to have a wedding planner was mostly due to finances, but if I had to do it over again…I wouldn’t change a thing! Planning a wedding is something you’ll do once (hopefully) so all the ups and downs are just part of the process. I felt more comfortable making decisions knowing that I wasn’t being influenced by someone who maybe had ulterior motives. I tried to incorporate our family and friends as much as possible, and when I look back at the photos, I see the love that surrounded us that day…and every day since then.

And that’s a story I can share with our kids and grand-kids for years to come.

xo