You’ve said your “I-dos,” the honeymoon is a pleasant, distant memory, and you’ve updated your Facebook status. What’s next? There’s no shortage of marriage advice for newlyweds. If you ask 10 people what makes a happy marriage, you’ll likely hear 10 different answers. But there is one common theme – communication.
Your ability to talk openly about having kids, making major life decisions and other topics can be one of the foundations of a strong marriage. Here are five key healthcare conversations every newlywed couple should have.
Let’s Talk About Kids
If you haven’t already had the discussion about having kids, it’s important to talk and make sure you’re both on the same page or discussing any differences you may have about having… and raising children.
Maybe your husband wants to enjoy being married for a while or save up a little money before starting a family, while your maternal instinct is kicking into high gear. It’s best to know each other’s thinking on when to start a family and how many kids you want.
Sometimes pregnancy doesn’t happen as easily or as quickly as we hope, leaving couples frustrated, stressed and emotional. Should you ever face this situation, knowing in advance how you both feel about steps like fertility treatments or adoption is important. The process for either can be financially costly and emotionally draining, so facing it together is critical.
Baby Makes 3… or more
Our world of changing parental roles means lots of decisions about how to juggle:
- Do you feel one parent should stay home with kids?
- Are you comfortable with daycare?
- How do you feel about asking grandparents to help?
Having this chat now can resolve things before they’re issues. For example, if you both agree you’d like one parent to stay home with kids, you may want to begin saving money now to prepare for that day. This discussion is not just about who’s taking care of the baby, it’s about your careers, finances, perhaps even your relationships with in-laws.
In Sickness and In Health – Insurance
Health insurance is a must-have. Getting married is an “event” that qualifies you or your spouse to make changes to your insurance plan, so if one of you doesn’t have insurance, take this opportunity to get it. If you both have insurance through work, compare your plans and land on the best one for your new life together to avoid duplicate coverage and costs. Some considerations:
Choice of Doctor and Hospital
If keeping your primary care doctor, specialists or hospital is important to you, make sure they accept your chosen plan.
Current and Future Needs
Confirm coverage of any pre-existing conditions, and if you’re thinking of starting a family soon, check on maternity care coverage, immunizations and child healthcare.
Maybe you want a plan with a lower premium with a high deductible, or vice versa. Everyone’s situation is different, just don’t make decisions that may look rewarding short term but cost more in the long term. Learn the meaning of things like copays, coinsurance, in- and out-of-network and what’s not covered.
As a young married couple, you are more likely to become disabled or ill than die prematurely. Disability insurance can provide you with an income in case of an illness or injury where you or your spouse can’t work.
Preparing for “What If”
No one wants to talk about a tragedy or illness that leaves one spouse incapable of making decisions. But you should have the talk before you need to make decisions in a time of turmoil. Advance directives, such as a Living Will, are written, legal instructions that convey your choices for medical care if you are seriously injured, in a coma, at the end of life or other situations where you can’t make decisions yourself. Knowing your wishes ahead of time saves your loved ones the agony of making these decisions in a difficult time. Some documents to explore:
- Medical Power of Attorney - lets one spouse make medical decisions if the other spouse is incapacitated or unable.
- A Living Will - communicates the treatments an incapacitated person would or would not want used to keep him or her alive and conveys wishes about things like organ donation, pain relief, comfort (palliative) care and other end-of-life decisions.
- A DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) - lets the physician know what steps a person doesn’t want taken in the event heart or breathing stops.
Old Habits Die Hard
The funny thing about habits you notice once you’re married is that they were usually there all along. You may think “life-of-the-party” behavior, a small wager on a football game, or occasional recreational drug use is okay in a boyfriend or girlfriend, but not so much in a spouse. Take a long look at your spouse’s and your own relationship with substances like tobacco, alcohol or recreational drugs or habits like gambling. You may both feel comfortable with each other choices, but then again you may not. If and when you want to start a family, habits like smoking, excess drinking and recreational drugs can impact both fertility and unborn children. Getting this discussion out of the way early is healthy and beneficial.
For Better, For Worse – When the Future Becomes Uncertain
In the throes of romance and engagement, we sometimes have a habit of hiding our “true selves” or how we deal with stress. But learning to handle stress together – or at least respecting the other person’s style of managing stress – is important. Discussing how each of you deals with small things like being stuck in traffic, waiting too long in a restaurant or bad day at work, as well as major happenings, will help you understand each other when the inevitable tough time comes along:
- Illness – When one spouse receives a scary diagnosis, or develops a chronic illness, it can change the dynamic of your relationship, especially if that spouse is suddenly physically or financially dependent on the other. A conversation now can save pain later.
- Trauma – A traumatic loss has the potential to shatter a marriage. Talking about how you deal with loss, grief or trauma can give each other awareness that can be helpful if that time ever comes.
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