“Well, I didn’t see that coming,” is a phrase my husband and I have uttered repeatedly throughout our marriage. Granted, it’s all in good fun but there’s something to be said about the hard-learned lessons of married life.
See, once you’re engaged people like to give you a lot (mostly unsolicited) of advice about marriage. But for as much as people tell you, there are still some things you just have to learn firsthand. And they can be hard lessons to not only learn but to accept. So, I’m giving you a head start with 7 things no one told us about marriage.
Keep in mind, these are part humor, all reality lol. Here goes….
Lesson #1 You’re not always going to like each other. This one you’ve probably heard but it’s worth repeating -- you will not always like your spouse! It’s not the end of the world; it’s not even necessarily the end of your marriage. Sometimes life just brings out the worst in people, and, as a dedicated spouse, it’s up to you to identify what exactly led to your not-so-warm-n-fuzzy feelings about your spouse. Ask yourself “how would I like this to play out differently next time?” and then go share those insights with your significant other. Laurie Puhn, author of Fight Less, Love More, says it best: “Don’t focus on the problem. Do focus on the solution. A little wisdom makes a big difference.” Your spouse can’t fix the problem if he/she doesn’t know what needs to be fixed.
Lesson #2 You won’t always share the same sex drive. Men and women have been having the great sex debate since the beginning of time. Typically the debate is around frequency, but married life ups the ante on almost everything … so, prepare yourself for times when you may not see eye to eye on frequency OR style! Makes for some interesting nights :-)
Lesson #3 Falling in love is involuntary; staying in love is a choice. Building and maintaining a marriage is work. The initial “fall” sort of sneaks up on you. But staying in love is a choice that you make every day. No, you’re not waking up every morning and saying “ Yep, I’ll love him for another day!” But choosing to stay in love is shown through how you speak to each other, what you think about each other, and what you do to and for each other.
Lesson #4 One of you will love harder. Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves hardest. This is probably the hardest lesson to accept so I’m going to use a few more words in this section to explain. Stay with me, y’all.
To love harder is not about one person loving more; it’s about loving with your whole self. Allowing yourself to feel EVERY aspect of your relationship. Choosing to be vulnerable without inhibitions. Now this may sound odd, especially if you’re already married, but you’d be surprised at how many couples (sometimes unconsciously) hide parts of themselves from their spouses.
The reason I say one person will love harder is because although we’re going through life together, life still affects us as individuals. There have been times when I’ve been going through personal transitions and growing more into myself and I just didn’t feel like being as vulnerable. And in those times, my husband absolutely loved hardest. That’s okay … as long as you don’t get stuck there.
Lesson #5 Spousal envy is a real thing. While jealousy is the fear of losing something you already have, envy is discontent over something you don’t have. Envy can show up a number of ways in marriage -- professional success, social life, fitness, any number of things. And while it sounds silly -- unthinkable even -- it does crop up in some marriages. It’s typically not a venomous “I’m gonna get you, sucka” envy; it’s usually a feeling individuals experience in silence. I remember a time when I was struggling with weight loss, and I was so envious of my husband's self-discipline when it came to his eating and workout habits. I caught myself actually getting an attitude when he went to the gym -- who does that?! But like all the other lessons in this post, envy, too, can be overcome as long as you recognize and take action. In times like this, focus on self and what it will take to get to a healthier emotional state.
Lesson #6 There are ethics to love. Ethics of love transcend fidelity and also come into play with how you speak to and about your spouse in private and in public. Are you kind? Are you honest? Do you speak to help or harm? I remember early in our relationship - before we were married - we were at a party and my husband told a joke at my expense. Before I had a chance to respond, another woman at the party pulled us to the side and said to him “You don’t do that. Don’t ever sacrifice her respect for the sake of a laugh. Whether or not it was your intent, you just inadvertently gave everyone listening permission to do the same thing to her.” And she was right. There’s ethics to this.
Lesson #7 You will get bored. “As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge.” Routines to any degree are a part of life - that’s just most people’s reality. And along with those routines that help keep life organized can come lulls of boredom. Not to worry - when you feel yourself getting a little restless and the day to day becoming mundane, take it as a signal to spice things up with an impromptu weeknight date night or instead of going straight into the office, have a breakfast date with your spouse ... anything to break the monotony.
What lessons have you learned since being married? Or, if you’re not married, what’s the most valuable piece of advice someone’s given you about marriage?