Nobody ever said it was gonna be easy. Marriage, that is.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about marriage and the misconceptions that abound of what being in a relationship is like. Let’s face it, we’ve all grown up on the fairy tale movies showing the dashing young man galloping away with a beautiful bride and they live happily ever after. Sure, when you start a new relationship it can really feel that way… unfortunately, the movies never show life after the initial phase of first love and reality starts to set in. Divorce rates don’t lie… reality can be too much for some couples.
Expect challenges. Trust me, you may see other couples who seemingly have the ‘perfect’ relationship, but they are harboring their own issues like the rest of us. This simple mind frame of expecting challenges can revolutionize how your relationship grows. There are going to be days when you are miserable. The important part is that both parties recognize that fact, try to work on it for mutual benefit, and avoid stupid actions like cheating or divorce over issues. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that a relationship is about two people… not one.
When you think about it, it is inevitable that two different people will clash whether they love each other or not. We’re all imperfect human beings. For example, we all love our family members but sometimes they can drive us crazy! The reality is, each person is different and has their own personality that may clash with yours. As anyone who is married can probably tell you, marriage is never a walk in the park. I used to be very envious and suspicious of those “perfect” couples that would occasionally appear in front of me… later to realize that they were in the same boat as everyone else and just chose to hide their issues.
I actually think this is a great practice (unless you have a huge problem that requires intervention such as domestic abuse) to avoid potential marital problems. Marriage is a union between two people, and the inclusion of other people in a problem can cause a lot of grief afterwards. You may regret bad mouthing your spouse later – after all, the problem passed and you both still love each other. The damage that you have created by airing your problems to your family and friends can be very hurtful to your spouse. A rule that I keep for myself is that I do not discuss my problems with friends or family. It is something that needs to be worked out between my husband and I. Think about it… your family and friends may like your spouse but their main alliance lies with you. Even though you have moved on from your problem, the others may not have and feel defensive on your behalf. Over time, resentment may build which can be disastrous to your spouse’s self esteem.
I’ll admit, I was one of those naive girls that thought that marriage was going to follow the fairy tale route. I love my husband, no doubt about it – but there are days we have disagreements, argue or just plain need a break from each other. At the beginning, I was devastated. Why weren’t we in total marital bliss 100% of the time? I married quite young, when I was 19 years old, and he was 21. I’m a Muslim, so we didn’t live together before marriage. We literally dove right into marriage headfirst! Needless to say, we would learn a lot about marriage in the next four years. 😉
The bottom line is this: a marriage is something between two people who have agreed to care for each other and work towards making the other happy. This won’t be easy all of the time, because the give and take of any relationship requires each person to compromise. The rush will fade after the initial honeymoon phase, and real life issues will come into play like bills, different interests, and lifestyle choices.
When I think of my own marriage, my best advice to future married couples (or even currently married) is to be honest with your partner. Is something bothering you? Tell your partner. Sometimes they can’t read your signals or don’t realize that it is that important to you. This was my biggest hurdle to cross when I got married, because I expected that he would be able to understand my every need without me explicitly telling him. Once I started telling him the things I wanted him to do and what things were bothering me, life became much easier. I wasted a lot of time and made myself miserable instead of fostering open communication.
It’s been four years, and I feel more connected and loved by my husband than the day we married. We struggled through trials, and made it through. We’ve made mistakes, admitted it and forgiven the other. We’ve became each other’s best friend and make the necessary investment in our relationship through spending quality time together, expressing our feelings, and keeping a sense of humor about things. Most of all, we’ve came to terms that we are both imperfect and will never be!
While that first rush of love is an amazing feeling, there is also something special about growing closer over time through hard work and effort. We work to make our relationship work… that is another sweetness in itself! I’m excited to see where we’ll be and how we’ve evolved over the rest of our lives.
Q: Do you have any tips for a healthy, lifelong marriage? I would love to hear them!
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