Marriage is hard. It's confusing, scary, messy, and sometimes it's even sad. But that isn't all. It's also incredible, fulfilling, intoxicating, warm, sexy, fun, safe, beautiful, and so so much more. Honestly, if your marriage isn't all of these things, something needs adjusting.
But my point is this: Marriage after the wedding is never really talked about. No one ever tells you how to communicate with your spouse and how to settle disagreements. No one tells you that you'll grow together, and sometimes in different ways. That you have to be willing to accept each other's growth for the better because when you get married, it's supposed to be for the rest of your life, not just a couple years of it. That you will be living with your best friend, sleeping next to your life-sworn lover, standing up for your heart-in-human-form, protecting someone else's heart (sometimes more viciously than your own).
I'm writing about this because for the last few years I've noticed something that breaks my heart: Everyone I know, but two couples, have been divorced just within a three-year period of being married. It seems like once they're married, most just lose their lust for their relationship. The wedding is made out to be the end of the story, but never like the true beginning of the relationship. Movies, TV shows, books, media in general, tells you one of two stories when it comes to marriage: The first is the meet-cute, the falling in love, the grand gesture, then the happily ever after. The second one being the little old couple that has been married for years and makes us want to get there with our own loves. Rarely—too rarely—do I hear or see a story that talks about the middle.
What about the years in between that gorgeous wedding and the wrinkled hands embracing? The years where the real test happens. You frustrate each other, you yell, your daily habits change, or they don't and drive each other crazy. The moments you lay on the couch together, silently basking in the warmth and happy embraces. The times you dance in the kitchen together, make meals together, shower together. When one of you breaks a bone and needs extra help with life for a while. Sometimes even having to take complete care of your loved one because of an accident. All this, and still it doesn't cover all the emotional turmoil that couples go through together. Little fact about me: I have been suicidal while I was married. It had nothing to do with my Hubby, though, because I had been depressed and suicidal way before him, but I hid it from him so well; he had no idea until I burst into tears while watching a Ghost Adventures episode where Zak Baggans offered the suicide hotline number. It was during that time of my marriage that I realized something so important that all couples should know: When you get married, when you decide to be with someone completely and seriously, it's not just about you anymore. You aren't on your own and the only way to make it last, like the little old couples we hear so much about, is to be there for your love. It just won't work any other way.
If you're like me, when an argument occurs, it can feel like the end of the world as you know it. Even the tiniest skiffs can make you wonder if this is it and do they love me anymore? I know that if you are with the wrong person, the smallest thing can in fact bring marriage to a close very quickly. But I am one of the lucky ones, truly. My husband wouldn't leave me after one argument, not even a hundred. I know this because he's still here, after all this time, and because he tells me and shows me how in love with me he still is.
There are so many quotes and offhand sayings out there, and now we are fighting this stigma that people are mean and out to hurt us, that people are losing hope of finding a life lasting love. So allow me to give some tips that at least I don't hear very often anymore:
1. The right person will respect you and will do anything healthy to make your relationship work. Even couples therapy can help and isn't stupid if you're willing to put in the effort.
2. Marriage does change things, whether they are for the better or worse will be totally up to you two.
3. Both of you will change, so encourage each other to change and grow for the better!
4. Communicate. I heard a quote that has stuck with me ever since, and it helps me to remember how to communicate properly: "People who don't know how to communicate always think you are arguing." If you don't know how, then don't be afraid to read a book or do some research! Love is worth the work!
5. Never get too comfortable. Being comfortable in your relationship isn't necessarily bad, but getting too comfy is. Keep dressing up for each other, going on dates, surprising each other and flirting. Keep loving each other and try to keep close to that feeling you had on your first date.
6. Always make decisions TOGETHER. No matter what it is, respecting each other means compromising and finding a way that makes you both happy or at least satisfied. Yes, sometimes sacrificing something you want for the other is part of marriage, but if you're with the right person, they will sacrifice for you as well.
7. Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman! I can't stress this enough! You'll have no idea how important it is until you read it.
8. Never let anyone tell you that the fairytale isn't real. With the right person, it is more real than you can imagine. So don't let faithless people convince you of anything else.
9. Pick the right one. Don't settle for someone just because you think you might be being too picky. If you meet someone and they do something that you can live with, keep them. If you can't live with it, don't. Remember this is someone who you are trying to figure out if they are the one you want to spend. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. With. Decide that you will find your Cinderella or Prince Charming, and you will.
10. Just keep loving each other. When times get challenging, I think of everything I love about my Husband, and trust me, it could be a full novel at this point. Or even a whole series if I went into detail, but I digress. Love really does get you through anything.
So I truly hope that this article gave you something to think about. Don't take marriage lightly, but don't see it as a sentence either. Being married is the biggest and best thing I have in my life, and it could very well be the same for you if you let it. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to read marriage books, watch YouTube videos, etc. It means you care about your significant other and you want a happy marriage. There's absolutely no shame in that! Remember to have patience and that life with your best friend (with benefits ;)) has its ups and downs, and that's perfectly normal. Talk to each other, play with each other, and never stop showing how much you love them. I'm no expert on marriage, but I figure if you know something that works, might as well share it. Besides, I would love nothing more than for people to have faith in love and marriage, and just happiness in general again. There is light in the world, so please, don't let bitterness and negativity dim it. Don't become the rest of the world, become what you want it to be.
Until next time, blessed be!