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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marriage Gist: 12 Hard Truths for Newly Engaged or Married Couples

These days, among many of my friends, wedding planning is the order of the day. Last year alone, I was a bridesmaid 4 times. This year, i'll be a bridesmaid at least 3 times. Moreover, as you maybe heard, following some very special event on Valentine's Day, wedding planning is now on my to-do list as well ;-)

If you're an avid reader, you know that, even before this recent development, I've always been interested in relationships and marriages and how to make them work longterm. I'm an avid lover of love and as a product of parents who shared a loving and productive marriage/partnership, I'm more interested in marriage, than in the wedding.

I've had several of these conversations with my mom and older married sisters, friends and cousins. In the course of this "research", I have not only collected so much good stuff, I have learned some hard truths. With a little nudging from my friend, I have decided to share the wealth. It is my goal to not only inspire you but to help you get prepared to make your marriage a fulfilling lifetime journey. Buckle Up.

1. Marriage means partnership. 
For the rest of your life, 99% of your life decisions will have to at the very least consider the input of someone else. This is not to say that you have to loose your individuality. In fact, to stay sane, you have to maintain "you". Instead, this is to say that you have to make room for another person, in every way possible. It's not just "you" anymore.

2. This lovey-dovey "high" will dwindle.
You will fight. You may even go to bed angry. Or not be ready to talk for days. Sometimes, you or your spouse will need a little time to calm down. Fighting is healthy. Well, when its not physical and both parties are continuously trying to learn and make the marriage better.  Yes, the love could dwindle but its a chance to fall back "up" in love. Fighting shouldn't break your marriage, it should make it stronger.

3. There will be hard times. 
Besides the internally-created hard times, and beyond the "he refused to put down the toilet seat", life may hit you hard at some point. A loss of a lucrative job, a death in the family, an accident, illness, or an addiction (social media, porn, gambling, substance). Marriage can be all peachy until life's challenges hit you. As long as we live in this world, there will be let-downs. No one is immune to hardships. Even though you started your marriage making more money than your wife, you have to be ready that there may the time when financial hardships or a job promotion for her will turn the tables a bit. Even though when you met your husband he was 230 pounds of hard muscle and regular gym visits, there may be a time when a health-related set back will ground him. You may loose a parent and need time to grieve well. To get through it all, communicate, stay committed and be understanding. Remember it's for better or for worse.

4. You would have to deal with unattraction and/or a roller-coaster sex life. 
Many married couples have confessed to experiencing a period when they are not attracted to their partner. Your wife was size 2 when you married her but then she has a kid and gains 50 pounds. Your husband had a full head of hair and six-pack abs when you married him but 10 years later, he is bald with a potbelly. The hard truth here is that no matter how much you love your spouse, if they let themselves go, its hard to keep the spark alive. Here, effort is what will make the difference. For a successful marriage, you can never get tired of trying to look good for your spouse. Yes, he has seen you first thing in the morning, stinky breath and all, but once in a while, you should dress up just for him.

Also, there will be dry spells due to work, pregnancy, long commutes, or illness. It is normal. While you should try to minimize dry spells, the key is to stay physically connected and still pay attention to each other- touching, cuddling, kissing, or just holding hands keeps you connected even in the absence of sex.

5. There will be external pressure.
No not from life. From people. Be it in laws, family or friends. There will be people who will try to butt into your marriage. How you and your spouse handle external pressure could make or break your marriage. Never forget you are a united front.

6.  Once or twice, or more, you will question either why you got married at all or chose your spouse. 
Of all the people I've talked to, only 2 people have admitted this. Once the fairytale wears off, you may wake up one morning, look at your spouse and wonder, "so this is it?" Same person, same routine, same structure, day in day out. The person you chose, no matter how much you love him/her, cannot make you happy every minute every day. They will annoy you. They will frustrate you. You may just want to rip their head off. Was it worth it? As long as you both are committed for the long haul, you can put in efforts to remind each other why you got married and what attracted you to each other in the first place. Even though, your spouse may not successfully make you happy all the time, what matters is that they are trying to and you are reciprocating. After all, marriage is a journey not a destination. When you appreciate the little things, you realize marriage is better than a fairy tale.

7. In light of the above, Happily ever after is what you make it.
And this requires hard work on a daily basis...The effort is not just a one-time remedy. Its a lifetime commitment. Compromise. That's the magic word. You don't have to win every battle. Sometimes, being right all the time just builds discontent in your marriage. If its not worth it, let it go. Refer to The Art of Picking your Battles.

8. You can only change yourself. 
Remember how hard it was to live with your siblings even though you share parents? Imagine committing to sharing space with someone raised sometimes completely in a different environment from you. You can't change a person, especially a fully grown man who has spent decades of life with a habit or believe. Stop wearing yourself off trying to. It's easier, saner and a much more achievable task, instead, to change how you respond to them.

9. You will be forced to confront yourself.
Marriage will teach you a hard lesson about yourself. It will throw in your face your issues...control, trust, communication? It will force you to learn. It will force you to see the good and bad parts you play in your marriage. But its what you do with the lessons that could make or break your marriage. Let your self-awareness better the role you play in holding your marriage together.

10. To make it work, you'll have to own up to your weaknesses. 
Your partner is there to compliment you, let him/her. Where you are weak, let them be strong. Where you are strong, still listen to their input. For example, if you're a spender, and he is a saver, don't feel slighted if he wants to handle the finances. If you are not organized, forget easily or don't know how to pay attention to details, let her be the one responsible for paying the bills monthly.

11. You'd have to be subservient. 
In order to be served, you have to serve. If you're a woman, you need to understand that men like to feel like the head of the household, more so in public. Respect him and defer to him, especially when among his peers. For example, if you make fun of him or a flaw of his in private, when people are listening, think again before you make a joke that could undermine his status as an able husband. On the other hand, as a man, if you know your wife hates to do laundry, picking up that tab for her will not hurt. Sometimes, just opening the door for her will make her day. Honor and be honored. A happy partner is a happy life.
There you have it. I didn't write these hard-truths to discourage or scare you. It is intended as an inspiration as I've been inspired by others. I published because even in my marriage, I'd want to come back, read and be reminded how to make my marriage work. Marriage is a beautiful thing....better still, it is not about fairy tale is about real-life-love. It is that kind of love that lasts, withstands, and survives through time, life's challenges and everything in between. Don't go in with "cinderella" expectations. Go in committed to making each other happy; open and ready to enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

Oh Oh Oh...I don't know about you...but I'm excited ;-)

Stay Inspired...
NwaVic – | |Twitter & Instagram @nwavicesq

1 comment:

kesijesi said...

I think the most important is making God the head of the marriage. A 3 fold cord cannot be broken. Another is never go to bed angry. The earlier conflicts are resolved, the better.

Marriage is truly a journey.