My husband and I are rapidly approaching our 25th year of marriage. We have had many highs and many lows. Been at the top of the mountain and down deep in the valley and everywhere in between.
I feel like at this point in my marriage I have learned a few things. Things I wish I had known prior to getting married. Things that would have saved me a lot of headache, heartache and grief. Things that would have allowed me to enjoy the present and be hopeful for the future. But no one told me.
As so often said, there are two sides to every story, there are also two sides to every marriage. And I don’t mean his version and her version. I mean the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. So let’s start with ugly. I want to share with you some of what I call, the cold hard truths.
- There will likely be some days (or even longer) that you really can’t stand your spouse. Seriously. You will look over at him/her and think, what the heck was I thinking? Often times this happens in the early years after the “honeymoon phase” has worn off. But don’t worry. You will come to see and be reminded of all the reasons why you fell in love in the first place.
- Learn to be patient with yourself and your spouse. You are both trying to figure out life and you may not have the same ideas or paths as the other. It’s okay. Just stay involved and interested in each other’s lives and try to connect daily.
- You will disagree on how to raise your kids at times. Even if you have had a long talk about child rearing, inevitably one of you will change things up as the reality of life sets in. What you once thought was a bad idea will now be okay and vice versa. Each of you will also have your own parenting styles. Learn to let Dad do his thing and let Mom do hers. Remember, you are different people with different ideas and have different parental roles. And it’s okay.
- You won’t necessarily like or get along with his or her family. If you do…count your blessings! It’s not a prerequisite to having a good marriage, but it does make life easier if you and the in-laws can at least be civil. If things are not great with the in-laws I don’t think it’s a good idea to put your significant other in the middle. Don’t give them a “choose them or me” ultimatum. As far as it concerns you, try your best to get along. (I know, with some people that is impossible. So boundaries are a must!)
- You will argue. You will fight. But fight fair. Avoid the name calling and hurtful remarks. You can’t get back the negative words you put out there. Remember you do love each other and you are in it together.
Those were just a few of what I call the cold hard truths of marriage. But please understand, that is not all there is to a marriage. Let me share some of the amazing things about a marriage. When you are in a good marriage you will have:
- A partner for life (at least that’s the plan). You have that one person who will be with you through thick and thin. Sickness and health, life and death, tragedy and triumph. Nothing feels better than to know you have that someone who is there to hold you up when you are weak or to cheer you on when you are making strides. One who sees you at your worst and loves you anyway.
- A helper in decision making. Having your other half there with you to help make decisions. Sometimes big ones, sometimes small and mundane ones. It is good to have someone to be there to help you raise your kids. Being a parent can be so overwhelming. When it gets hard for me, at times I have literally stopped everything to tell my husband how grateful I am to have him here to help with all of this stuff. I tip my hat to single parents. I don’t know how you do it! It’s a hard enough job when there are two parents raising kids.
- A lover for life. I think this one is self explanatory, but it is part of the relationship that can die if not tended to and lead to other issues. Be sure you take care of one another and don’t forget the romance in your relationship. You have to put your relationship first. It can be very hard with demanding jobs and kids, but you have to make an effort. There will be times when “private time” just isn’t something that can happen due to distance, illness or other obligations. But just because you can’t always have physical intimacy, you can strive to maintain emotional intimacy. In many ways, that is more important.
- An opportunity for newness. Every marriage goes through different phases and stages. As you transition from newly wed to new parent to parent of teenagers to empty nesters, look for opportunities to grow and watch for your partner to grow as well. Perhaps one of you has a new job or the two of you have decided to move, you can look forward to what it will bring out in your partner or yourself that perhaps you didn’t know was there. Each new phase of life can bring a newness to your relationship. It can give you a chance to get reacquainted with your spouse all over again.
- Someone to Forgive You. We all do or say things to others that we need to be forgiven for. Your spouse will mess up and it will be up to you to forgive or hold on to the hurt. I strongly suggest you forgive. You will inevitably do or say something to your spouse that you will want forgiveness for. It really is a two-way street. We are all only human and we make mistakes. Having a forgiving spirit will not only help you individually, but it will help the marriage in the long run. I am not talking about abuse or anything along those lines, but the day to day things that we tend to do to one another. Extend the grace to your spouse you would want given to you. It is great having someone in your corner who you know will forgive you even when you miss the mark.
Like I said, these are just a few examples of the good and bad things in a marriage. Everyone’s marriage is different. But if you go into it knowing that things aren’t always going to be great, but knowing that you have a commitment to stick it out regardless, each of you can feel safe in the relationship. Safe to be yourselves and know that at the end of the day, your love and commitment will get you through the tough stuff.