The Perfect Marriage Doesn’t Exist & 10 Other Things No One Tells You About Getting Hitched

I did it. I went out and found the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with. We did not plan a grand wedding. It was just us, a judge, and our close family at the Justice of Peace. Our wedding planning wasn’t stressful, nor was saying “I do.” However, a few weeks into a marriage I thought was going to be perfect, I realized that staying married takes real work and for many reasons, I was unprepared. Here are a few things that people just didn’t tell me.

  1. Marriage requires patience. I’m going to be honest: there are days when I’m simply tolerating my partner. Those flaws that I overlooked or dubbed “cute” when we first started dating are not so cute when I experience that crap every day. But I decided to commit my life to someone, meaning we chose to accept each other, flaws and all. So on those days when he drives me up the wall, I rely heavily on patience, making sure to choose my battles wisely so that every nuisance doesn’t result in a fight.
  2. Love is an inconsistent feeling. When love is new, it can be magically overwhelming, but friend that feeling doesn’t last forever. As your relationship evolves so does your love. There are days when you don’t feel like saying “I love you.” I had to learn to accept that without guilt. On those days, the sentiment may be more like, “you bring me peace,” or “I’m committed to you.” Whatever the feeling, I know that it’s temporary and that’s what gets me to the next “I love you.”
  3. Nothing is 50/50. There is a horrible myth that marriage is a 50/50 relationship. There’s not a single day where you and your spouse will put in the same amount of money, work, or effort. The scale will always be unbalanced. One of you will do a better job of keeping the house clean, one person will make more money, and one of you will manage finances more efficiently. There are also tons of daily decisions that have to be made and someone has to make them. Each person brings strengths into the marriage. Figure out what works for your relationship and speak up when your load is too heavy.
  4. Communicating expectations is a must. My husband asked me an amazing question before we had our son: “What does being a good father mean to you?” Deep, right? I had a clear picture of what good dads do and he wanted to hear it out loud. Ask your partner about their role expectations. Let them articulate what they think your role in the relationship should be. If they don’t know, discuss it, especially when it comes to children. The conversation around how you plan to raise your kids should go beyond religion and school districts. If your husband thinks that a dad throws a baseball around in the front yard but never changes a diaper, that might be a problem for you.
  5. You’ll have to constantly reimagine date night. Listen, being around the same person daily isn’t that romantic. To keep the intimacy alive, make an effort to spend quality time with your significant other. Date nights don’t have to be pre-planned reservations at a romantic restaurant. I’m a sucker for a late-night childfree stroll through Home Depot or a Sunday trip to the grocery store with a pit stop for ice cream. Call me easy, but spending time alone with my spouse is a priority and I’m flexible about what a good time looks like.
  6. Counseling is good for maintenance. I recommend seeking counseling before and during your marriage. Whether you seek guidance from a mentor couple, a professional therapist, or a spiritual leader, counseling is a powerful tool.
  7. Sexual intimacy takes effort. I’ve heard those horror stories of couples who haven’t had sex in years. I always think to myself, what am I willing to do to avoid that fate? First, understand that intimacy encompasses more than sex. Explore what makes you feel close to your partner and discover new experiences together. What turned you on at the start of your seemingly perfect marriage may no longer work six years in. So check in with one another frequently to discuss what new intimate experiences you can try out.
  8. Venting about your husband to your friends is a no-no. I learned during my dating years that you can’t tell your friends everything. Telling your bestie how your spouse acted like a jerk on your birthday is not a good idea. Guess what: a few days later when your spouse apologizes profusely, explains his bad mood, brings you your favorite Starbucks drink, and takes the kids for a full day, your bestie doesn’t get to experience it. According to psychologist John Cacioppo, “Negative information causes a surge in activity in a critical information processing area of the brain.” Because of this, we focus on the negative more than the positive. So be thoughtful about what you choose to share with people outside of your marriage. When you get over it, they don’t.
  9. It’s no longer about you. When I go out to eat with friends, I text my husband and ask him to look at the menu online to see if he wants me to order him something. I did not start this habit, he did. Considering someone else’s thoughts and feelings may be a new phenomenon to you, but when you get married, this concept must be embraced. You may want Chinese for dinner, but don’t forget to ask your spouse, “What do you have a taste for?” Compromise and thoughtfulness are the names of the marriage game.
  10. It really helps to know about love languages. Check out The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. This book details 5 different ways that people show love. How a person shows love to others, usually is the same way they wish to receive love. For example, my husband shows his love through physical touch. He touches, hugs, and kisses me often. Contrary to that, I show love through acts of service, like doing laundry, folding clothes, grocery shopping, and cooking. I show my love by taking a task off your plate. As you can see, we demonstrate our love in different ways, which has led to conflict. We have to be very intentional about how we show each other love. The action he requires doesn’t come as natural to me, but I remind myself that my husband deserves to know that I love him.
  11. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. No matter how much people would like to convince you otherwise, the perfect marriage (or the perfect relationship in general) just doesn’t exist, and ultimately, that’s a good thing. The real thing is so much better.
Sahara Bryant is a freelance writer from Atlanta, GA who is determined to live life by her own rules. When she's not writing you can find her weight training or indulging in a cheesy slice of pizza (even though she's lactose intolerant). To keep up with her head to