There will be good days and the not-so-good days. Some days you’ll feel more like roommates than lovers. There may even be days when you feel like complete strangers and wonder if you’ve grown apart.
My husband and I have learned a lot of lessons about marriage, mostly through trial and error. Here are eight things I wish I’d known about marriage before I got married:
1. Don’t wake up angry. Everyone always says, “Don’t go to bed angry,” but in my experience, it’s worse to start the day off mad at each other. Getting angry in the morning is the easiest way to have a crappy day overall. Being kind to one another, and setting the day off on the right foot, is crucial.
2. Passion comes and goes, but intimacy should be a constant. There are a million different ways to show intimacy, from sexy times to just hugging your spouse while they cook dinner. Kissing, flirting and touching go a long way and will ultimately strengthen your bond with your partner.
3. Romantic love is not unconditional. It has to be continually earned. Don’t get so comfortable that you begin to take one another for granted. Go out of your way to show each other love and enjoy each other’s company.
4. Don’t just say, “I love you.” After time, it can become monotonous. Mix it up and say things like, “Marrying you was the best decision I ever made,” or, “I’m so lucky to have you in my life,” or, “You’re the best husband/wife ever.” The words you use to express love to your partner can bring out the best in each other.
5. Don’t take stress out on one another. Life is hard. Parenting is even harder. Sometimes we take things out on the people we love the most, because we trust that they’ll love us no matter what. But being stressed is never an excuse to talk down to your partner or say unkind things. Go for a walk, take a break; do whatever it is you need to do to calm down before you say something you’ll regret.
6. Time apart is as important as time together. Both will give you a renewed appreciation for your partner.
7. Communication is key. It’s imperative to share our needs, feelings and desires with our spouse. No one can read your mind. If something is wrong, don’t say “nothing” when your partner asks. Find a way that you can both talk openly and honestly with one another.
8. Help each other out, but don’t keep score. So much of marriage is finding a balance that works for your family. No one partner should have to take on all of the household chores or take care of the kids. There needs to be give and take, but don’t keep a tally about whose turn it is to do what. Just try to ensure there’s reciprocity in your relationship.
There isn’t any magic formula that will make everything sunshine and rainbows. It’s work, but when you’re kind, open, honest and able to appreciate and show love for your partner, you might be surprised how much closer you can feel to your spouse.