As any married person will tell you, despite how beautiful and blissful this sacred union generally is, married life isn't all sunshine and roses. Marriage requires hard work and commitment, but once you truly commit yourself to another person for the rest of your life, you'll learn so much about who you both are. Here, we asked six women to share what marriage has taught them about love and life, and each shared what they wish they'd known before they said "I do."
That you have to continue to fall in love with your partner.
"After 12 years of marriage, I realized we were not the same two people. We had grown and changed in many ways," says Tiffini G. "My husband took on new habits—some good, some horrible—and I had to adjust to this person who was a bit different from the person I initially said 'I do' to." Despite how much Tiffini loves her husband, she admits that experiencing "growing pains" in the relationship wasn't something she expected. "I wish I would have known that I would have to learn to fall in love with my husband's new quirks so it wouldn't feel so hard to get adjusted to as the years go by."
How important it is to listen to each other.
For Bracha G., years of marriage taught her how essential it is to really hear her husband. "I learned not to multitask when I was with my husband and to give him my undivided attention. Once we grasped an understanding of how to properly communicate, it revitalized our marriage significantly," she says. "I still have to force myself to sit down next to him and resist doing dishes or checking my phone, but the bond between us is now full of energy. I think I'd call this 'mindful marriage'—the thrill of being in the moment with your life partner."
That your new family should be your priority.
Some challenges bring couples closer together, while others make it difficult for a couple to see eye-to-eye, which is something Mitzi B. wishes she had understood early on. "My ex-husband and I spent so much time negotiating our way around our extended families and the expectations they had for us that what we actually wanted and needed for our new family was completely ignored," she says. As a result, every interaction with our extended families led to conflict. Ultimately, not being able to balance what we wanted with what our extended families wanted tore us apart and we separated."
How to merge finances.
Money is one of the biggest factors married couples fight about, which is why it's so important to be clear about finances from the start. "My husband and I entered our marriage with very relaxed financial perspectives. We met when we were 40 and, by that time, you are pretty established in your habits and ways of operating, so merging wasn't an easy or very successful transition," says Stacie K. "It felt messy and not extremely organized. If I could go back in time I wish we would have talked more and created a plan for how we would approach money."
That alone time is important.
Taking time for yourself and being able to do the things you enjoy on your own is important in any relationship, but it was something Noelle R. wasn't quite prepared for. "No one ever warned me about how everyone needs a space of their own. After we were married, I found that he needed alone time and a room where he could be himself and put his things the way he wanted them," she explains. "It was challenging when he wanted to play his guitar and I wanted to read quietly. We finally resolved the issue by dedicating one room to him. I'm convinced it has spared us unnecessary arguments and has helped create longevity in our marriage." Had she known how important it was, she says creating a dedicated space for each of them in the home is something they would have done "first thing after we said 'I do.'"
That the relationship may get easier.
Jeannette R. and her husband were together for eight years before they got married, so she was initially nervous that marriage would be more difficult than any other part of their relationship. "I'd heard how difficult marriage is, but no one really tells you how difficult relationships can be before marriage—when you're learning about all the intricacies of this person and deciding whether or not you want to spend your life with them," she says. "Now that we're married, we have our disagreements and issues, and I know there will be ebbs and flows along the way, but I find marriage to be easier on average. I made the decision to spend the rest of my life with this person and there's no turning back. There's something so beautiful in that. It makes getting through the tough times easier."