If you’re dating, in a long-term relationship, or engaged, you may be wondering what marriage is like. You probably have friends with good marriages and those who have so-so marriages. Perhaps you’ve got questions, but you don’t know exactly how to ask. Questions like: Is it hard? Is it worth it? Why get married? 

Well, there’s a lot to learn! Here are 10 things you need to know about marriage that will give you some food for thought.

1. Marriage is hard work (but it’s the best kind of hard).

Marriage requires intentional time and attention from both partners. You’ll have times that seem easy and effortless. Other times require more energy.

2. Marriage takes compromise and respect on both sides.

People often say marriage is a two-way street. I like to think of it as a one-way street where you and your spouse are walking together in the same direction. Finding common ground and respect for each other, especially if you disagree on the path, is vital.

3. Marriage: You + Me = We. 

Marriage is two individuals who know themselves (likes, dislikes, stressors, etc.) and continue to grow. When you grow as individuals and learn more about caring for each other, your marriage thrives. 

4. Marriage requires rearranging your priorities.

Life is busy, and you’re probably juggling all kinds of priorities, including work, family, friends, community service, self-care, etc. After you get married, you may have to rearrange some of those priorities. Friends may be a little lower on your list. There are special considerations if you’re already a parent thinking about getting remarried or married for the first time. Preparing for Marriage is a great, FREE course to help you make sure you’re ready!

5. Marriage has seasons.

Marriage changes, like all relationships do. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, smooth and rough times. These seasons are natural and sometimes predictable. It doesn’t necessarily mean something’s wrong with your relationship. Seasons can be times of change and growth instead of trouble, depending on how you handle them. 

6. Marriage has benefits.

Not just that one (wink, wink)! Research shows that married people are healthier, happier, and wealthier. They’re less likely to be depressed. And guess what? Healthy marriages also lead to healthier communities with better schools and lower crime rates.

7. Marriage requires skills.

For a marriage to flourish over time, you’ll need a variety of skills. Communication helps you understand your partner, know when to listen and when to speak. Problem-solving skills help you work together to manage complicated situations. If these tools aren’t your strong points, we’ve got some great resources to help you fill that toolbox! (Check out The Magic of Communication in Marriage, 5 Days to Better Communication in Your Marriage, or do a quick search for communication here.)

8. Be aware of unrealistic expectations.

Many couples enter marriage with unrealistic and/or unspoken expectations on topics like sex, money, and how they’ll spend their alone and together time. Talking with your spouse goes a long way toward minimizing issues that come from unrealistic expectations

9. Marriage is impacted by your family.

No matter where you live, your families affect your marriage, for better or for worse. They raised you and influenced who you are. Some of the things that’ll get on your nerves will probably be habits that started in the homes you grew up in. Remember, this isn’t about blaming anyone, but it’s just so you can be AWARE.

10. Marriage is a daily choice.

After you get married, you get to choose every day to stay married. You get to show your spouse how much you value and love them daily through words and actions. Even if you have a hard day, remembering that you get to start over and choose each other again can give you hope and strength.

I hope this list does not deter you. Marriage is all of these things, but it’s so much more. Marriage is fun. It’s exciting. And it’s an opportunity to grow as a person while you’re part of a couple. More than anything, “Marriage is choosing someone, again and again, to love and to cherish with each new dawn.”

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