Marriage is the best! But it’s not perfect. If you’re engaged, I think it’s only fair someone breaks the news to you. There are some definite misconceptions about marriage you should know before you say, “I do.”
Having recently been in your shoes (about a year ago now), I’m glad to have figured this out! My hope is that you have an amazing first year of marriage and many years to follow. A great place to start is with clearing up a few misconceptions about marriage. Whether you are finding out about or being reminded of these 5 things, I encourage you to seriously consider them.
Misconception #1. Marriage will solve whatever problems you currently have.
As amazing as that would be, a title and official seal of foreverness does not equal problem-free reality. If you know something is creating friction for you now while you’re engaged… work on it before “I do.” The hardest conversations are always worth having and though they may not feel great in the moment, they are more than likely the most important to have. (Besides, you may have the luxury of going back to your own place if you need some space. Once you’re living together you only have a few rooms to work with, and that may only be the bathroom if you’re in a one-bedroom like me!) You want to start this new chapter fresh. Lessen your baggage by bringing in more solutions than problems. You have to put in some legwork, but it’s so worth it!
Misconception #2. Your spouse will be the only emotional support system you’ll need.
Wooo–wee on this one. Let me tell you, you will be very disappointed if you fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re marrying someone to be their one and only, they’ll be the only one you need. To hold an expectation for your spouse that they are the only key to your happiness, comforting you when you’re sad, or even magically want to pick up and join you in all of your hobbies is to be disappointed. Just like you, your fiancé is human and when they become your spouse, they will be human then, too.
My dad died unexpectedly this year, one month into our marriage. I am 24, so it feels young. Though my husband was absolutely there to hold me, I needed someone to talk with to verbally process what just happened.
My husband is an internal processor and doesn’t want to say anything until he feels like he has the right words to say. Instead of putting pressure on him to try and talk to me in depth about what was going on and potentially being upset by how he handled it, I called my best girlfriend. She processes things like I do. That’s what I needed. This didn’t make my husband any less loving or capable (because goodness he is the most loving)it just gave us both the space to do what we needed. He supported me by not leaving my side and holding me while my best friend talked me through my emotions.
It’s healthy to have people you can depend on outside of your own home. Having an opportunity to navigate this so early in our marriage really got us on the right track. Even though it was a painful and tragic thing to happen, it was so good for our marriage because it reminded us that we don’t have to carry the weight of being the only source of stability for each other. It takes a village!
Misconception #3. You’ll hang out all the time because you live together.
Would be nice, but isn’t exactly as it seems. I hope I’m not breaking any hearts here—I’m just wanting to be honest with you. Though you do spend a lot of time together, it looks different than while dating. Your love life and work life are a little more separate when you aren’t married. I love the perks of coming home to my handsome man. We share bills, chores, meals over candlelight, and a bed!
Despite coming home to each other, if you both work a full-time job, that’s 40 hours a week apart (let’s set COVID-19 aside as the exception here for a moment) you aren’t together. Then you come home, if you work out after your job, have to make dinner, clean up, shower or prepare for the next day of work, you begin to notice how coming home at 5 and getting enough sleep leaves only a few hours to get everything done.
Just breathing the same air or sitting on the same couch doesn’t mean you’re really connecting. We are so guilty of being on our phones while next to each other and look up at the time and just ask where it went. We’ve gone to bed saying “I missed you today” or “I feel like we didn’t even see each other!” while being in the same house. (Let’s bring COVID-19 back for a moment because this was recent while working from home!)
Quantity of time together doesn’t equal quality. Quality time takes being intentional and showing an effort. If you are blessed enough to have the same schedule, use it to your advantage and enjoy each other and enjoy meaningful time together. There are many couples who don’t have the luxury of sharing meals together with one person working the night shift and the other the morning shift. I’m not trying to guilt trip you into hanging out… ok, maybe I am just a little, but you’ll thank me. Have a family meeting and talk about your schedule. Pencil in quality time together.
Misconception #4. The first year is the hardest year.
I’m going to be honest. Hearing people say this frustrates me. Your first year does not have to be your hardest! Take it from someone who has dealt with: losing and starting a new job, losing their father, my husband being crashed into while driving my car (that we just had fixed), my mom getting in a wreck, my husband’s trip to the ER (an expensive date for four stitches lemme tell ya), my husband getting more responsibility at work which meant more work at home, unexpected bills, family members in the hospital, COVID-19 and quarantine… I could go on. That all sounds like a recipe for conflict and stress—but it wasn’t. Each situation that went wrong was an opportunity to grow closer together.
Was it hard? Some parts, but it was also so sweet. In the midst of all of those things: we fell more in love, rescued two of the sweetest kitties, got to travel, went camping, played tons of games, experienced new things, danced in the kitchen (many times) while making dinner, laughed at each other and ourselves, came home to our best friend, spend more uninterrupted quality time with each other than ever before (thank you, quarantine), learned new things about each other, shared stories, made a lot of memories, and the list could go on.
We consciously made an effort to continue pursuing each other, assume the best of one another, have a good attitude, resolve conflict, and be romantic.
We have been together almost 8 years and this year topped them all. If you put in the work and continue to pursue each other, I bet your first year can be wonderful despite whatever life may throw at you.
Misconception #5. Your spouse will know everything you want.
So remember how I said your fiancé, once you marry them, will still be human when they become your spouse? Yeah. This remains true a few paragraphs later. Unfortunately, when you reach husband or wife status, you don’t become a mind reader! (Mind-blowing, I’m sure.) I am SO guilty of this, and I definitely have a natural ability to pick up on feelings other people don’t. (For you Enneagram people out there, I am a 2!).
I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have had the conversation about needing to tell each other what we need and what we want. Sometimes, when we assume, we get it wrong. You know how the saying goes. Even though you two know each other better than anyone else, it’s dangerous to presume that they know what you mean without saying or explaining it. You’re going to have to keep working at communication.
This goes back to the expectations thing I mentioned before. You have to play your part in informing the other person what it is that is really on your mind and heart. Communication is king. If there’s one thing to become a pro at in marriage, it’s communicating (I’m sure you could think of a few more areas to be well-versed in).
Communicate often and clearly. Never put yourself in the position of thinking you know everything there is to know about your spouse. You’ll get bored! Being married isn’t a finish line—it’s the beginning of an ongoing process.
*Helpful hint for the ladies: they still don’t pick up on hints. Just save yourself the trouble and ask very direct questions, *wink wink.*
With these common misconceptions about marriage out in the open, I hope you have a better understanding of what not to expect. Truly, perspective and expectations are everything. You and your fiancé will navigate all of it together—you aren’t alone! As some of these things try and sneak their way into your marriage, I hope you feel equipped to kick them out! Oh, and smooch along the way… it’s good for you.