There’s a scene in the 90s film My Girl where Vada, the 11-year-old main character, thinks she’s dying. “I’m hemorrhaging!” she yells, frantically looking for her father. As it turns out, she’s not hemorrhaging at all– it’s just her period–but the discovery of something like that can understandably frightening to a girl who isn’t prepared for it. Marriage is the same way. Many of us expect it to be great (and it is), but we don’t expect the not-so-great parts. So, when they show up, we act just like little Vada, running around in a panic, thinking something horrible has happened.
That’s why it’s so important for young couples to be fully informed of what they’re signing up for. This ain’t no game. It’s real, son! The more realistic your expectations, the happier you’ll be.
1. Feeling bored
After the honeymoon ends and the two of you settle into a routine, you might find yourself feeling bored at times. This is especially true for people with children and/or demanding jobs. This isn’t necessarily a sign that you two aren’t compatible or that the chemistry is gone. More than likely, it’s a sign that you two need to reconnect, re-prioritize. Feelings of boredom can actually be a good thing because they can be the impetus needed to take your marriage off the back burner.
Dating can feel like a constant adventure, but marriage is comfortable–sometimes too comfortable. It’s easy to just settle in and go with the flow, but that’s what you have to fight against. If you really want your marriage to be fulfilling, you have to put into it what you expect to get out. Don’t bother trying to “find” time to spend together. Make time. It’s just as important as that meeting, that appointment, that homework. Who wants to aimlessly drift through a marriage when you can actively carve out a satisfying path? As my mother used to tell me every time I complained of being bored: “Boring people get bored.” So if you’re looking for some action, create it!
2. Disagreeing on things you thought you agreed on
If you’re smart, you probably discussed a bunch of relevant issues before marriage. If you’re human, you probably discovered that everything didn’t pan out as smoothly as you thought it would. For example, maybe its money that’s causing some friction. You discussed it beforehand and you both classified yourselves as savers who are focused on building a nest egg. However, once married, you discovered that your definitions of saving aren’t quite aligned. And now you’re fighting over something that seemed like a no-brainer. What happened?
Girl, life happened. That’s all. No biggie. It just means you two need to adjust your game plan. The original plan was based on speculation, how you thought things would go, but now you’ve got some hands-on experience. Use that to your advantage. You’ve both had some time to see the other in action, so keep those things in mind as you (lovingly) discuss the changes you need to make so the two of you can be on one accord.
3. Finding out you don’t know the person as well as you thought
No matter how long you’ve known a person, there are certain things you won’t know until after marriage. We’re not talking major, life-altering discoveries here. Just things you didn’t know. A lot of times, we discover early in marriage that the latent assumptions we held (and, therefore, didn’t think to bring up) are not universal. So, some of the things you thought would happen naturally aren’t happening and you’re left wondering, “Who is this and what has he done with my man?” Don’t stress. He’s still you’re man. You’re just seeing him in his entirety. You’ve being introduced to sides of him that perhaps weren’t relevant before marriage. Don’t look at it as a bad thing. Instead, think of it as a necessary step, the part of your relationship where you get to know each other on a new and deeper level. It’s like homework for lovers. Cool.
4. Discovering that your spouse has more negative traits than you originally noticed
Now that the rose-colored glasses are gone, you’re noticing all kinds of things that, seemingly, just popped up out of the blue. “When did he develop OCD?” “When did he become so moody?” “Has he always been this cheap?” Though these traits seem new, they’re nothing of the sort. They were there all along, but your love-struck behind didn’t see it! The same goes for him. He’s probably looking at you like, “I don’t like that… or that… or that… and definitely not that.”
Depressing, huh. Not really. You don’t have to like every single thing about your husband to be happily married. You just have to like him more than you dislike him. You just have to choose to love him despite the spots and blemishes. Think of the other people you love (your parents, siblings, friends). Do you love every single thing about them? Probably not, but you’d never let that get in the way of your relationship. Why? Because the good outweighs the bad, because they make you happy more than they do sad, because they make you laugh more than they do cry. In short, there is a reliable benefit in the relationship. Marriage is no different.
5. Second-guessing your decision to get married
In the words of Chris Rock, “If you haven’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love.” I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I get where he’s coming from. His point? Intimate relationships are hard, so hard that you’d rather not deal with it at times. That doesn’t mean you should divorce. It means you have to know that this, too, shall pass.
No she didn’t hit me with that trite a_ _ cliche, you say to yourself. Oh, yes, I did. So, what, you wanna fight? No, seriously, it really will pass, especially if you know how to handle conflict, especially if you remember that your spouse always deserves respect, especially if you know that the ego must die. The next time you find yourself wondering if you’ve made the right choice, imagine how it would be without your spouse. Think of what it would be like to be alone, without his love, without his touch. If that’s not what you want, there’s your answer.