8 Things No One Tells You About Marriage
2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.
Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume
"work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat.
In your naiveté, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying
habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.
If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not
simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths — and from where he
sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way
that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married
doesn't mean you're done — it just means you've advanced to graduate-level
studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material,
he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real
work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the
"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo, NY.
"You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then
you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever
thing." So don't be too hard on yourself — or him — on those days when you
feel like you're struggling through remedial math.
3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).
Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't
know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one
spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this
scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.
You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give
it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs
to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're
angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that
seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling
underappreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to
unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe
you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out,
sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly
back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and
more wound up.
Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights
that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings
just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse
for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women
we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to
keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until
I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself — let the emotions
settle a bit — and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight
the next day."