My husband and I were together for 10 years before we decided to get married.
Naively, I thought this meant that I knew everything there was to know about him, about us. We had traveled together, so I’d had a glimpse of what it would be like to live with him. We had our fair share of arguments, so I knew just what that tic in his jaw meant and what I had said to cause it. We had grown from the idealism of our 20s to the realism of our 30s, so we were going into this marriage knowing there would be nothing fairytale-like about it.
But two years into our marriage, I realize that there are many things people don’t tell you about it. Those who have been married for fifty years or more will probably scoff and say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, kid,” but this early I feel there are already some things I can share to those who are just starting their journey together as husband and wife.
For instance, marriage is dirty and ugly. Dates always meant dressing up, spending hours putting on the makeup that will help you achieve that No Makeup Look, making sure to wear the nice underwear just in case. Being together 24/7 throws all of that out the window. Suddenly, he has front-row seats to your completely bare face first thing in the morning, your penchant for wearing oversized t-shirts and sweatpants around the house, your ugly-cry face that comes out whenever you watch your favorite rom-com. You, meanwhile, have to endure fart bombs, a smelly bathroom, the rough stubble on his jaw when he’s gone five days without a shave, and all of the other things that come with living with a boy.
All of a sudden, those quirks aren’t as endearing anymore. What was once a cute habit of forgetting where to put things has become you endlessly picking up after him to make sure things are in their proper place. That clumsiness of yours that had him tousling your hair affectionately has translated into banning you from holding the knives in the kitchen. It’s little things, really, but when you deal with those little things day in and day out, it can drive you nuts.
When pushed to the limit, you will fight over inane things. You will have screaming matches over the wet towels on the floor (“How many times do I have to ask you to just hang them?? That’s what the towel bars are for!!!”). You will throw a fit over having to run to get the phone when he’s actually nearer and he heard it ring first (“It’s your mother calling anyway, so you get it!”). Think of the lamest thing you could ever argue about, and it will probably be the biggest fight you’ll ever have.
So it’s really important to pick your battles. Do you really want to spend all that time and energy fighting over socks? Do you really want to have a three-day silent war just because someone forgot to turn off the lights before leaving the house, and no one wants to admit it who it was? If it’s something that you can let go off when you take a deep breath and slowly count to ten, then it’s not worth wasting time and energy.
In fact, a lot of things are not worth it. Venting to one another about a hard day at work? It doesn’t make the day any better, plus you just dumped all of your emotional baggage on him and demanded he carry it. He forgot to buy bread on the way home? There’s always time to buy it tomorrow before breakfast. It’s really not worth fighting over.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. That’s why marriage is filled with conscious choices. You choose to wake up early and cook his favorite breakfast—not because he asked you to, but because you want to. You choose to accept that he will always forget where he put his things, so you decide to just remember for him to make life easier for everyone. He chooses to accept that you are moody, so he will just hold you tight without question when you’re having one of those days. Things can easily swing the other way, where you find yourself feeling resentful, so you need to make the conscious decision to choose to feel positive instead.
The positive side is that you need each other. He needs you to remember things for him, to help him navigate the roads when he’s hopeless at reading maps, to pay the bills on time because you keep better track of these things. You need him to remind you to not work too hard and have fun sometimes, to take you on adventures you would never think of going on, to worry about you even if you reassure him that you can handle yourself.
For all of the pain, tears, and challenges it brings, marriage is most beautiful in the quietest, simplest moments. Back rubs after a long day. Touching toes while lying side-by-side in bed. Getting up in the middle of the night to take the other’s temperature and bring the medicine with a glass of water. Soft kisses before going to sleep. Even taking out the trash before being asked to do it becomes a loving act. When seen through loving eyes, everything becomes beautiful.
No matter what you go through, how many fights you have, or how many tears you cry, one thing is true at the end of the day—love always wins.