1. You realize that you know absolutely nothing about marriage. Forget everything you’ve read and everything your parents ever told you. Every relationship is different, and every couple ultimately has to define marriage for themselves.
2. You discover the importance of communication. The foundation of a successful marriage is communication—with your husband, but also with your friends, whom you will definitely need to vent to regularly.
3. You realize that men are kind of interchangeable. Every marriage is unique, but so many women are married to men who seem to make the same types of mistakes. Over and over and over again.
4. You learn that marriage involves a whole new set of responsibilities you never even knew about. No matter how prepared you think you are, the duties and responsibilities that arise every day once you’re wed are overwhelming even for the most alpha women out there.
5. If you don’t let the small thing go, your relationship will suffer. Put your ego aside and kiss your grudges goodbye. You’re bound to be disappointed by your husband sometimes, no matter how highly you value him. Little, frustrating things will happen repeatedly, but the key is to maintain perspective and to let those small things go (so you can save your energy to be pissed about the big things, of course).
6. Marriage isn’t an equal give-and-take. You both work as a team to make each other happy and to strengthen your bond, but sometimes one spouse has to do more to pick up the other’s slack. And vice versa. Don’t keep track of who did what, or who’s giving more. Doing so almost always ends in fighting.
7. TRUST. TRUST. TRUST. If you don’t trust your partner, you are setting your marriage up for failure. But I’m not just talking about trusting your partner not to cheat. I mean trusting them with the house, with your finances, and with yourself— your feelings, your heart and all your darkest secrets. Trust them with all you’ve got.
8. Don’t expect the honeymoon phase to last. The honeymoon phase is exactly what it sounds like: a phase. Once you get past that phase, you might think something is terribly wrong. There is nothing wrong. Things might slow down, but it’s your job as a couple to work towards keeping the spark alive.
9. Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s. You never know what happens behind closed doors, so the best you can do is focus on making your marriage better and stronger without speculating about what every other couple is up to.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of in-laws. You will have a relationship with them too. You might think it doesn’t matter who raised your spouse, but it does. Maintaining a good relationship with your in-laws is crucial to making your marriage and your life overall easier. In-laws can make or break your relationship.
11. Sex can get boring with the person you love, so don’t hesitate to make it more exciting. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various bedroom tricks. Consulting your nearest and dearest via group chat about how to spice things up is always a good idea. And don’t worry too much about it because sexual lulls are just part of the deal.
12. If you are not in a rush to have kids, take some time to enjoy each other’s company first. Your special time will be very limited once you bring a kid into the picture, so try to enjoy your alone time together for as long as you possibly can.
13. Traveling is the best relationship Band-aid. Taking a vacation and getting away from your routine lives together is the quickest fix to all your marital woes. It’s single-handedly the easiest way to bounce back from a bad fight (or at least escape it temporarily), and to remember just how much you love each other.
14. You have to be flexible. Your priorities will change, and your partner’s will too. You might also face unexpected problems (miscarriages, financial issues, family losses) that will require you to adapt. To make a marriage work, you both have to be flexible because your worlds are intertwined. You can’t have a one-track mind.
15. Being single isn’t so bad after all. At some point when you are married, you start to miss some aspects of the single life. This is normal, especially if you get married at a young age. So if you’re still single, enjoy it! Marriage is beautiful, but it also comes with dues to pay. Make your single days as memorably as possible, because one day you’ll look back on them longingly from your perch as a married person.