What they didn’t tell me about marriage

October 26, 2014

We hope that finding eternal love will lead to the path where everything is golden, where life feels full and a purpose found.  We are programmed to believe that life is going to be so much better with another person to share it with, and it is for the most part (from my limited experience so far).

What I wasn’t prepared for is that finding your mate after searching far and wide for many years is only one tenth of the work that lies ahead.

I did not realise that marriage would be my greatest test yet. I thought the hard work would have been over with when I finally met ‘the one’. I had enough break ups, things should be easy from now on… right?

Marriage is awesome and wonderful and amazing and hard.

We are in our mid-thirties and know at least three handfuls of people that are separated or divorced. In the last year or two, it seems to be a frequent occurrence that people are onto their second marriage or long term partnership. Add into the mix the couples I know (me included) that have headed for some outside assistance for a relationship check up.

It’s not that easy, sharing your life with another human.

We attended a beautiful wedding just over a year ago. Tears ran down my cheek as the couple said their vows and I clutched my husband’s hand.

This was true love, for sure!

We found out recently that the couple had split.

This news along with other recent breaks ups shook me to the core.

I know the statistics yet it is still scary that divorce is happening all around us.

No one tells you when you are looking for ‘the one’ how hard it is to share your life successfully (and happily) with another person.

You meet someone and you are full of excitement and plans for what the future together holds. In the beginning there is spark, lust and fireworks. Momentum carries you through to the engagement and the wedding, house purchasing and celebrating.. and then comes the big question; what is next?

If children are a part of your plan, then raising a child can give the relationship new focus, and purpose. Looking down the barrel of life with your partner without kids can be a little daunting – yet at the same time full of opportunity and choice.

This has been our toughest year yet, as we settled into the groove of our married life and were forced to answer some of the following questions:

What kind of life do we want? With kids or without kids? Do we want to live overseas? Do we want a pet? Cat or dog? How do we split up our money? What are our expectations of money? Is Christmas important? Is spirituality important? Do we see your family every week?

Added onto the big questions are the day to day naggings like putting the toilet roll around the wrong way (I nominate myself as guilty over here) and not taking the bins out (guilty over there – sorry husband) and all the other inklings that just seem to piss you off. (Some days more than others.)

The most common advice I hear about marriage from people who have ‘made it’ and managed to stay happy, is to never stop talking about the things that matter to you the most.

Daily issues come and go, but you have to make sure that your ‘deal breakers’, that is, the things that to you, are what you are going to get out of your long term relationship and vice versa.

The person you have chosen to share your life with is slightly messy? Not a deal breaker (for me anyway). Suddenly deciding that you never want kids, or deciding that you are only truly happy living in Europe? A deal breaker.

Think about these questions as early as you can, and talk about expectations, doubts and problems as they arise. Don’t ignore things and nor assume that people are automatically on the same page as you. (Male humans are not mind readers.)

For a shared life to work, it takes two people putting in one hundred percent one hundred percent of the time, (not a half-baked effort of fifty-fifty each). This I am discovering.

As I enter my sixth year with the awesome human I have chosen to spend my life with I am going to keep investing all I have.

Happy Sunday XXXXX

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  • Wow this is such a powerful piece of writing and storytelling. To be honest, I’m not yet married but already finding that we’re going through these motions together too. Marriage sure is not how it looks in the movies!

    • Nope it ain’t. And I suppose I should have talked more about just being in a long term committed relationship which is just the same challenges as being married! It is hard! But also awesome. I am looking forward to the end of this year and thinking about all the things we have been through, which only makes me look at James with more love and appreciation.

  • James

    I admit last night when I read this I was a little annoyed, it sounded like my wife was saying our marriage sucked. Rereading it this morning I think it is an excellent piece, so sorry my love, I take back the criticism of last night. I find the little things that annoy you can also teach you to be better person, when you learn to realise that the little things like the toilet roll (will explain in a sec) when you learn to accept them it teaches you to be more tolerant of everything in your life. So thanks my wife.

    The toilet roll: ok so for those of you who like things a little sciencey if you have something the has two possible states what are the odds you will get either state. i.e. if you flip a coin you have a 50% chance of heads and a 50% chance of tails right. So my wife who claims she pays zero attention when putting a new toilet roll on will 100% of the time hang it so the loose piece hangs at the back. I have witnessed her putting the toilet roll on and can confirm she pays absolutely no attention to the way it goes on. So what is happening you ask? I am thinking some kind of quantum black hole where the laws of probability do not exist, calling ghost busters tomorrow.

  • Liz

    Good blog Ash, I thought it was heading in the wrong direction, like that marriage was too hard or not fulfilling but you ended well. It is not about one person expecting it to be perfect and is then disappointed so moves on without trying. It is about accepting that it’s two people, two different people, who have to accept that they will have different views and ideas and learning to accept, reject, argue and eventually agree or agree to disagree but always accept that their underlying love and commitment to each other is the most important thing. There are highs and lows and knowing that when you are in the “low” the high will be just around the corner……and they’re the best!
    I’m afraid I have to warn you that it will be that way for the whole marriage… get used to it and love them all the more.

    The M.I.L

    • Wise Liz! It is like finding the perfect car you want to buy then figuring out without upkeep, servicing and love it won’t go anywhere! I am definatley lucky to have found someone I have so much natural spark with, who I still get butterflies coming home to at the end of.each day. That is special and something to cherish 🙂

  • i can definitely relate, married 6 years, started a charity together (nothing something I recommend for one’s marriage), moved overseas together. We bumble along happily enough although it is very hard at times…

  • I love this. I’ve been with my fiancé for a year and him moving in has been so challenging. But also so wonderful. Like you I am keeping on investing. Thank you for writing this. Best wishes to you and your husband x

    • Ohhh moving in together is such an exciting time and also a big learning curve! Enjoy it and thanks for the comment. Love your blog too by the way!

  • Jess

    There’s a wrong way to put the toilet roll on??? 😉

  • Renlish

    Marriage is one of the hardest things I’ve done. I admit, I’m not very good at it, but he sticks around for some reason so I’m guessing it’s just dumb luck.

    • Agree. But I must say in answering all the tough questions about what to do next it has brought us much closer together and stronger! There is so much focus out there on meeting the one but not much hype about having a great relationship. You sound like you guys are doing okay! X