Getting married is among life’s major turning points, right up there with having a kid or accepting that you’re not straight after all. And like every other turning point, it has a lot to teach. It is a University of Lifelong Learning in itself, even if you eventually get divorced. Like individuals, each marriage is different and comes with a unique set of lessons and epiphanies. Here are some that I gathered along the way, not just from my own, but all marriages around me – successful or otherwise.
1. It’s not a fairy tale. Hell, it’s not even a tale with fairies in it. Hanging on to the myth of the perfect marriage is a sure-shot recipe for disappointment. But the good news is that the larger part of the script is in your control.
2. You don’t need a soul mate. You need someone you can be yourself with and not mind having them in close proximity for extended periods of time, even in confined spaces. You do know what it means to share a bed with another human, right? For the rest of your life?
3. You are a team. Literally. Not the ‘we complete each other’s sentences and read each other’s minds’ kind of team, but the ‘you chop the vegetables while I do the dishes’ kind of team. Marriage is where the shit gets real.
4. Love may seem like the foundation stone but it takes a lot more than love to keep it going – trust, respect, dependability, understanding and a deeper connection. At the same time, marriages can survive on a lot less than love too – friendship for example. Confused? Me too.
5. Larger compatibility issues can be mostly worked out, but there is no logical way around your disagreement over air-conditioner settings, TV channel preferences and your inexplicable disdain for some of your partner’s friends.
6. This might sound a little primitive, but good sex can keep the worst of marriages alive. When you think about it, marriage is just an elaborate mating ritual with a lot of unnecessary social/cultural paraphernalia attached.
7. It can get ugly. Sometimes it will make you want to give up, but most times it will make you want to fight for the sake of the togetherness you both signed up for.
Related reading: 10 reasons why Indian couples fight
8. It’s not for everyone, and I mean it in the most non-condescending way possible. Marriage starts where freedom ends and even if you find yourself the most accommodating spouse, you still can’t have everything your way.
9. You will not change for each other. If anything, you will become more yourself with time. And that can be equal parts liberating and devastating.
10. It can feel like a blessing or a curse depending on how the day has been or what happened an hour ago. You are more likely to advise your single friends to ‘never get married’ if you’ve just fished out a stash of dirty socks from under the bed.
11.The scales will always be tilted. One of the two will always give more to the relationship than the other, and it always helps to not keep tabs if the relationship means enough to you.
12. Marriage is a part of life, not your whole life. You’ll be paving a path for long-term resentment if you compromise on your passions, dreams, ambitions, preferences, social life, beliefs or identity. Belong to yourself before you belong to anyone else.
Related reading: 7 tips to make marriages work
13. Just because nothing’s wrong, doesn’t mean everything’s right. The absence of sadness does not equal happiness. Just because you love each other, doesn’t mean you like each other. You see where I am going with this?
14. It’s not a bubble. There’s family, extended family and their cousins. You just can’t wish them away, even if you desperately want to. They’ll always be a part of your life and possibly, even your relationship.
15. It’s ok to want to kill your spouse sometimes and you’ll know your marriage is working if true love prevents you from actually doing so.
16. Despite the crests and troughs, it is some solace to know that there’s at least one person in the world who has seen you at your absolute worst, and still chooses to be with you.
If you’ve been married for long enough, you’ll know that it is a mixed bag of emotions and experiences that can barely be covered in a listicle like this one. What would you add?