We look for a perfect hallmark card when we go to weddings but marriages are more than just happily ever after. It takes a lot of patience and effort to make a relationship work and marriages are no exception. There are several truths about marriage one gets to know and experience only after the deed is done.
We get married with a lot of expectations and ideas of what it will be like but more often than not, we form unrealistic beliefs of how fairytale-like the whole journey will be. This piece is an attempt to set those assumptions right and give you the truths about marriage, some harsh and some obvious.
In this article, trauma-informed counseling psychologist Anushtha Mishra (MSc. Counseling Psychology), who specializes in providing therapy for concerns such as trauma, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, grief, and loneliness among others, writes about the reality of marital life, along with eleven harsh truths about marriage no one talks about.
11 Harsh Truths About Marriage No One Talks About
Marriages are far from perfect, they are real. It means joy and happiness along with a lot of struggles. Understanding this means acknowledging that you are building a life with a person who has their quirks and shortcomings, is annoying and yet wonderful to you, just like you are.
Marriages are beautiful, and there’s no denying how perfect moments between two partners can be. But the opposite is also inevitable. Fights, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings are also a part of the package. So, here is a list of the truths about marriage that nobody talks about but are essential for the survival of a long-term relationship:
1. Lack of communication can cost you your relationship
Communication is the foundation of any marriage. We tend to assume that lack of communication wouldn’t affect the marriage on a day-to-day basis and that’s how things start to go south. Honest and considerate communication is what brings in mutual respect and resolves misunderstandings.
Verbal, non-verbal, and physical communication is easier said than done and that is why marriage is difficult. On some days, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to just talk about stuff with each other and on those days, it becomes even more important that you do that. This is one of the most fundamental truths about marriage.
Everyone has a different way of communicating – some do it through words while others through actions. The sooner you find a communication style that works for your marriage, the easier it will be. It will also bring marital satisfaction.
2. Marriage is not a solution to your problems
One of the harsh realities of marriage is that it isn’t what we envision it to be as 8-year-old kids watching Disney movies where the guy saves the damsel in distress. You are what you make of yourself and marriage isn’t going to fulfill you or, in a manner of speaking, save you from your troubles.
If you have any concerns that you need to work on, only you can work on them. A marriage is about supporting your partner and your partner can support you through the journey of your healing, but the healing has to be done by you. Marriage isn’t the solution to self-fulfillment. Nor is it a destination and that’s just one of the many truths about marriage.
It’s a journey you and your partner embark on in life. Marriage will bring highs and lows along with it. It will bring pain and insecurities inside your door as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married, the solution to your problems is you and that’s the hidden truth of marriage.
3. Harsh truth about marriage – It’s not 50/50
Idealistically, we want everything in the marriage to be divided equally. Shared household chores, work, and everything in between. But the reality is not always idealistic and that’s why marriage is difficult. In any marriage, it is never 50/50 but that isn’t such a bad thing either.
On days your partner is down, it’ll be on you to take on the larger share of the effort to make things work. You’ll take on different roles on different days and so will your spouse. When you feel torn, the onus of responsibility will fall on your partner. It is divided work, yes, but not necessarily equal every time and that’s just one of the truths about marriage you need to accept.
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4. Mismatched love languages can lead to marital dissatisfaction
Every one of us has a different love language that describes our ways of feeling, receiving, and expressing love. One of the truths about marriage that not many people understand or acknowledge is that the expressions of love that come naturally to you may not agree with your spouse. Understanding each other’s love language and using it as a medium of communication is what makes a marriage work.
Dr. Gary Chapman came up with 5 love languages or ways in which people in relationships express love. They are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. When you learn your spouse’s love language, the process of communicating your love and feelings to them becomes smoother.
Communicating in your partner’s love language can take a bit of effort and intention, especially when it’s different from yours. But, if both of you are committed to loving one another in your unique language, you’ll not only find yourself deeper in love but also a fulfilling marriage.
5. Some compromise is inevitable
One of the harsh realities of marriage is the “my way or the highway” attitude does not work. It’s the “our way together” approach that helps build a strong marriage. When it’s a shared space, both partners will need to make some compromises in the marriage from time to time to maintain a harmonious relationship.
In a marriage, both partners should be willing to meet each other halfway whenever required. Compromise is not a hard lesson once you realize the gifts that come from it. Learning to work together will make your relationship and your life a better place to be.
However, there are things you should never compromise on within any relationship, these include. your self-esteem and self-worth. When we talk about compromise here, it looks more like compromising on where to spend the holidays or dividing household labor, and more, but never on your principles, values, self-respect, and dignity.
6. Periods of sexual slack
Almost all marriages go through phases of sexual slack where you might not have sex with your spouse for weeks or sometimes months and the intimacy may fade away for that time. This is the hidden truth of marriage. It doesn’t mean that the love has run out. There are many factors to it such as childbirth, hectic schedule, stress, fatigue, responsibilities, and more.
But even when your sex life might have flatlined, intimacy is still necessary. There is so much more to intimacy than just sex. Physical intimacy also includes non-sexual gestures like a long kiss, some good flirting, a long tight hug, cuddling, or a playful touch.
7. You have to take care of yourself
Understanding and taking care of yourself plays a huge role in making a successful marriage. It is one of the fundamental truths about marriage. To understand why you relate the way you do to your partner, you have to understand yourself and do the inner work.
We are a reflection of our childhood experiences, the relationships we formed during that time with our parents and siblings, and the relationships we idolized such as our parents’. We bring all these relationships into our marriage as well. Doing your inner work independent of your partner, therefore, becomes crucial.
Inner work can look like reflecting on your patterns and beliefs. Like Joanna, who has been married for almost a decade, tells me, “The hardest truth about my marriage is realizing that I have to be my own anchor and take care of myself before I can even begin to take care of my spouse if he needs any care that is.” This is the reality of life after marriage.
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8. Sometimes, love just isn’t enough
Yet another one of the lesser-known truths about marriage is that it requires more than just pure love to survive. It requires constant effort and work. It requires honesty, trust, respect, and open communication, and no, these are not synonymous. Similar life goals and a positive outlook are also fundamental to making any marriage work.
Many couples separate or get divorced despite being still in love with each other because sustaining a bond as intimate as a marriage takes a lot more than feeling the love inside. Love is definitely the driving force that would inspire you to take that extra leap of faith and make the relationship work, but the work still needs to be done.
There are so many expectations and needs in a marriage or any relationship that only love can’t fulfill. It might come out bleak but, sometimes, love does fall short in relationships, whether we like it or not. Joanna adds, “No matter how much I love my partner, the truth about my marriage is that other factors sometimes weigh more than love in sustaining it.”
9. It needs a lot of maintenance
Our bodies require maintenance to stay healthy and gardens need maintenance to grow. Marriage is no different. This is one of the truths about marriage that nobody tells us. To make a marriage work smoothly in the long run, you need to be in check with each other’s wants and desires, which change over time.
One very simple way to do this is by asking each other, “How are we doing?” Reflect on the answers both of you get to that question. Sometimes, we put our relationship on autopilot mode while we are busy living our daily lives.
Ways you can pump up the maintenance are by trying something new together, parallel play maybe, accessing your sexual fantasies, asking your partner intimate questions, and making the effort of going the extra mile every now and then for your spouse. This is the reality of life after marriage.
10. Time apart is as important as time together
One of the truths about marriage is that you have to recognize and respect the fact that sometimes your spouse needs alone time too. Taking time out to make your health and relaxation a priority will give way to a newfound appreciation for one another.
This isn’t to say that you spend all your time by yourselves. Make time for date nights too – even if it’s just having a conversation over a glass of wine in the dining hall. You need to get creative about how you can take time out for yourself as well as for each other.
When it comes to using time, balance and compromise are essential. Marital quality is added by a mix of time with friends and family, time together as a couple, and separate time for each partner. So, figure out a way to strike a balance.
11. It’s a choice you make every day
As stated before, marriage is not just about love. It’s a conscious choice and a shared responsibility. This choice is not something you make only on your wedding day. You wake up every day with this choice in mind and you go to bed each day with the shared commitment in mind.
Marriage is not only about the big events that happen in your life but also about the mundanity of your daily lives over small little tasks. Through this mundane routine, you make a choice that you want to spend your days with your spouse, you choose them every minute of the day and make your marriage stronger. Sometimes that choice can be hard to make every day but that’s just one of the harsh truths about marriage.
- We get married with a lot of expectations and ideas of what it will be like but more often than not, we form unrealistic beliefs of how fairytale-like the whole journey will be
- Fights, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings are all bound to happen in a marriage
- Communication is everything
- Marriage is not a solution to your problems, it’s not always going to be a 50/50 partnership, some compromise is inevitable
- You need to learn each other’s love language so that the effort and work being put in by both partners doesn’t go unrecognized
- There will be periods of sexual slack, you have to take care of yourself, and just love isn’t enough
- In a marriage, time apart is as important as time together and it’s a choice you make every day
Marriage is so much more than the wedding day. We spend so much time planning our picture-perfect wedding and spend so little time actually planning the rest of our lives that we have to spend together with our spouses.
A relationship has different seasons, some bright and some not so much. On some days, all we can do is just try. All you can do is give it your best shot. On other days, just sit back and enjoy this beautiful life with your partner. These are eleven hard truths about marriage that no one talks about but should because they can help you navigate your married life on a daily basis.