Many people around the world, especially Americans believe that the ultimate key to a happy existence is a successful long-term relationship. While this can be true, it is only so if we choose to make it so. Marriage is a choice. It’s not something that just happens, and it should not be entered into lightly. Furthermore there is a large misconception that the person we marry will solve all of our problems. First of all, what a tall order to ask of another human being who has their own set of desires, sorrows, insecurities, etc! Secondly, if you’ve read Why Love Hurts and Being a Wholesome Half, you’ll remember that the only person who can ever bring you salvation is YOU. Without further ado, here are five very important things to know before getting married.
1. It’s not a movie: You know at the end of all of those Disney movies and romantic comedies when the happy couple gets married and/or rides into the sunset? Ever wonder what happens after that? Chances are it’s not good. Most of the time those characters have known each other for a matter of days or months. Well they’re in for a real slap in the face. The point is that marriage is not a fairy tale. And I don’t mean this in a negative way. Marriage can be both a painful and joyful experience, during the first years especially. It can also be one of the most fulfilling undertakings of one’s life. But it is not a two-dimensional cliché made of rainbows and sunshine-dust.
2. There will be disillusionment: There will, in most cases, be a period of disillusionment. After the passionate heat of newly unionized love wears off, life continues and the combination of daily stresses and expectations shifting may lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment. This is completely normal. Where we can get into trouble is the course of action taken in response to the disillusionment. There are more or less three outcomes. First, the disillusionment can lead to eventual separation. Second, it could lead to a grudging acceptance wherein both people are simply ‘dealing with’ one another. OR finally, to a re-examination of desires and goals for the relationship, and an acquirement of new tools with which to work through the difficulties (resulting in some of that passionate love being thrown back into the mix). Hint: pick the third option, it can be indescribably challenging, but so worth it, and it will help you grow as an individual.
3. 50-50 is an impossible ideal: Most believe that marriage should be a 50-50 give and take relationship. But the hard truth is, that will never be the case. It may be 60-40 or 70-30 consistently. In fact, many couples live very happily this way. Those numbers can also fluctuate and change between partners from time to time. Each couple must find their own acceptable mode of living.
4. You cannot change your spouse: Maybe you’re thinking, ‘that’s the oldest one in the book.’ That may be, but it doesn’t change the fact that most couples try it anyway. Much of the time, we are not even aware that we are acting from this natural desire. It is very normal for a human being to want those closest to them to be in alignment with his/her beliefs, values, and general way of life, but we must be conscious of the fact that we cannot change any one else. We can only change ourselves, and this requires intense presence. For example, we must try to avoid focusing on our partner’s negative traits and flaws. When we do this we start getting into ‘blaming’ territory. The idea that if you were only ‘this way,’ then my life would be better. Far better is to focus on your partner’s strengths, and to be vocal about your own inner-workings when he/she does something to upset you.
5. Everything changes: You may be thinking that because you have lived together for a year or two already that you know what married life is about. I assure you, it is not the case. For better or for worse, when you sign the contract to be with another person for the rest of your days, there is an inevitable internal shift within the individual and within the relationship. I wish I could put it into words, but it’s just not possible. You must experience this change in order to know what it is. Do not be afraid. Just know that it happens.
That said, understand that all of these ‘things to know’ are great to keep in mind, but you won’t fully grasp their meaning until you are in the thick of it. That’s just the way it is. My hope is that if you are on the path to marriage, you will conceptualize these ideas and store them for later use. So when these issues arise, you’ll recall that you’ve read about it, it’s completely normal, and go from there.
Wishing you peace in all of your relationships.
Featured art: Anima Animus by Toni Carmine Salerno
By Terence Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained (and training) actor and singer living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.