Life after marriage: the brutal truth? You never see that in movies.
#1 Your marriage will have one disagreement that you won’t be able to resolve–and you’ll never agree about what it is! Identify and accept it as early as possible. Help your partner accept it too.
#2 Changing yourself is the only thing you can do. I know it’s straightforward, but it’s also hard. Keep that in mind when struggling with #1.
#3 Keep your stoicism about your own (no doubt herculean) efforts. You gotta do it, don’t expect praise. Sadly, I’m talking about housework here. Reframe the job as maintenance and improvement you do for yourself. You don’t have to expect anyone else to notice what you do (corollary 3b). Basically, you’re doing this for yourself!
#4 You both chose each other. The only family member you will ever choose is your spouse. You will evolve together in a way that no other intimate relationship can because it is self-directed. The excitement of establishing new traditions and new family benchmarks can be exhilarating. There is also a sense of frustration and fear: no roadmap, and the threat of de-selection, however abstract.
#5 Trade-offs are inevitable in life, including in your relationship and with your partner. The qualities that frustrate you are closely related to the ones you like.
#6 Marriage is about more than just social fabric. The diamond rock, the social approval, the fact that you’re a couple… all those things matter, but they can’t compare to the connection you share.
#7 Outsiders are likely to misjudge your relationship based on these secondary characteristics (#6). Just ignore them.
#8 You can’t have a good relationship if you don’t face adversity. It’s not worth mentioning what can go wrong in a bad relationship. But I’ve seen plenty of on-the-fence relationships grow after challenges.
#9 Be responsible for your own happiness. Keep your partner in the loop about your dreams, goals, and frustrations, but don’t make him/her responsible for them. Likewise, help him/her to realize their own dreams.
#10 The moment you first connected should never be forgotten. Even if it’s been years, the way you felt about each other then and in the weeks and months after will remind you that you can still connect.