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There’s something so exciting and magical about weddings. The excitement, the love, the possibilities… it’s beautiful. When we were planning our wedding we tried hard to focus on planning our marriage just as much, if not more, than the wedding itself.
Regardless of how much we prepared and planned, there are still somethings you can’t really know until you’re living it. We thought that after being married before, we would know what was coming our way. But there are still things we learned and are still learning each day.
These were some of the things I wish I knew or at least gave more consideration to:
1 – Things Don’t Have To Change
Before I was married (especially the first time) I had so many people telling me that everything would change after I was married. So much so, I believe we made the changes happen because we expected them to.
The second time I was married we realised that things didn’t actually have to change. It was up to us what changed and what we wanted to keep the same. At the end of the day, it was still our relationship that we were able to create in any way that suited us.
2 – But They Might
If I’m honest, I didn’t think there would be much of a change for us. We were already living together, already had our son, had built our life together, what more would marriage add?
What I didn’t expect was the subtle changes in the way I felt towards myself as a wife.
I felt more secure in our relationship, I felt like I had a greater responsibility to care for my husband and I felt like we were more driven to planning our future together. He explained he felt the same way and that it had taken him by surprise too.
These things didn’t have to change, but they did, and they were changes we embraced and enjoyed.
3 – Your Marriage Comes First
For as long as I can remember I have heard of mothers (in particular) needing to put their kids first. I’m not sure if it’s something my mother said, or if it’s just things I read or heard in passing, but I distinctly remember knowing that when you became a mother, your children come first.
But I no longer believe that’s true.
It’s not that your kids aren’t important, my kids are my world and they light up my day, even when they are frustrating as all get up. BUT, my husband comes first.
Actually, it’s more than that. I put my husband first, he puts me first, and together we ensure our children are happy, healthy and loved.
By taking care of each other and ensuring both of us have our needs met and are being the best people we can be, we can then in turn be the best parents we can be.
4 – Dating Isn’t The Exciting Phase, Marriage Is
There was a time after we were married when I felt like we’d done it all. We’d dated, we had our house, we had our kids, we were married… now what? I was sad that the dating phase was over, it was all exciting and the whole getting to know each other time is so much fun.
But when I realised I had to let that go, and focus my energy on my marriage here and now, the really exciting stuff started to happen.
I love that there is someone who completely understands me, he knows what I need when I’m frustrated or stressed and makes sure I get what I need, he brings me chocolate when I’ve had a rough day, and knows that a hug from him can fix just about any situation.
We have big goals in life and we now get to work towards them, together. There is so much more excitement in marriage than there was in the dating phase and it is the best!
5 – We Don’t Just Automatically Know How To Be Married
Before you’re married, or even in a relationship, you are this individual person with individual needs and living your own individual life. And then you are in a relationship and somehow, that individuality can be forgotten. You’re expected to function as part of a couple, and it’s kind of expected that you just know how to do that.
Then, you get married, and you’re expected to know how to be married too…
But it’s not always that easy.
While for some people, responding to another person’s needs and putting them first comes naturally, for others it takes a little work and conscious effort, and that’s okay! But, you need to be aware of your own understandings and sometimes limitations of how you function in a relationship and in a marriage.
I don’t believe we ever stop learning how to be married. All couples should go to marriage counselling at some point, before they think they need to, even if it is just to learn some extra communication skills or for a relationship ‘check-up’.
It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know how to do this’ in marriage, but it also means you have to make the effort to learn how to do it.
6 – Your Marriage Is Unique
While I like reading all kinds of things about marriage advice and I find listening to my parents and grandparents talk about marriage, I learned pretty quickly that our marriage is not the same as anyone else’s and no one else gets a say in what happens except for us.
While our parents may be well-meaning, and their advice (sometimes) has merit, their marriage is different to yours, they had different challenges, at a different time, and you are their child so their advice is always going to be a little bias.
Your marriage is completely unique, and if you do need a little help and advice, the best person to talk to first is each other, and then a counseller (as I said before, I believe all couples should go to marriage counselling but that’s another post for another day).
7 – You Get To Create YOUR Marriage
We’ve never been ones to stick to tradition. I proposed to my husband, we eloped for our wedding and we have always pushed the boundaries of ‘traditional marriage’ and made things work the way we wanted to work.
Two years after we were married we pushed those boundaries again and decided that instead of me being a stay at home mum (for anyone that knows me, this is NOT something I could do) we were going to job share our role as Paramedics, and my husband was going to stay home with the kids just as much as I was.
These kinds of decisions are the ones we make to create the marriage and life we want.
You don’t have to stick to any tradition or any rules for your marriage. Your marriage is YOUR marriage and you get to create the marriage and life you want to live. Challenge the traditions, talk about your dream life and create ways to make it happen for you now!
I’m sure if I had been told these things before I got married they still probably wouldn’t have sunk in until I lived them and realised how important they are.
But if you’re reading this and nodding along, then maybe I’m not the only one who didn’t understand the difference marriage would make in my life, and that by talking about these things, hopefully, we can change peoples understanding of marriage before they get married.