by Alissa Holm
The experience of marrying another person is likely the biggest transition a person will ever make in their life. Each person goes into a marriage with their own set of values, beliefs, traditions, experiences, and testimony, and is expected to join with another to create a united eternal unit. While this experience may sound blissful from the outside, often this “clashing of minds” isn’t quite so easy from the inside.
Before I write any further, I should probably explain that I am not married, nor do I claim to know much about the subject. But in my associations and conversations with the married couples that I do know, I often hear them sticking in their two cents here and there about what they wish they would have known before they got married. Each of them has developed advice based on their experiences that they want to impart to us “unmarrieds” to help in our relationships and future marriages. And I’ll be the first to admit—I love hearing their tips so that I can better know what to expect once I reach that phase too.
I have polled my close family, friends, and coworkers to come up with a list of ideas and experiences LDS women say they wish they would have know prior to their own weddings and marriages. No matter your relationship status, try reading through at least a few of these. You might be surprised at what you can learn!
- Surprises are inevitable. “No matter how well you think you may know your future spouse, you’re bound to find out something new the first day you’re married,” says my co-worker Sarah.
- Recognize that differences will emerge. “I wish I would have known that when two people get married, they bring two entirely different cultures into one house,” says my friend Kaitlyn. It’s important to understand that while your spouse may cook rice differently, clean the bathroom differently, or do the dishes differently, it doesn’t mean that their way is wrong. Be willing to compromise on these things!
- “Any traits, positive or negative, you see in your future spouse will be amplified as soon as you’re married,” says my sister, Lara. The old saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin rings true—“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-closed afterward.”
- Take some time for yourselves before you have kids. While this is a topic that is personal to all couples, most of the people I talked with expressed the importance of taking the necessary time before having children to enjoy each other’s company, get to know each other, and travel. Once you have kids, your lives will never be the same.
Your Married Relationship
- You don’t have to be brutally honest with each other all the time. “Sometimes, things are better left unsaid if they will hurt your spouse,” my sister, Lara, tells me.
- Fall in love with your spouse on this inside as well as the outside. We all age and change physically over time, usually for the worse. This bit of advice comes from my sister as well, who has been married for 11 years—enough time for a few new wrinkles and grey hairs to appear. Yet, I still look at the two of them and can see that they are just as in love now as they were 11 years ago.
- Put his needs in front of yours. “When you are single the only person you really need to worry about and take care of is yourself—making yourself the best possible,” says my friend Jani. “But when you’re married, you have to cook, clean, budget, earn money, etc., with someone else.” She explains that this works well if you have a Christlike attitude, but if you don’t, Satan will try to find his way in and change your attitude to one of selfishness.
- Remember, he can’t read your mind. If you have something on your mind, just tell him, don’t bother dropping hints. Communication is key!
Your New Family
- “Kill your in-laws and new family with love,” says my friend Kaitlyn. She also recommends not complaining to your spouse about their family—these are the people, other than you, that they love the most. “Be kind and love, love, love,” she says. “Chances are, you’ll end up falling in love with them as well.”
- Remember, you marry the family too. “As much as you want to think that you two get to run away and live happily ever after by yourselves, that is not true,” says my friend Jani. “He will want to spend time with his family (which is a good thing), and you will want to spend time with yours.” And remember to be yourself—don’t try to be someone else just to impress them.
- Don’t keep score. “If you spend time with his family one year, don’t think that it’s your house for Christmas the next year. If you see one family every week and the other once a year, it doesn’t matter because everyone wins—it’s not a competition,” says Jani.
So there you have it: a few basic tidbits of advice from married couples of all ages.
Whether you’re single, engaged, newly married, or have been married for several years, hopefully you can benefit from or at least relate to these points.
Have any advice of your own? Feel free to comment below—we’d love to hear from you!