5 Top Secret Things You Need To Know About Marriage

"wedding photo of elle and kyle by max wanger" Wedded bliss. Whoever came up with that term had quite the sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my husband. I wouldn’t trade him for anything ever. And I most certainly love being married to him.  He means the world to me…but it isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. There are secrets, you see.  Secrets about marriage that no one tells you when you tie the knot…and they really really should.  But fear not!  I’m here to give you leg up and save some of your sanity.  No need to thank me.  It’s what I’m here for.   So step right up and learn…

5 Top Secret Things You Need to Know about Marriage:

Witness the Amazing Disappearing Friends!

It’s true.  They will vanish and they will do it fast.  This was both completely expected and completely surprising. Surprising because a few of them were my best friends of over 10 years.  Expected because, having gone through other major life changes (like cancer…Hello!), I knew that people come and go from your life. That’s just the way it is.  And the bigger the life change the more people will pull a Houdini. Sad (and weird) but true.  Whether it’s due to bitterness, jealousy, unrequited love or an unwillingness to accept change only they know for sure.  We opted to not worry about it and instead focused our attention on the awesome friends that were (and are) supportive and welcoming of our new life together.  We’ve never looked back and we couldn’t be happier.

Test Your Strength with Lots of Hard Work!

No matter how much you love each other, marriage takes work. You’re blending your lives and that takes patience as you make tweaks and adjustments.  As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this will cause some disagreements.  Here’s a shocking fact about marriage:  Disagreeing is normal. Every single married couple on the planet argues.  This is a fact. If anyone claims otherwise, then they are either:

  • space aliens
  • the next step in human evolution
  • lying and/or delusional

You both:

  • have good days and bad days
  • succeed and fail
  • are flush and then broke

How is this different from when you were single?  Well, now it’s increased twofold. You no longer have just yourself to worry about.  There’s another person in the picture and this person is someone you love.  You have to forgive and forget.  You have to learn to SHARE your life with someone else and make it work.  And if you both have strong personalities, then hold on tight…it’s gonna get bumpy (not that I speak from personal experience…*ahem ahem*…heaven’s no).

Don’t worry. If you both saw eye to eye on everything you would be bored out of your mind!  I can’t even begin to imagine how much it would suck to spend my life with someone who didn’t have a single differing viewpoint from my own.  Disagreeing is not the end of the world.  Here are two helpful rules for “healthy” arguing:

  1. No hitting below the belt. Name calling, screaming and hatefulness are counter-productive.   Fight fair!
  2. Check your ego at the door. It’s really easy to let your ego come into play…to make it about being right or wrong, win or lose.  Do you know what’s more important than winning an argument?  L-O-V-E. Remember you love each other.  Are you continuing the argument because you just don’t want to back down?  If so, then that’s your ego talking.

The good news is that, just like any new skill, practice makes perfect.  Just remember that your marriage is always changing, growing and evolving, just like the two of you are.  Give it love and space to breath. Acknowledge the difficulties and work on them.  It’s ok.

Observe the Magic of Compromise!

Oh yeah…it’s a biggie.  Yeah you know that you will have to compromise, but do you know just how much compromising you will do?  A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. You will compromise on where you eat, what you watch, where you go, how much money you spend, how much you save, where you vacation, how many cats you have…you get the idea.  It’s never ending.  You might as well cozy up to it because, as you will find, it’s one of the single most useful tools in your marriage.  Compromise:  learn it, live it, love it.

Be Astounded as You Learn that Marriage is not Like Dating!

This one is very abstract and I’m not even sure how to explain it, but marriage is…well…it’s just different than dating.  Yes, there are the obvious differences such as life-long commitment and the like,  but there is also a very distinct difference in feeling.  My honey and I discussed this at great length for the first few months of our marriage.  We couldn’t put our finger on WHAT was different, but something most certainly was.  We just felt different…we felt…joined.  You will probably hear some people say there’s no difference between the two; that nothing changes.  I have to wonder if those people really paid attention to their vows…


Be Amazed as Your Sex Life Becomes a Matter of Public Debate!

“So have you started “trying” yet?”  EXCUSE ME? Yeah.  You heard them right.  Someone just asked you if you’re having sex and whether or not you’re using birth control. Last time I checked this was no one’s business expect yours and your partner’s.  I know, I know…they don’t mean anything by it, yadda-yadda-yadda.  I don’t recall any part of the wedding ceremony where we agreed to discuss our sex lives with our family, friends or the public at large.  To those of you on the receiving end of this prying question I suggest you prepare and decide how you are most comfortable handling it.  Who knows!  Maybe it won’t bother you at all.  As for me, I despise it.  I find it rude and intrusive.  I have a very hard time not responding with gruesome (albeit fictional) details in an attempt to embarrass them and discourage further inquiries.  To those of you doing the questioning I suggest you stop. It’s none of your business.  For all you know they’re infertile, which is also none of your business.  If people want to share such details with you, they will.  There’s really no need to ask.  (And on a similar but completely unrelated subject:  If I ever decide to get pregnant and you put your hand on my stomach without my permission you will NOT be getting that hand back.  You have been warned. )

So there you have it.  Those are the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about marriage so far and I’m sure I’ll discover more as I go along.  If you have any revelations you’d like to share with the rest of the class, feel free to add to them in the comments.  I know I’d love to hear them!


Kisses & Chaos,

Alli Woods Frederick


image credits: Elle & Kyle – Max Wanger *  Vanishing Man – Joe Santos *  Untitled – authaus *   Via Emily Ryan *  watercolor by Birds of Ashmae *

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  • Aimee Bunn

    I love it! 🙂 And you are completely right, dating and being married is VERY different. Disappearing friends suck. I got married at 17, and I barely talk to the people I went to school with. I’m lucky to have found friends here, some mutual ones of course, and others from work. I completely and utterly LOVE the “Please don’t ask me if I’m trying to get pregnant”. I just turned 21, and even though my husband has a kid from a previous marriage doesn’t mean that I’m going to rush into having a kid so that I can feel “complete”. I feel just fine being a step-mom, and a loving understanding wife. If one more family member asks me, “So when are you going to pop a few out?!”, I may just scream.. I have made my permanent answer be that I’m still in the “Kill it With Fire” -stage, and if I were placed in a room with a baby that was crying or acting obnoxious, spontaneous combustion may occur. I like kids.. maybe… But I don’t need to be asked. 🙂 Thanks Alli for another great post. 🙂 Need to see you soon!

  • Mic

    Pretty right on for the most part. Although the only thing that slowed my friends and I from hanging out so much was me not going to the bar every night. (what a bunch of drunks!) The unrequited love element is a certain kiss of doom anytime. A serious relationship just speeds the falling apart stage unless the 3rd party learns to let go.
    But we cant go to a family dinner without our plans for reproduction coming up.

  • All this is sooo true, and my wife is pregnant, but our friends are already telling us to have a another baby right after. Bad advice totally.

  • I love the last part about the intrusive questions about children. I’m not married but I’m really weirded out by the idea of someone asking about that too! I am a very private person and I think I would also have a hard time knowing how to reply to that without losing friends. HA! Great post.

    • Good to know it’s not just me. I just don’t get it!

  • Carly

    I am very single and many of my friends have gotten married. I wanted to stay friends with them but honestly, we were going in very different life directions. How many times do I ask my married friend if she wants to accompany me to street fairs, out for dinner, or to parties and events only to hear “No, I’m going to spend the day with [my husband]” ? Or, they do all of their social activities with other married couples. Someone I have been friends with since the 6th grade asked me if wedding bells were in my near future with the implication that she only wants to spend time with me when I am married, too. It is very much a two-way street and it isn’t just “due to bitterness, jealousy, unrequited love or an unwillingness to accept change.”

    • That really sucks that you’ve had that experience. And while, I feel, it is a separate phenomena from the one in the article, it is certainly one that should be addressed. Unfortunately when some people enter into relationships their heads promptly go up their significant other’s backside which is most certainly a detriment to maintaining friendships. It seems a shame to let such a long friendship fall by the wayside. I hope your friends will recover from their anal-cranial inversion and will find their ways back to being good friends who, at the very least, meet you for coffee and good conversation every now and then.

      In my instance, however, I am referring to a quite a different beast. In mine and others’ experiences there are friends who simply vanish…almost quite literally. My husband and I have several male and female friends who, upon being told of the engagement, totally stopped returning phone calls and emails. They also did not respond to their wedding invitations. There was no two-way street involved and I know that I am not the only person who has experienced this. Why they decided to end our friendship only they know for sure. In one instance I was told that it was because he “always assumed we’d wind up together,” never mind the fact that we never dated. It was easier for him to have nothing to do with me than to be friends. So be it. I wish him well and I still think of him with fondness, but there is simply no point in investing anymore energy into that friendship when he has made his position perfectly clear. While most friends stuck around and were supportive and awesome (thank god!) I still wish someone had given me a heads up that this vanishing act was likely to happen.

      And I think there will be an article in the future about ways to maintain friendships and finding balance in relationships. You have made a valid point and it’s one that bears repeating.