Married life is definitely not like the movies
-Jessica Taylor, BettyConfidential.com
After being married for about a year, it's funny to reflect on what the experience has been like. It's flown by, and the majority of the time, it's been pretty fantastic. Although I'll admit there have been a few moments when smoke actually came out of my ears in frustration. Nevertheless, through all the ups and downs, I've learned a lot about myself, my husband and about real love.
Real love is just that--real. It's not what you seen in movies or read about in magazines, and it's not achieved overnight. It's something that you create and work for every single day. Because like anything else in life, when it comes to marriage, what you put into it is what you get out of it.
Even though my husband and I dated for years and even lived together before we tied the knot, there were some big surprises and challenges brought about by holy matrimony. Here's a rundown of some of my biggest lessons and surprises as a newlywed:
Real life is not a romantic comedy
I don't look like Reese Witherspoon, and I also don't have as much romance in my life as she does in her films. The drama and romantic intensity we see in movies doesn't translate to real life (nor do the salaries). When it comes to your own love life, romance is definitely important, but it doesn't always need to be a grand gesture. I'm fairly confident I won't wake up to breakfast in bed and a dozen roses tomorrow morning, but when my husband takes time to do things like making dinner, washing my car or giving me a card out of the blue, I know it's our own version of a big screen romance.
Chances are you'll start to combine finances after the wedding, to cover the important things in life, like food, water, electricity and NetFlix. When I got married, I was given a ton of advice on how to share and save money, but when it came down to it, my husband and I had to sit down and work together to figure out the best method for us. And it's a constant work in progress. We might not always agree on how to spend (spa day verses big screen TV), but communicating and planning together eliminates the guesswork and makes a challenging process much easier.
For better or for worse
There's a reason this phrase has been in wedding vows since the beginning of time. I'm not saying there aren't perfect couples out there, but I've just never met them. As a newlywed, I learned that despite a loving and dedicated relationship, you undoubtedly will experience moments and days where you don't feel in sync with your partner. Sometimes it's after an argument, and other times it might be for no reason at all. For me, this was a hard thing to accept. I'm a perfectionist, so when things feel off, I want to fix them immediately. The truth is, sometimes it just takes time to slow down, reflect and reconnect.
Cleanliness is next to sanity
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents had a chore chart, where you got gold stars and an allowance for cleaning your room and walking the dog? Those were the days. As an adult, chores are required without pay, and can be challenging to split up. I know some couples that set aside time to clean together, some that share tasks equally and others that shell out money for a housekeeper. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, but setting expectations can be the key to avoiding frustration. I'm perfectly happy vacuuming (it's an ab exercise, right?) but despise taking out the trash. Based on our preferences and schedules, my husband and I have found ways to divide and conquer that leaves us both happy.
"So, are you thinking about kids?"
This is one of my favorite post--wedding experiences, for purely comical reasons. Not only is it an odd assumption that one must immediately reproduce after marriage, but it's a totally personal question! I never expected that I would be asked this so incessantly in the months after our wedding, from all sides--family, friends, coworkers and even neighbors. My recommendation is to develop a snappy response for these scenarios, or, just ask an equally personal question right back.
You've probably noticed a common theme among all of these experiences that relates directly to communication. It's cliché but true. Communication is a critical part of happy relationships. I don't think this means having philosophical discussions about every little thing, but it's certainly the key to expressing yourself and understanding your partner.
I'm not a marriage expert; I'm a beginner and I'm still learning to navigate the tough spots. I hope that in another year, I'll be able to look back and reflect on more things I've learned and experienced all while living my own version of happily ever after.
Jessica Taylor is a communications professional in Phoenix, Ariz. Read more of her writing on her blog.