So many people I‘ve spoken to react negatively to the idea that a relationship or marriage is “work”. Yet the people who are in a long-term relationship are the most consistent in saying that it’s not always easy. It’s not necessarily like a wine that improves with age. It may go through a weird period that just one day is over. Or you may experience a tough time that makes the relationship better once you work it out. It’s a dynamic. You wouldn’t expect to get a job and then just stop working at it after the contract was signed. You wouldn’t just show up and expect a promotion and positive feedback. Perhaps we should call it relationship development (a la career or leadership development).
These self-reported happily married women say to expect some highs and lows…and expect to be annoyed. But that doesn’t mean they want to throw in the towel. They accept the good and the bad. Maybe it’s roll all how you roll with it…and finding the right person to roll with.
The first big fight after getting married or moving in is the worst…but you realize you can’t just walk out the door and go home…
You get through your first fight, you prove it and then you move on. We have been together for so long but we definitely still argue. But when we first got married I thought would I really go out and find someone who has all of these characteristics that I really love minus this one thing that I find so irritating. You know what, I’ll put up with the thing that I find irritating. If we bicker about it, I know he’s not walking out the door. And he knows I’m not walking out the door. It’s the recognition that you can argue with somebody. That’s normal. Nobody always gets them all. Nobody is always happy.” – 40-something, married, mom, high school teacher, PhD, Los Angeles, CA
Don’t expect to resolve every issue…
You might have unresolved issues being married and that’s okay. It’s just an unresolved issue that you might never come together on. You might always be apart on certain things but it doesn’t mean that all aspects of your marriage are like that.” – 45, married, mom of 3, Cleveland, OH
Whatever drives you crazy will make you insane after you are married. The bad gets worse. The good gets really good too but the bad gets like I am going to throw you threw that wall.” – 43, wife, mother of 2, works part-time in marketing, Stamford, CT
You can love imperfect…
Your husband [or partner] is not perfect. He is a person and has flaws. The moment you accept that you will be happier in your marriage. You will find out new things about your husband throughout your marriage (and he will find out things you aren’t perfect either). The moment you find out he’s not perfect it seems like the end. I thought he was my perfect soul mate but then I learned to realize he’s not perfect and still love him.” – 46, mom, grandmother, divorced / remarried for 21 years, optician, Sierra Vista, AZ
Even good guys don’t clean up. I may sound mushy, gushy but my husband is a good guy. I feel guilty when I am out with people and they aren’t happy and they complain about their husband. I just can’t chime in and say, “Yeah he’s such an jerk”. Am I supposed to feel bad because he isn’t a jerk? I mean sometimes he drives me crazy because he can’t clean up. But you know, he didn’t clean up 20 years ago why would I think he is going to start cleaning now?” – 44, happily married for 23 years, mother of 4, teacher, Cleveland, OH
No one’s “work” is the same as anyone else’s…you have to work it out for yourself, don’t compare….
Almost everyone says it is hard work, but there is no one solution to make it easy. The hardship is not the same for everyone. But you know it’s worth it when the person you have been with a long time is excited to see you. My husband and I were a mess and we probably should have never gotten married. But there was something good he brought out in me and that I brought out in him. It’s not easy and we struggle with our differences. We are very different people and don’t even resemble who we were when we met. But at the end of the day we want to see each other…that’s worth it.” – 45, married, mom of 3 (one set of twins), Cleveland, OH
Sometimes there isn’t a rational reason, but you get over it eventually….
There are days, even months, that your husband will annoy you. I am the first to say that my husband is a great guy, but there are days and months that I think I am going to kill him even though I know he is an honest, upstanding great guy. But then some days, he eats dinner and I’m like “could you stop doing that?” He says, “What? Chewing?” I know it’s just my problem because he is eating dinner the same way he eats dinner every day.” – 40, 2nd marriage, 2 children, Darien, CT