Reddit user u/Ok_Reality-77 posed the question: "What did you realize after getting married?" and the thread quickly filled with the positive and negative lessons people learned after saying "I do." Here's what people shared:
1."A bad marriage does way more harm than being alone."
2."They say you marry their family. You absolutely do. One day I was a girlfriend, the next I was holding my husband's grandmother's hand while she died. I was dragged into family fights — the likes of which I'd never seen. I've been loved, weaponized, and defended like I could've never fathomed. I laughed at people who said they married the whole family. I was so wrong."
3."Marriage is a constant exercise in forgiveness. Be sure you love them, like for real. Lucky for me, I do."
4."I run out of things to talk about, and that's okay. No need to keep talking."
"I love when we are just coexisting in the living room! It’s a comfortable silence, and I don’t feel the need to make conversation."
5."A shocking discovery for me: I thought marriage was the key to ultimate happiness. It certainly is not. There is more to life than having a partner and being a mom. All those things are icing on the cake, but not the cake itself."
6."The most fulfilling time of my life was when I was broke and single. I was able to make risky decisions without consulting my spouse because of how it would affect them. Things that I see as failures to learn from, my spouse sometimes sees as embarrassments to hide from. Also, a lot of things I would put into a passion or hobby goes toward spending time with my spouse and keeping them happy. My successes are now our successes. I will never be able to attend Coachella and get backstage for free ever again."
7."True partnership means conflict is inevitable, but productive. Part of me knew we'd disagree, but it took some time to know the best way to work through it. It's not about being a doormat, but it's not being right every time."
"It took us a while to figure out how to disagree. She finally told me to leave her alone when she was mad. I'm a fixer, so I was pushing to fix whatever was wrong. After she told me what to do, I gave her space, then we would work out whatever issue later, even if it was an hour or a day later. Also, since she knew I was a fixer, she would let me know quickly so I wouldn't be worried. Married 30 years. We hardly ever argue now."
8."I don’t get upset if I don’t make the cut for someone else’s wedding. It's expensive."
9."That you're going to discover a new level of stupidity, and weirdness, in your partner. My husband licks the condensation off the mirror after he showers."
10."That marriage really is just a piece of paper, but if that piece of paper is making you scared, then you’re not at all ready for a relationship. The relationship should have the same level of commitment before you’re married and after the paper is signed. If there’s a difference, your relationship probably won’t last. I don’t get people who are afraid of commitment like marriage, but then have six kids and own a home like it’s not a giant commitment itself. If the piece of paper scares you, you have healing to do."
11."Marriage isn’t just about the person who you want to have fun with. It’s also about the person you want to spend $10,000 on a new furnace with, go to a funeral with, or get a flat tire with. Your spouse should make your life easier, especially during the hard times."
12."People can be really, REALLY good at hiding who they truly are."
"I married a smart, kind, independent, thoughtful person, and almost overnight, I ended up with a controlling, emotional wreck who weaponized their incompetence. Sometimes people are just waiting to take the mask off."
13."First marriage lesson learned: If you don't really like hanging out with the person alone and without electronics when you're dating, getting married won't make you like hanging out with them more. Second marriage: If you like the person you are dating and are going to be together either way, the legal benefits of being married are massive."
14."The attraction does not fade just because you see them every day. Now I get what people mean by 'I think she looks more beautiful every passing year' because I’ve been married for a few years, and every year, my attraction toward my husband just grows. I always secretly check him out and think he’s the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. You often hear about men getting bored with their wives, but knowing I feel the opposite toward my husband made me realize when you’re in love, that person will always be attractive to you no matter how long you’ve been married."
15."I thought I had myself all figured out. I thought I worked my childhood demons out in years of therapy and was a 'normal,' adjusted adult. But, being in a marriage helped to tease out every flaw I had. When ish hit the fan, we had to figure things out like adults and do some serious introspection if we wanted to make it work. I’m not knocking divorce for others, it’s just something that neither of us believed in for ourselves. We waited long enough for marriage that we wanted to be sure we were both in it for the long haul no matter what. We’re both also very stubborn, so when things get rough, we’ve had to learn to suck it up, apologize, and be better people. Marriage has helped me to become humble and put my spouse first. It’s a great feeling knowing you're a team doing it together. And, then kids come, and you’re screwed. 😜"
16."In my case, big mistake! Marriage requires cooperation, teamwork, compromise, and selfless decisions. Neither I nor my ex-husband were ready for any of those things."
17."You don't always like the people you love."
18."Good communication is vital to a relationship. The ability to have a calm, rational conversation over any topic is something to strive for. Having the trust that the two of you can talk about anything in a safe environment is key. You must have the ability to be honest and open with each other."
19."People change. It’s not necessarily that they’ve been hiding, they’re just not the person they were."
"I personally believe that the pressure of marriage/cohabiting can often cause people to change. The one I hear most often is men who complain their women turned into a 'nagging bore' after they married. The men voicing these complaints are often ones who take no share of the household responsibilities, yet they can't understand why their women became so stressed out after marriage."
"Not all partners are transparent in that change, and I think that’s what creates problems. You’ll always change in some way, but couples that stay together are able to do so because they change together, and do so while constantly communicating. Some partners simply don’t do that."
20."I realized that it’s worse to feel alone in a marriage than it is to actually be alone, so I left."
21."Marriage is not for me. Admittedly, I got married too young, and he was a good amount older than me. It was doomed to fail. I was undiagnosed with some mental health issues and am not without fault, but he was a man-child and hid a decent chunk of debt from me until days before the wedding, and then kept going further into debt after it. I didn't want to be dragged into paying off his debt for the rest of my life. With age, I've realized that I don't really want to be coupled up at all. I have a child now, and I don't really want to change the dynamic we have. I don't want to be answerable to someone else in how I live, how I spend, how I used my downtime, or anything like that. I am happy being single, and I can't see that changing anytime soon."
22."Something I was told before getting married is to ask yourself: 'Do I want to be loved by this person for the rest of my life, or do I want to love this person for the rest of my life?' You both should have the mindset of wanting to love each other. Choose to love one another, even when you don't have the warm, fuzzy feelings. Love is action. Five years in, and I want to love him in the fullest way possible every day. That means making dinner for him at the end of a long day. For him, that means working long days in construction to provide for our family so that I can be a stay-at-home mom. It means back rubs. It means helping me shower while in preterm labor with our first child. It means doing the laundry so that he can have his favorite shorts when he gets home. It means reading to each other. It means loving each other during depression, illness, recovery from addiction, everyday faults, and catastrophic failures."
"Ask yourself that question. If your spouse is ever incapable of showing love to you, would you still choose to show love to them? If not, don't get married. Honestly, just end the relationship there. If yes, dive in head-first and make that choice."
23."A marriage only works as a marriage if both people put the other person's needs first. If one person doesn't do this, you get resentment. If both don't do this, your relationship is transactional, which also makes it pointless the second you can't hold up your end for any reason. People with transactional relationships are always so surprised when they get sick and the other person abandons them. Marriage isn't about you. If it is, don't get married because it's temporary. I learned to put my wife first, and we went through everything from being poor, to having different stances on important issues, but we still love each other. She is more important to me, and I'm more important to her, so we'll be together in another 10 years just like we have been for the last 10."
24."I realized that a relationship isn’t set in stone. It’s an evolving thing. Literally every day is a chance to shape it as you want."
25."If you truly want to know what someone is about — good and bad — marry them. They’ll only show you their true self after marriage."
26."That whole 'don’t get married young' bit of advice has a lot of truth to it. Committing yourself to someone for the rest of your life before you’ve even had time to truly know who you are and what it means to love someone can lead to feeling very lost. Even if you are in love, happy, safe, and all the other great things involved in finding a partner, just sit in that. There’s no rush to get married."
27."The way a lot of people talk about marriage just reflects how their relationship is. You hear people say marriage is hard, it takes so much work, etc. If you find the right person, it’s not hard. It comes naturally. Being an adult, parent, and having responsibilities is hard. The marriage shouldn’t be hard. I went into marriage thinking I was going to have to meditate and do research to keep it all good because of how 'hard' all these boomers and Gen X'ers were saying it was. They were wrong, and I realized they’re probably just unhappy."
28.Finally: "Marriage isn't required for happiness. I wish I had considered my options. Maybe I would've chosen it anyway, but getting married in your 20s and spending forever together is a looooong time. I wish I had never changed my name because screw the patriarchy. Just don't rush it. I have a wonderful partner, and we're great co-parents, but I often feel like a roommate. Maybe that's just having three kids and getting comfortable. But, I miss having a boyfriend who was really into me."
Are there any important lessons you learned after getting married? Share in the comments below!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.