#ValentinesDay I have been married for over two years now. While some might say I must still be in the honeymoon stage, it is incredible how much I have learned about myself and my husband in these years. Sure, there have been parts I enjoyed, but mostly, the parts that made the difference in my life are the parts that I never saw coming.

I never did grow up with a primary mother figure, mostly, I was raised by a single father. My dad never went into the nitty gritty of what marriage was or what to expect. Granted, his point of view might the vastly different from that of a woman, but it might have offered some insight. When I told him I was engaged, he only had one question for me.

“Do you love him,” he asked after taking a moment to adjust the fact that his favourite daughter (I choose to believe this) will be leaving home soon. That was basically all the marriage-related sit-down I had with him.

Then came the months of planning and excitement, and finally, I was married. And boy, did my world change.

Here are six truths about marriage I wished someone shared with me.

1. You are never alone

Sure, one reason for getting married is companionship. You get married to avoid being alone, but then, did you ever stop to think that this means you are NEVERalone? I didn’t. Over time, during my single days, I learned to be comfortable with my own company, in fact, I craved the times I spent with just me, myself and I. I did whatever I wanted and I had no qualms spending hours with just my thoughts. Then, I got married. He was every-freaking-where. He was there when I went to bed, he was there when I woke. He was there when I try to read a novel, he was there when I exercised. He was there when I dealt with stomach flu and he was there when all I wanted was to enjoy my own dance party. He was everywhere. That really took a lot of getting used to. And the thing is, he will not be there quietly. No! He had questions, and comments, and suggestions, and opinion… DAMN! When I made the commitment to share my life with someone, I guess I never expected that this actually meant sharing all aspects of my life with someone.

2. You have to explicitly ask for what you need

Husband was extremely terrible at gift-giving. I could set him lose in a store filled with all the jewelry and all the flowers in the world and he will still somehow buy a pen, wrap it, and present it to me for Valentines’s Day. He got it wrong at birthdays and any other time he chose to buy me something, just because. While we were together, I mostly faked a smile, accepted my presents gracefully and appreciatively. Then I had a thought, will I continue accepting gifts with a fake smile the rest of my married life? So, as this past Valentines was coming around, I decided to specifically ask for what I wanted, and guess what, I got it. Evidently, he was relieved that he did not have to spend weeks trying to figure out what I wanted. So, sure, I might never receive amazing surprise presents, but I do know that I will, at least, like what I get. Men are not mind-readers, and it can be a lot pressure to somehow expect him to automatically know what you want and have him run around trying to figure it out when you already have the answer.

3. Your wedding night comes with something special

It took me eight months to plan my wedding. Eight months of people all up in my business, asking me what dress, shoes, venue, cake, food, and so on, I wanted for the big day. There were people everywhere and there was so much to do. We had to make a lot of decisions and my mind was always crowded. This all culminated in one big day. 600 guests. Me in a wedding dress. Me making vows. The day went by in a haze, but the wedding night was when I completely realised the enormity of what I had just done.

I was completely alone with him in a room. No more people, no more choices, as I had just made the biggest choice in my life and it was staring right at me. I have no words to describe that feeling. You simply just realise that everything that is important to you – career, motherhood, lifestyle, and so on, have now been tied to this one person. This one choice. I might never be able to remember how exactly my wedding day went, but my wedding night? I will never forget the feeling.

The world is gone and it is just you and him. There is something scary yet exciting about that fact.

4. Love looks different from what you thought

About a year or so into my marriage, I started to wonder if my man still felt the same way about me as he did when we first got married. After many little fights and a couple of big ones, you start to wonder. We have, at this time, stopped doing the little things we used to. We stopped sending cute messages, date nights are few and far between, we stopped complimenting each other as much and so on. One night, while waiting for him to return from one of his outings with his buddies, I resolved to bring the matter up with him. I spent a couple of hours trying to pinpoint the last time he did something that proved he still cared. Something that proved he thought about me when we were apart and missed me. When he returned, he passed over a plate of pepper-soup he had packaged from his outing with the guys. I never brought up the love issue that night.

You see, what I just realised was that he made sure to bring me something whenever he hung out with his friends or family without me. Every single time, he had them pack something up and casually hand it to me when he came in. If I was asleep, he stored it in the freezer, and I woke up the next day excited about what he must have brought. So, sure, I wasn’t getting flowers daily, but I had no doubt that he does think of me when he is out and bringing me food, whether or not I ask, is his way of showing he cared.

The thing is, we all show love differently, and when we get so used to a person, it is easy to forget or not notice their efforts. Sometimes, it pays to take that step back and open your eyes.

5. You must never compare

As humans, sometimes we cannot help but compare ourselves to others. We want to see how we stack up and use others to measure our choices and status in life. I learned fast that there is no place for that in a marriage. One thing, I think, that made my struggle more difficult was the fact that I had this habit of comparing our marriage to that of others. I had to take that peek out the curtain of my marital life to see what others were doing and how they were living. I wondered how I was supposed to the primary breadwinner when I do not know of other women who did the same thing. I made this mistake in some other aspects of my marriage too, which turned out to be the worst thing for us.

I had to realise that you can only do the best thing for you as a couple. As long as your choices work for you as a family, it matters not how others make their marriages work. There are different kinds of marriages, and everyone chooses what works for them. Modelling yours after someone else’s will only end in disaster.

6. You have to pick your battles

There came a time, about six or so months into my marriage, that I wondered if there was something wrong with us because we argued so much. We fought over so many things, my mind was spinning. I had this ridiculous belief that since we were married, I had to discuss any and everything that hurt my little heart. Be it his habit of assuming all dirty laundry is temporary rag and using them to wipe down tables, or him watching TV while I was trying to have a conversation with him. We fought about it all. I mean, what other choice was there? Well, I learned that I actually had a choice; let it go.

Whenever I got pissed, I started making a scale of one to ten in my head. One being, I honestly believe this will not bother me in 30 seconds to ‘I have a knife under my pillow and I will stab him to death if we do not rectify this.’ Since I have only felt anger level 10 a handful of times, we fight a lot less these days. Mostly, I just sigh, shake my head, pick a book and read until I get over whatever annoying thing the man just did.

It is insane to try and fight every battle when there are big battles on the way that will need all your ounce of energy and focus. Be honest with yourself, do you truly believe this will keep you up at nights? Or are you just a little miffed because you did not get your way? Make a decision and save all the drama for the fights that are actually worth it.

Hopefully, I have given single ladies a thing or two to think about. For the married ones, what advice did you wish you had been given before marriage that would have made things a lot less difficult? Share, I would love to know if I missed a few.

Photo Credit: Villiers Steyn | Dreamstime.com