There are some things in life that are impossible to fully understand until or unless you have experienced them yourself. Having kids definitely falls into that category, but I would argue that marriage does, too.

I’ve lived with someone long term and I’ve been married, and for whatever reason, signing that legal document changes things somehow.

If you’ve never been married before, here are 15 things married folks think you should know.

15. Be best friends if you can.

Before I was married I thought the “I’m married to my best friend” was just another way couples said “I love you.” But it’s totally different.

If my wife and I weren’t married I’d still call her to watch football and hang out all the time. I guess I did do that for a few years, then the rest followed.

The other part is as a married person you meet more married people, and then you realize how so many couples aren’t best friends…sucks to see it, but so true.

14. Fools rush in.

Do not rush into marriage, and make sure you have multiple serious talks about everything (few examples: religion, family, friends, goals for near future, goals for future, plan for kids, lifestyle, housing, retirement.)

The reason I say multiple talks is because people grow or change the longer they are with each other.

13. It’s not going to “fix” you.

Getting married doesn’t mean that you’re never going to feel lonely again.

People still need friendships and other relationships outside of just with their spouse. They can’t take care of every emotional need you have. I’ve known many people who ignore those outside relationships when they get married and later regret it.

12. It’s a partnership.

  1. Talk about whether you want kids before things get serious.
  2. Finances are something you manage together. It isn’t something you cede to one spouse for whatever reason. I say this as someone who had to teach my dad how to use an ATM and the online banking site after my mom died.
  3. It’s your relationship. It’s something that belongs to you two. No one else.
  4. Adult up. Both partners need to take in the mental load of managing the house.

11. You won’t do everything together.

you still need to maintain the things that made you, you before marriage. My wife and I have very different tastes in a lot of things and we never pretend to like it for the sake of the other person but also will not actively discourage those tastes either.

I like hardcore and punk music. My wife likes bubblegum pop country. She thinks I listen to just noise and I think most of her stuff is shallow mass produced garbage but we agree to disagree and understand different flavors.

Our friends are into different activities and we understand sometimes you gotta go have fun with those other people in your life and have some you time.

10. Finances are sore spot.

Both parts of the couple should also know, at a minimum:

Where the money is

How to get to it

How much is there

I handle all our finances, but my wife has a list of all our accounts, complete with account numbers and usernames. She knows how to get into the password manager to log in to each of the accounts.

I also have a spreadsheet of every service set up with autopay and (roughly) how much is paid per month.

If I die, I want her to have as easy a time as possible figuring this stuff out.

9. You have to set your own rules.

only the couple sets the rules of what their marriage is

not your mother, not your friends, not tv…just you

that actually applies to all relationships

I watched this absolutely speed up the destruction of my sisters marriage. Her MIL had a ridiculous amount of control over things and her husband didn’t want to be in the middle so he would plug his ears and walk away. When my sister finally told her MIL that what she was doing was disrupting and causing problems in her (my sister) family, the MIL sat there dumbfounded and asked “why would any of this upset your brothers and sisters?”. She just could not grasp the fact that my sisters family was her husband and kids and rolled her eyes when she was told that.

Since her husband never stood up, and in some cases would actively back his mom because he didn’t want to upset her, it eventually drove them apart. Now they never talk unless they have to and the kids are all but estranged from their dad and grandparents.

8. There is work involved.

Once the butterflies go away it is your job to create butterfly moments.

7. It will probably make them worse.

Getting married WILL NOT help solve any issues in your relationship…

Neither will kids.

I would say having kids will damage your relationship. Not in a completely bad way, kids are a total blessing if you wanted them, but they will test and strain your relationship with your partner in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

6. Do non-romantic stuff together.

Have things you enjoy doing with your spouse that don’t involve sex. The most stable marriages are ones where you and your spouse could be friends if you weren’t married.

Goes for dating too, IMO.

5. You don’t actually know anything.

Being married 20 years, I’m guilty of it sometimes too, but being in a long term relationship like that just makes you an expert on your own relationship. Not on relationships in general.

We can sometimes forget that, just because it works well in our own life, doesn’t mean it will work for others.

When you’re a young couple, dozens of older couples are going to tell you what works for them. The best thing to do is understand that it’s coming from a place of caring, and some will be good advice, but you’ve got to just find what works for you.

4. You can learn a lot about a person.

Go on a road trip together. Travel together before marriage. Close quarters and tough situations will give you insights into who that other person is.

My husband and I have the exact same vacation style, and it’s super important! We’re “one activity a day” people, and it works out great.

By contrast, my parents are “do everything, everywhere, all the time” vacation people, and I hate vacationing with them and will actively avoid it however I can. It’s legitimately damaged our relationship.

Don’t marry someone who doesn’t vacation like you do. Don’t spend your vacations fighting over something neither of you can fix: simple incompatibility.

3. Liking and loving.

Liking your partner is just as important if not more than loving them.

I like my husband the most out of all the people I know. Even if I didn’t have romantic feelings for him, I’d want to be friends with him because he’s the coolest.

Like if I never knew him, and tomorrow I met an eighty year old man with his same personality, I would wanna hang out with that old man.

We’ve been together for more than a decade, and while the “butterflies in your stomach” feeling comes and goes, there’s always a baseline level of like that makes spending time with him worthwhile.

2. You have to be able to talk to each other.

Talk to your partner before you make decisions. I can’t even tell you how much shit I get from my single friends when I tell them I’ll “check with my husband” before agreeing to do something. Usually it’s just to make sure we don’t have something else going on that I forgot about, or maybe he wanted to do something and I haven’t brought it up. It’s not asking permission, it’s being conscientious of your partner.

It’s especially true if you have kids. No, I don’t ask my husband to “babysit”, but it would be pretty shitty for me to just say “oh hey, I’m going out tonight. Have fun with a couple toddlers by yourself and with no notice!” And he treats me with the same respect.

ETA: for all of those saying “it’s controlling” or anything along those lines: honestly, eff off.

Being considerate of your partner isn’t controlling or abusive. I’m not saying you have to check with them before you buy a candy bar, but it’s an a$$hole move to make a decision that will have an impact on your partner’s day or life without at least mentioning it first.

I’ve been in abusive/controlling relationships. Part of that behavior is NOT taking your partner into account. Spending significant amounts of money outside normal expenses, deciding to put all the household/family responsibilities on them, even for a night, without at least a heads up, is some seriously selfish behavior and big red flags in a relationship.

1. Sometimes it’s ok to go to bed angry.

When we first married, an older person told us to never go to bed angry. We dutifully followed that advice for a few years. But a couple of years into our marriage, we were up still arguing about something at 2 AM.

Finally we just went to bed angry after agreeing to discuss the problem in the morning. By the next morning we both realized we’d both just been tired. Well-rested the next day the problem just didn’t seem as big a deal.

For us at least….sometimes we just need to sleep on it.

I 100% agree with all of these, but would also say that every relationship is different. I’ve known plenty of successful and happy marriages where the partners are not “best friends,” for example!

What’s something you would put on this list? If you’re married, shout it out in the comments!