Marriage is one of those big, life-changing events that can be hard to anticipate. You don’t actually know what it’s like inside a marriage until the ceremony is in your rearview, so it kind of makes sense that so many people resort to trial and error to get it right.

If you’re thinking about taking the leap, or think you might want to some day, these 14 people who have been there have a few things they think you should know.

14. Stay focused.

It’s your marriage and nobody else’s business. Don’t ever judge the success or failure of your marriage by what other marriages APPEAR to be.

Nobody’s marriage is perfect, no matter what their Gram shows.

13. Choose your battles.

Focus on your marriage and not just on the wedding.

And decide whether a fight is worth having – if it doesn’t matter tomorrow does it really matter today

sometimes things don’t matter tomorrow but they could matter the next time the same scenario comes up. So it’s still important to discuss. But in those cases I still like to wait till I’m over it to bring up how we could manage to not piss each other off next time. Fail-safes for when we’re not our most considerate, which is often lol

12. You both have to be on board.

It requires both to make it work

11. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.

It’s okay to use separate blankets. No one likes to wake up with cold ass cheeks because the other person “stole” the blanket!

King size duvet on a queen size bed saved us.

10. Ideally they are your greatest support.

Know that whatever the darkest part of your life you’ve previously experienced was, you are going to go through something equally or more dark, but with your partner.

Having someone who will support you rather than leave you in that moment is pivotal.

9. Sleep is important.

Also totally okay to sleep in separate beds or even separate rooms if that’s what works for you. I am not going to be a good partner if I got 4 hours of sleep because I was listening to him snore all night.

Or if jobs require different sleeping schedules and you take awhile to get to sleep.

8. Evolution is inevitable.

Even though you get married, your relationship will keep evolving. You might not be in that “honeymoon” phase of in love, but you still love and respect the person that you are with.

Both of you will change as people as the relationship gets older, but that’s not a bad thing. Life is change.

7. Attraction isn’t love.

Attraction comes and goes, but staying committed through it will really help you feel accepted and loved. Often the attraction differential doesn’t kick in during dating.

I’ll add- marry someone you like > love. That romantic feeling is an emotion that waxes and wanes with time. Truly enjoying someone aside from intimate stuff is what makes up 99% of the time of the relationship.

6. You shouldn’t fight a lot.

Fights/quarrels will happen, but nowhere near as frequently as media makes it out to be. My wife and I are so tired of shows and movies saying “we’re married so of course we’re going to fight. We have lots of fights ahead.”

Fighting is not a norm of being married. If you’re fighting a lot, that’s not good and isn’t a sign to get married just because fighting is “inevitable”, because it’s not.

There’s also an important distinction between fighting and squabbling! My wife and I virtually never fight. Maybe a couple times since we started dating. But a 5 minute squabble about something unimportant that you quickly forget about should not be viewed the same way as a fight

5. Work on yourself first.

I wasn’t a good partner until I got my own stuff figured out.

Part of why I started therapy was because I wanted to be a better partner and I didn’t want to rely on my husband to keep me together. It wasn’t fair to him, even though he was amazing and supportive.

Obviously I still lean on him and can rely on him, but he’s not my crutch anymore and I can be there for him when he needs it now. Still working on my stuff though.

4. Try to be respectful.

Also, when you do fight, you should still be respectful towards your spouse. No name calling, no screaming/yelling.

Yes voices get raised sometimes, but you should still be able to discuss things. And there is never a good reason to use profanity (above your normal level of use) in a fight with your spouse.

You may not like them in the moment, but you got married because you love them. Try to remember that.

3. You will both change.

Your spouse is going to change. They will not be the same person you married 2, 5, 10, 20 years ago. Then once you’ve learned that, they will change again. Just like you will evolve and change as time goes by.

Don’t be keyed in on the idea of the person you married on your wedding day. You need to understand how to grow with them and love them for who they are at that moment.

Sometimes you need to “break up with them.” My wife and I went through a rut around our 7th year of marriage. We had become completely different people and we needed to find a way to fall in love again.

I had to forget everything I knew about the woman that I married and get to know this “new” woman that was next to me. Our hobbies and interests have changed and so I had to take the time to get to know those things about her. Our spiritual beliefs had changed. I had to open myself up and learn about her new journey to find herself.

Marriage is an ever adapting and evolving relationship. It’s a ton of emotional work but if you can let go of your preconceptions of that person and get to know that new person they’ve become, you might make it last.

2. Tell the truth.

Be honest always! Once you break trust, you never really get it back. Even if that honesty might cause some momentary discomfort, in the long run you’re better off because your spouse will trust you.

Also, never put yourself in a position where cheating is an option. Your single friends will never value your marriage as much as you do.

Edit: Just to clarify the cheating bit – if you have an opposite-sex friend that you know is into you, it is probably best to limit your contact with that person. Or, at the very least, try not to be alone with them. Sure, you may not see them as they see you, but after a bad fight with your spouse it may lead to a mistake. There may be times that you temporarily wish you were not married to your spouse. This is natural and should be addressed with your spouse. It should not be addressed with your opposite-sex friend that is into you.

Also, this applies to all marriages. Not just heterosexual ones as my post might indicate.

1. There will be bad times, and sometimes they will last.

I have been married over 30 years. I would estimate only 25 of those years has been happily married. There will be shitty times possibly years. Wait it out unless it’s abuse. People are often unhappy at work or something like that and leave their partner instead of dealing with the true problem.

Your spouse should be the one you lean on to get through the outside noise not the first one you blame.

As someone who is on her second marriage, I don’t think there’s any bad information in this post.

If you’re married or have been married, what do you think the uninitiated need to know? Drop it in your comments!