When you were younger, you looked around and saw all the happy couples around you. You probably had a few in your mind that you wanted to be like when you grew up, too. So when you were engaged, you did your homework and asked others what it takes to make a happy marriage. You probably read books and talked to your parents. They shared advice and words of wisdom, but there were a few things that nobody told you. If only you had a friend that could fill you in. Well, as a marriage counselor in Denver, that's exactly what I'm going to do.
1. It's not your spouse's job to give you "Happily Ever After."
In the fairy tales, the prince fights dragons and witches for a woman he doesn't even know just so he can be her hero and bring her a "happily ever after" ending. In real life, it's unrealistic to expect your spouse to be everything you need to provide you a "happily ever after." "Happily ever after" happens when both of you work together to meet each other's emotional needs. They want to work to meet your needs because you're also working to meet theirs. And you're working to give each other a "happily ever after."
2. Marriage is the most rewarding thing, but also the most difficult
When things are going well in your marriage, you're as happy as you think you could be. But when things aren't going well, your relationship becomes bland and stale, and you fight. You're almost miserable.
3. Your happiness in your marriage is your responsibility
Sure, in a marriage your spouse is supposed to be loving and caring. But that doesn't mean it's up to them to make you happy. Your happiness is up to you. If you're not happy in life or your relationship, you ultimately have the responsibility to fix it.
4. Children are the most rewarding thing
A stranger once told me "If I didn't have kids I would have retired as a millionaire years ago... but I'd rather have the kids." Nobody can really explain the absolute joy and love you feel as a parent - until you become one.
Everybody gets married with the worry that their spouse will change into someone they don't like. The truth is that your spouse absolutely will change. They're supposed to, actually. It's part of the circle of life. When you're 50, you don't like the same things you did when you were 20. And you (hopefully) don't act the same as you did when you were 20. The point is to continue getting to know your spouse through all the changing that you're both experiencing. In this way, you stay in love with each other even though you're both different people than when you met.
Knowing these things can help you and your spouse work together on goals in your relationship that will create happiness for both of you. It will also help you both avoid misunderstandings of what your relationship is supposed to be that actually create difficulties.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.