We asked eight women—some still married, some divorced—for the number one thing they wish they’d known before getting married. Study up on these lessons before you get hitched to make married life a little sweeter.
“I’m a liberal Democrat and my former husband was a conservative Republican. I don’t know why I didn’t think that was important. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on any of the issues and it really hurt our respect for each other and thus our happiness. In dealing with our infertility, I was worried that his anti-abortion view could become dangerous to my life if we did any high-tech reproductive assistance. Also, I had an abortion decades earlier and felt misunderstood. I hated when the conservative newspaper landed in our driveway and he felt the same about my newspaper.” —Lisa D.
“Marriage really binds you to one another, in a great way, but it’s nice to still feel like your own person. Having alone time and separate hobbies is really important. For example, my husband and I each have a few TV shows that we watch separately, and it’s good to factor individuality into your marriage. That’s something that kind of evolved after our first year of marriage.” —Ashley W.
“With my first marriage, I wish I’d known that as long as your partner has a relationship with their family, then it matters how well you get along with them—especially whoever your intended is closest to. When I was 21, that seemed stupidly old-fashioned. I wasn’t marrying a family, I was marrying a guy. Ooops! Even though he was an atheist to his fundamentalist family, he was still close with them, so there was the inevitable strain on our marriage. Many, if not most, fights came about around them.” —Kelly B.
“As close as you are now, you will still need to make your needs known. Spelling out what you want may not seem as romantic, but it’s not fair to play guessing games and then get bent out of shape when he is clueless. I read the book The 5 Love Languages later in our marriage, and I wish I’d read it when we werenewlyweds. Once I’d identified his primary ‘love language’ and mine, it helped us take our relationship to a whole new level.” —Echo G.
“I wish I had grasped the concept and power of picking battles earlier. Focus on issues that truly impact your long-term happiness and let small annoyances roll off your shoulder.” —Jess S.