Marriage is almost everyone’s dream for those who plan on having a family. It’s been regarded as truly one of the most amazing things by those who have been lucky to find happiness in it. However, taking a decision to be forever united with your significant other requires that you understand and be prepared for what marriage as an institution holds. For those who are dating, engaged or already planning for their wedding, counsellor Shadia Nansasi says it’s important to understand that there is no clear formula for how a marriage works. People are different and that’s how our relationships are, she says, adding that this is why it’s important to work your marriage as a couple and not compare it to others. “At times, married couples are tempted to compare their marriage or spouse to others, but this requires that you create your own love story and live your life without comparing it to someone else’s,” she says. She also reveals that married couples don’t always feel “in love”. That deep love and connection you feel at the beginning of a relationship won’t always be there when you get married. This, however, doesn’t mean that you are no longer in love with your partner. Such tends to happen when you stay with someone for a long period of time. It’s, hence, crucial to understand that this is normal and stay grounded in the values that brought you together as a couple, she advises. An article, ‘What to know before getting married: Advice from a couple’s therapist’ warns couples to be aware of the expectations they are bringing into the marriage. ‘You probably want a lot from just one person: A companion, a passionate lover, good parent and more, and that this is bound to create issues,’ the article reads, adding that having certain beliefs for instance, ‘my partner will meet all of my needs for companionship,’ ‘I don’t believe romance should fade over time,’ can bring trouble into a marriage. It also reveals that couples need to understand that love is a commitment, not a feeling. “Love isn’t just about how your spouse makes you feel or how you feel about them. It is a commitment to invest time, energy, and care into another person’s life. There will be days that you won’t feel like it, you may even be upset with something your spouse has said or done, but the commitment you made to love is what will drive you to work things out and keep your relationship moving forward.” Your partner won’t ‘complete you’ Maureen Katushabe has been married for over two years now. She describes her experience as beautiful and shocking as well. For some reason, Katushabe expected marriage to be a bed of roses but to her disappointment, much as she was clearly in love with her husband, they weren’t happy all the time. “I was scared at first thinking that our union was going to crumble, but I later realised that I went into marriage with a lot of expectations forgetting that getting married doesn’t negate the realities of life,” she narrates. She shares some of her lessons saying that it’s important for couples to understand that their partner will not make them happy, at least not all the time. “Your partner can make you happy but don’t hold it as an expectation because you will be disappointed. Seek your own happiness, and in turn, you will also be able to make your spouse happy.” The other thing she shares is that people should stop thinking that their spouse is going to ‘complete them’. “This is not true or even practical. When you rely on this, you are going to make your relationship toxic by being possessive and selfish in your marriage. Any couple needs to have the ability to be with each other, but at the same, remain grounded in their individuality,” she counsels. Writer Carey Nieuwhof notes that when you agree on values in marriage, you will agree a lot more. “Because it’s often the little things you fight about, it’s important to understand where you agree on the big things. Big things would include your faith, your approach to parenting, your philosophy of life, your priorities, your finances and more. When you agree on your values, you will agree on a lot more,” the writer notes. Nieuwhof also reveals that in marriage, it’s possible to marry your opposite. “All those things you loved about your spouse when you were dating are the same the things that will drive you crazy when you’re married. We just get attracted to our opposites. Knowing that is progress in itself, and will help you delight in your spouse (when he or she isn’t driving you crazy over said opposites),” he notes.