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When we first got married, we knew everything. We were looking around at other couples struggling like, “What’s wrong with them? It is not that hard!” I’m sure they were looking back at us saying, “Just keep on living.”

At the beginning of a relationship, a marriage, it can be close to utopia. Everyone is putting their best foot forward . . . looking good, talking good, loving your family—all of that! And then the inevitable happens, change. People change, seasons change, circumstances change, and this is what should be happening, but who is an expert in change?

I’m a few months away from my 16th wedding anniversary and I am no expert in change, but I still consider my husband to be one of my best choices. There are, however, so many learnings about love and, more specifically, romantic love that I’d love to share based on our experiences. While there are probably hundreds of lessons I’ve learned, I’ve narrowed them down to 10 that stand out.

1. There will be days when you do not like each other. But the days you do like each other will far outweigh the days you do not. So, when these difficult days come, remember that feelings are temporary, and they will pass.

RELATED: Marriage Isn’t About Your Happiness

2. Your wedding ring is a covering for your finger, not your eyes. Hence, both you and your partner will sometimes be distracted by people and situations that are pleasing to your eyes. This is normal. Be sure to create a space for open and honest communication where you can hold each other accountable.

3. Great sex will quickly get boring if this area of the relationship isn’t nurtured. Consider intertwining romance, intimacy, and/or no-phone zones. Also, feel empowered to continue to explore with your spouse. No one wants a robot on repeat.

4. The person you commit to on your wedding day will likely be a completely different person years after your wedding day. Consequently, it is imperative to commit to learning and relearning your partner every single day. If not, it’s possible to end up living with a stranger.

5. Good friends should not be forsaken when we get married. Your partner is not equipped to be your everything. They simply don’t have the capacity, and it is an unrealistic expectation. Community is still necessary—even more so after your wedding day.

6. Have someone (or a couple) in mind who you can talk to when times get tough . . . because times will get tough. And this doesn’t necessarily mean you all will have overwhelming problems with each other, but life will happen. Your parents will age. Your children will become teenagers. Your health may decline during certain seasons. When these things happen, have a trusted confidant on standby. Other people have been there and done that. Yes, your experiences will be unique to your relationship, but their experiences may help guide you.

7. Do your best not to compare and keep up with your friends. Trust me, no matter how much you think you know about their story, you do not know the full story. Comparison between people is distorted 100 percent of the time. Be your own couple goals.

RELATED: Want a Better Marriage? Get a Hot Tub.

8. Boundaries will likely need to be renegotiated. You are different. They are different. What you are willing to allow will change. What you want will change. So, communicate your desires and expectations continually.

9. You are more than a husband, more than a wife. You are still a person—a being. It is still imperative that you feel like a man or a woman. Just as you will need to continually learn and relearn your partner, you will need to continually learn and relearn yourself. If you lose yourself in the titles you’ve been assigned (i.e., husband, wife, mom, dad, etc.), it is likely that you will subconsciously begin to look for yourself. And if you’re not aware of what’s happening, you will look for yourself outside yourself.

10. You will constantly extend and exchange grace. Your partner will disappoint you. You will disappoint your partner. Believe it or not, you both are human. While disappointment doesn’t feel good, the beauty that is birthed from grace is love manifested. It’s a God-type of love.

Now, within our relationship, we support each other’s personal development and encourage each other to navigate our unique paths. Yes, we are doing life together, but we are very intentional about recognizing the whole person that exists all by themselves. 

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Cherice Jackson

As I travel my own self-love journey, it is my goal to help introduce others to their unique journey. When I look at you, I see me. And, because I love me, I love you. Love is my purpose. My goals are to: Embody Love; Be Love; and, Spread Love. Love is my lifestyle. There aren't many things I know for sure, but I do know that in order to fully love ourselves, we must first know and accept ourselves. It is a journey dedicated to "unbecoming" so that we may truly become . . . giving ourselves permission to show up in this world without regard to other people's opinions, perceptions, or expectations. As I commit to guiding those who trust me, I am committed to being a lifetime learner. While currently teaching courses at a local college and serving as a trained relationship coach, I continue to make time to study both spirituality and love.

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