Eight years. That is the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce in the United States. My husband and I are approaching our 10-year wedding anniversary, and the fact we are so close to double digits feels like a pretty big accomplishment! Next to parenthood, marriage is probably the hardest, yet most worthwhile endeavor I have ever undertaken. I have learned a whole heck of a lot over the last 10 years!

Some of you might still be in the honeymoon phase of your marriage, where your significant other actually sprays air freshener every time he stinks up the bathroom, you can do the deed wherever and whenever you want, and the love well feels like it will never run dry. This phase is important and is an amazing way to kickstart your new life as husband and wife.

But as any couple married for a good chunk of time can tell you, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. As those anniversary years start to add up, you will likely discover marriage is full of ups and down and things might even go a little sideways for awhile.

Don’t let this scare you. There are plenty of wonderful days still ahead, but there will also be days where the learning curve feels pretty steep.

Here are nine truths about marriage I have learned over the last 10 years:

1. Your spouse will change, and so will you.
Yes, it is inevitable that you will both change physically. From extra weight, to stretch marks, to those pesky gray hairs that suddenly appear out of nowhere. As the years pass, things will start to shift and sag (thanks a lot, gravity!) and you will probably not be rockin’ the same bod in your forties as you did in your twenties. But it’s not only physical changes that occur.

Life happens. You learn new things. You experience success. You fail. You might decide to throw a screaming newborn (or two or three) into the mix. It all changes you. You will grow and morph and expand your thinking. You will not be the same person five, 10, or 15 years into your marriage and neither will your spouse. These growing pains will be challenging at times, but overall, I tend to think this growth is a good thing.

2. You will hurt each other.
Deep down, I knew this truth was inevitable. After all, we are all imperfect people who make mistakes. But it’s easy to overlook this truth when you are standing across from each other, butterflies swirling in your stomach, pledging till death do us part.

Forgiveness is key. If you screw up, apologize. And if your spouse offers you an apology, accept it and move on. Someone really smart once said “Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.” Let. It. Go.

3. Marriage takes compromise.
It can be as minor as which movie to watch or where to eat dinner. Or it can be a major decision like where to live or how many kids you are going to have. It doesn’t always feel fair. Often it’s a struggle for two strong-willed individuals to reach an agreement, but it is necessary because you will not always be on the same page. I can guarantee it.

4. You will laugh harder than you ever thought possible, and you will cry harder than you ever thought possible.
Life is a roller coaster, and sometimes it throws you unexpected curveballs that bring you to your knees. There have been times I felt like I had literally no more tears left to cry. And on the flip-side, I have laughed so hard with my husband that my sides hurt. If you stay married long enough, you will certainly experience both scenarios.

5. Sharing your life with someone who knows you on such a deep level is comforting beyond words.
In the winter, I love to cozy up in front of the fireplace with a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and a good book. It’s snuggly and warm and comforting. It may sound a bit cheesy, but being married to your best friend often feels like that.

It’s comforting to know you can truly be yourself around someone else and he will love you despite your weird quirks. It’s comforting to know that your spouse still sees your beauty even if you haven’t managed to shower for three days. It’s comforting to know there is someone who has your back no matter what and is your biggest cheerleader.

6. It is imperative to take time for yourself.
I didn’t get married until I was in my late twenties. That means I lived almost three decades before becoming someone’s wife. I love spending time with my husband, and time with him without the kids has become a crucial part of keeping our marriage healthy and thriving.

But it’s equally important that I have alone time. Call it self-care, call it selfish, call it whatever you want, but it’s necessary. I also believe it’s important for my husband to have time to himself. When we take the time to fill our own cups back up, we have more patience, energy, and love to pour out over those we care about the most.

7. You will take turns picking up the slack.
Ever heard the expression “Marriage isn’t 50/50, marriage is 100/100”? In theory, I love this sentiment—each giving it your all, so your relationship never falls short. But I just don’t think this is real life. You won’t always be able to give 100 percent. Sometimes, you will be contributing more than your spouse. And other times, your spouse will pick up the slack.

In our early days of marriage and especially when we first became parents, I found myself keeping a mental scorecard and feeling resentful. Maybe you are guilty of this, too. Here is the problem; we tend to give ourselves way more credit than we deserve, and our spouse doesn’t get enough credit. No matter who has the highest “score”, there really are no winners.

8. You might wonder if you married the right person.
Yep, I said it. Marriage can be really hard. There might come a time when you are knee-deep in a struggle and this good-for-nothing thought weasels its way into your mind. It’s easy to be overflowing with love when times are good and life is moving along smoothly. It can be much harder to focus on all the wonderful qualities of your spouse during times of stress.

The good news? If you have a strong foundation, you will be able to get through the hard times without having your marriage fall apart.

9. You will realize over and over again you did, in fact, marry the right person.
Marriage can be pretty darn amazing. And as the years go by and you continue to build a shared history together, you will create something so special and sacred you just can’t imagine sharing that with anyone else. There will be many points in your marriage, in both happy and sad times, when you will grab your partner’s hand and know with complete confidence this is the ONLY hand you want to be holding for the rest of your life.

If you learn to grow together, not expect perfection, practice forgiveness, and maybe even use that air freshener in the bathroom every once in a while, I have no doubt that you will make it to year 10, and well beyond.

Now, step away from your screen, and go love up on your honey!

You may also like:

Marriage is Worth the Hard Parts

Dear Husband, Our Life May Sometimes be Difficult, But You Make Our Love a Fairytale

To My Husband—I Don’t Say It Enough: Thank You For Being Our Everything

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Miracles in the Mess