What marriage is really like
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Happily Ever After1 of 12
By Brienne Walsh & Shannan Rouss
If you're single, then the idea of being with someone FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE might seem overwhelming. And if you're not single? "Till death do us part" can still be pretty scary. So, in an effort to help demystify marriage and find out what it's really like—whether after one month or 45 years—we talked to 11 couples at various stages in their relationships. Read on for their down-to-earth advice and make-it-last inspiration.
After 1 month...2 of 12
Teresa & Mark
Team spirit: "We view any and all ups and downs in our lives as if we are a team.”
Changing for the better: "If there's maybe one thing that's different since getting married, it's that we are more at ease with one another. We realize now that we are with each other for the rest of our lives, and that life is too short to argue over little things."
After 1 year...3 of 12
Dana & Andrew
New normal: "When you're younger, you think marriage is so different, but it's just normal life with someone you love spending time with."
Learning curve: "When you live with someone, the things you love about them can become things that annoy you, so you have to try not to take each other for granted."
After 2 years...4 of 12
Allegra & Jordan
Why it works: "I get to be with my best friend every day."
Staying connected: "We'll take a weekend trip—somewhere just a couple hours away—when we need to get away and reconnect with each other."
Good advice: "Choose your battles because it's not worth fighting over the small stuff."
After 5 years...5 of 12
Susana & Michael
Why it works: "We've gone through some tough things together, and gradually you realize that there's someone there all the time who always has your back. That's rare, and that strengthens the love."
Good advice: "You have to be generous toward the other person, not keep a running list of all their faults. Sometimes the urge is to keep that list so you have something to use to defend yourself in case of a disagreement."
After 8 years...6 of 12
Gabrielle & Todd
The best part: "With three kids, our day-to-day life is loving, happy and hectic. Spending time together as a family is what makes it fulfilling."
Good advice: "Communicate and compromise."
Keeping the romance alive: "Date nights and sexy PJs are a must."
After 11 years...7 of 12
Lisa & Jason
The best part: "Knowing that I have a partner who is equally dedicated to building a strong family, and who believes in working hard for what you have."
Getting away: "We try to plan at least a couple weekend getaways during the year where it's just us. These little breaks from the daily grind let us step back, take a few deep breaths, and remember why we started on this wild journey together."
After 21 years...8 of 12
AnnMarie & David
Why it works: "The unconditional and accepting love and friendship."
Time flies: "The years have flown by, which is the best part of our relationship. It seems like yesterday that we met, but at the same time, we've built a wonderful life."
Good advice: "You need to understand and accept the person you've married."
After 36 years...9 of 12
Audrey & Pat
Heart of the matter: "In a way, we did become one."
Good advice: "When you're with someone, you're going to end up hating him at times. You're going to feel jealous. But those emotions are really a reflection of the way you feel about yourself and it's an opportunity to heal. You have to accept yourself to really love another person—and that's where the work lies."
After 39 years...10 of 12
Sylvia & Jeff
Family matters: "We have been blessed with children and grandchildren whom we spend quality time with on a regular basis. Our home is always a gathering place for family and friends."
Good advice: "Always make time for each other no matter how hectic your life may be. Support each other's interests—if he likes sports and you like going to movies, figure out how to do both activities together. It's easy to drift apart when you don't value the things that interest the person you love."
After 40 years...11 of 12
Claire & Aldo
Surprise, surprise: "I was 19 when I married Aldo. I really had no clue what I was getting into."
Biggest challenge: "Staying connected after our two daughters were born."
Why it works: "He has a great sense of humor. And we both have a strong faith in God. It helps us get through tough times."
After 45 years...12 of 12
Suzanne & John
Why it works: "We're partners in every sense of the word. Both professionally and personally. And it's been a whirlwind!"
Good advice: "Grow together. Support each other. Be kind. Communicate. Give each other space. Be each other's champions."
Keeping the romance alive: "John has a great sense of humor. He truly makes me laugh every day. There's never a dull moment with him!"