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Twenty20

Till death do us part? That’s, ahem, an awful lot of face time. But the great thing about marriage is, it’s full of surprises (good, bad and extremely sappy). Take it from these nine real ladies in happy, committed relationships. Below, what shocked them most about tying the knot. 

RELATED: Secrets of Real Women Who Have Been Married 30-Plus Years

That Anxieties Would Vanish
“The biggest surprise after five months of marriage: I stopped overthinking everything so much. When I was dating my now husband (and hell, every other ex-boyfriend I’ve ever had), I’d drive myself nuts picking the tiniest details apart and what it might mean for the relationship. ‘Last night he sent me three texts, and then he went out of town for a business trip, and then I texted him and he didn’t text back for two hours, but then he called the next morning, and WHAT DOES IT MEAN?’ …It was exhausting (and let’s face it, not the most attractive quality). But after getting married, all of my second-guessing melted away and I became delightfully laid-back about the whole thing. He forgot to call? Oh well, I’m sure he has a good reason. He forgot to buy my favorite ice cream? Whatever, he’ll remember next time. I’m a new person and I love it.” - Lindsay, NY 

That We Would Divide and Conquer
“When we got married, I had assumed we’d be one of those couples that split everything down the middle. As it’s turned out—after two kids and six years of marriage—we do much better when we each take full responsibility for the things we’re best suited  to. I handle finances, the children’s schedules and activities, vacation planning and laundry. He handles shopping, cooking, home/car maintenance and dog-walking. On the plus side, this frees us both from having to worry about half the work load. On the downside, if he got hit by a bus tomorrow, I worry I would have no idea how to make rice.” - Jill, PA

That We Could Make Our Own Rules
“Before my husband and I got married, I was reluctant, and I remember one thing he said that convinced me was, ‘it’s our marriage and we will make it however we want it to be.’ So I think the biggest surprise was how much that has turned out to be true; that marriage can be set by your definitions and the things that you need and want. Marriage comes with such heavy baggage around it that it’s staid or boring or sexist. And I was afraid of that. Meanwhile, my marriage has been anything but boring! We make each other brave.” - Sam, NY 

That the Work Would Be Fun
“When my wife and I were first married, we couldn’t understand why many people said that marriage is a lot of WORK because we were really having a lot of fun and life was/is better together. Of course, hard times do come along, but to me, it seems like building something interesting, and not laborious like work.” - Liz, MA 

That Taking His Last Name Would Be Assumed
“I was particularly surprised by how everyone automatically assumed that I would take my husband's last name. On my wedding day, my father-in-law declared: ‘And now you're Alexia Palmer!’ Nope.” - Alexia, NJ 

That Love Wouldn't Always Be Balanced
“There are times I know I have had stronger love than my husband and visa versa, where something happens and one doesn’t have the capacity to love passionately (like when a parent dies) and the other one has to be the ‘flame’ waiting until the other one can come back, healed or whatever. That’s the thing, sometimes it’s hard to do, but that’s what makes a marriage last.” - Katy, CA 

The Level of Comfort
“I think the most surprising thing for my husband and me was the great sense of security and sanctuary marriage provides; that no matter how bad things get, there is a safe place of support. And also how that feeling expands with every year of being together. Solid ground, which could be called a lack of surprise, I suppose, but in the best way possible!” - Amy, VT

That the Spark Grows
“I had a forever fear that once married, the spark and romance would slowly trickle away, but from the wedding itself, which is such a special celebration of your love, it seems to only grow in new, and more real ways every day.” - Maya, NY 

That Compromise Is Hard
“‘Compromise’ seems like an easy enough thing to do. But when it comes to your life, you know, the ‘big stuff,’ it’s really, really hard. There will be some difficult concessions you need to make to keep your S.O. happy, but that’s what partnership is about." - Brittany, NC

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