9 Things No One Tells You About Marriage

2. Get rid of your expectations and just enjoy the adventure.

No matter how much you read, no matter how much you pray or prepare, I can guarantee that marriage will never meet your expectations. Often, there are those sublime moments when everything you imagined is blown out of the water by the sheer reality of being with this person who will shape your eternity. But then there are lots of moments when you can hardly catch your breath from the frenzy of it all.

Do your spouse the favor of not expecting them to magically know everything you wish they would do to make you happy. Marriage is an equal partnership where both you and your spouse will need to start putting in more work to get everything accomplished—and not all of it will be pleasant. No one wants to do the dishes or clean the toilets, but setting expectations goes far beyond housework. 

If you wish your spouse would be more affectionate, would notice something you've changed, would plan more dates, or would change such and such, stop and do two things. First, remind yourself of all the good things your spouse does, how much they contribute, and how often they show their love for you. Then, and only then, be proactive and change whatever is bothering you. Don't sit back passively feeling frustrated or hurt—take control of your life and make a change.

Change your perspective, change the circumstances, speak up about your feelings, talk it out, find a resolution, but never assume the person who has to change is your spouse. God gave us each agency for a reason and we shouldn't violate another's right of choice by trying to control or micromanage them.

3. Sexual Intimacy comes naturally only if you work at it.

There are two things that fundamentally changed the way I understand sex. The first was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk "Of Symbols, Souls, and Sacraments." The second was a book that my husband and I both read while we were engaged, The Act of Marriage. (I'd also highly recommend And They Were Not Ashamed; this book is definitely an eye-opener for those who have questions about how sexual intimacy can connect us spiritually.)

Even if you have received a thorough sex education and think you know everything, these resources integrate the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of sexual intimacy in a way that will probably change how you see this sacred act. As Elder Holland has said, "Sexual intimacy is not only a symbolic union between a man and a woman—the uniting of their very souls—but it is also symbolic of a union between mortals and deity, between otherwise ordinary and fallible humans uniting for a rare and special moment with God himself and all the powers by which he gives life in this wide universe of ours. In this latter sense, human intimacy is a sacrament, a very special kind of symbol."

► You'll also like: How I Overcame Intimacy Problems as a Latter-day Saint Newlywed

Because of the vulnerability and intense emotions involved, the frustration or pain that can result from problems in your sexual life can be harmful to your overall relationship. Here are a few suggestions to help you build a stronger sexual relationship as a newlywed.

Talk to each other about everything—Talk to one another often about what you like or don't like, what you are comfortable with, what you feel excited about, etc. Be frank. Often, these things can change from day to day based on a person's mood, so be sure to tell your spouse what you need and what feels good. Don't feel guilty or selfish for honestly sharing your needs. We grow closer in love by serving and being served, and you might miss out on some of the sweetest moments of connection if you aren't willing to be honest.

Timing plays a big part—One aspect of sexual intimacy I didn't realize is that often in marriage, one spouse feels more aroused in the mornings and one in the evenings. That means feelings of arousal can often get out of sync, leaving one or both of you frustrated. As with everything else in your marriage, find ways to compromise. Saying no and being told no can both be very frustrating places to be in, so be compassionate with each other. If you don't feel as in the mood when your spouse is ready to go, be willing to try. Tell your spouse what you might need to more fully connect. If you're the one who is interested but your spouse seems oblivious to you, don't feel hurt. Instead, communicate, make your intentions clear, and help your spouse understand how you are feeling. It's never selfish to let your spouse know you want to have sex. Be confident and don't try to guess what your spouse might be feeling or thinking. At the same time, be patient and realize it might take some time for your spouse to reach your same level or that sometimes the answer is no but your spouse still loves and wants you. 

Be honest with your spouse—In everything, honesty and frankness save heartache and second-guessing. At all times in your relationship, never be afraid to tell your spouse no when it comes to sex. But also be sure to explain your thoughts and feelings. If you feel sick, emotionally distant, tired, etc., tell your spouse honestly, saving them the worry of blaming themselves or wondering if they did something wrong. This also helps your spouse understand how they can support and serve you better, something that will improve your relationship in every way. And be sure that no matter what you say to your spouse they never doubt your love for them. Also, be honest after intimacy, telling your spouse what you might need or any intense emotions or thoughts you might be feeling, even when it feels the most vulnerable and difficult.

Be sure not to ignore your emotional, mental, and spiritual connection—While sexual intimacy is an important part of marriage, be careful not to  let other areas of your life lose focus. As you talk with one another, learn from each other, and connect mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, a stronger physical connection tends to naturally follow.

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