What I thought marriage would be like vs. what it actually is

Jul 11, 2014 at 6:00 a.m. ET
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When the possibility of marriage is first tossed onto the table in a young couple's relationship, visions of their life together stretch out before them like a string of sexy dreams. The reality of marriage, though, isn't always how you pictured it prior to tying the knot. Especially, in my experience, in respect to these three expectations.

1. Sex... so much sex

When we were in the throes of dating passion, we were always hot and bothered. There was no time of the day (or night) we weren't up for a round of between-the-sheets action. It seems logical, then, that marriage would be a continuation of this — and even more so, since we'd be living together and have tons of alone time. Right? Well, hate to break it to you, but hot and bothered often means something entirely different when you're married. In the most literal sense of the words, you're actually frickin' hot and/or bothered... especially if there are kids in the mix. But happily, as you mature in your relationship, quality overshadows quantity — you've got more stamina, and you've been together long enough to know exactly what buttons to push to drive each other wild (in the best way possible).

2. Jetting off at a moment's notice

Again, you'll be living together and have all this free time, so the world is your oyster. Of course, in your grand visions of life living on room service at swanky resorts, you forgot to factor in one little thing: money. Turns out it doesn't grow on trees. Oh, and all that free time? Only if you have jobs with decent vacation time, and vacation time that syncs up, for that matter. In reality, my husband and I consider it a win if on any given Saturday we manage to get dressed up and make it to our friend's backyard barbecue two towns over. And while real vacations — few and far between they may be — are nice, you can't imagine a swanky resort that can make black bean burgers and home-brewed craft beer as good as your buddy Bryan.

3. Bringing babies into this world in a blur of dreamy Anne-Geddes-esque cuteness

I always assumed that one day, once I'd been married for a few years, we would start our family. It would be ethereal and filled with sweetness. Being pregnant would be a string of oohs and aahs and precious belly kicks. Fast forward nine years into my marriage, when my husband and I actually decided to bite the baby bullet, as it were. Pregnancy was a blur of flatulence and sciatica, around-the-clock "morning" sickness and weird cravings. Nearly everything my husband did during this time inexplicably drove me crazy — one time I banished him from the bedroom because he was chewing too loudly while I was trying to watch Grey's Anatomy. True story.

Then came labor and delivery, which was a total b****. And, afterwards, the recovery. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the candy-coated chapter of life I'd envisioned. But still, when your husband stands by you through all that and makes you ice diapers to put in your ginormous stretchy hospital panties to deal with postpartum pain? Well, that's when you know it's real, tried and true, tested-in-the-fire love.

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