Expectation: be with someone who completes you.

Expectation: kids will improve a marriage.

The realities are less easy.

Thought Catalog explored how idealism before marriage can cause surprise when, years or even months down the road, that initial newly-wed bliss wears away.

While that’s normal, there’s also no reason to subscribe to the other. And opposite assumption: that married couples no longer have a passionate love life.

To be sure, keeping romance and deep love alive is challenging and takes work, but keep these things in mind even as you’re planning your wedding and you’ll be off to a positive start:

  1. It’s not all physical: Perhaps not the most exciting, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is that intimacy includes physical–and social, intellectual, and emotional connection. Make sure to feed all of these areas regularly, sharing stories about your workdays, your hopes and fears. Enroll in a class, volunteer, and, if you’re religious, attend church together.
  2. Make the most of the little moments: Life gets busy. But that doesn’t mean, even in the most hectic times, that you can’t show you care. Kiss each other goodbye in the morning, leave a nice note on the kitchen table, send a flirty text. Little gestures go a long way. To keep it fresh, try something different every once in a while.
  3. Surprise him/her, for no reason: Thoughtful presents are always appreciated at holidays, but they’re even better when there’s no reason at all. Don’t focus on it being extravagant. Even just a ticket to a game or movie, or doing something, like washing your spouse’s’ car can make a big difference.
  4. Intimate on your own terms: Copious articles dictate how often you need to be physically intimate. The truth? It should be whatever both of you feel is best for you. Communicate often and forget about supposed expectations.
  5. Learn to make compromises: Making compromises doesn’t sound romantic but it’s essential to a healthy relationship. Something you can do is rotate if it’s as simple as arguing over what to do for a fun night out.
  6. Date nights: Date nights are still important. Schedule them if you need to. And don’t go to the same restaurant every time. Try some fun date ideas, even if you think they seem silly. Laughing together is really important.

And love yourself. A beautiful marriage starts with a emotionally healthy beautiful you.

Photo Credit: Shauna Lynne Photography