Marriages are like snowflakes, no two are alike -- which is why finding spot-on marriage advice can be difficult.
Rather than looking to books or magazines, it's often better to simply ask those who have lived and breathed it. Take this Reddit thread, for example, which emerged recently and asked married users, "What is something you wish you had known before you got married?"
Here is what they had to say:
1. The little things matter.
"Gestures of love aren't the rooms filled with roses or holding boom boxes above your head. The little stuff: folding his underwear without complaint, being the one that gets up with the kid so she can get an extra half hour of sleep, doing the dishes even though it's his turn because you know he had a hard day — that's what love looks like."
2. Know who you are before getting married.
"I wish I had sorted out what I wanted to do with my life. My twenties have been spent just sort of following life, rather than leading it. So now I'm going to grad school, getting things on track. And I wish I could do it my way. But I have a wife."
3. A marriage can't survive on love alone.
"That there is no such thing as a soulmate. A marriage takes work and some days it's harder than others. If you think you can just sit back and be married without putting in effort, you're going to be divorced."
4. Don't let the idea of "forever" scare you.
"It's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Oh sure, there are times when I want to grind my teeth into a fine powder out of frustration. That can be said about anything in life. But for the most part it's as simple as getting to regularly enjoy the company of someone you appreciate. I put off getting married for a long time out of fear. But once I actually went through with it, it turned out to be a pretty good time."
5. Sometimes space can be a good thing.
"The importance of alone time."
6. Ask the big questions beforehand.
"[I wish I knew] that she likes crunchy peanut butter. If I wanted to eat peanuts, I would have."
7. Be ready for the curveballs life throws you.
"How scary it would be when he had a cancer scare. How easy it is to fall into a pattern of not spending time really connecting with each other. How wonderful it is to have him when things are rough and be there for him when he needs me."
8. Don't lose sight of who you are.
"How important it is too have a life outside of your marriage. Too many people go into it thinking you are now a 'we' more than a 'me' but that is the quickest way to start hating one another."
9. Embrace change rather than fight it.
"How much life would change over the years, especially if you have kids. The biggest thing is to make sure your both on the same page."
10. Take time to learn your partner's love language.
"Everyone has their own ways of communicating how much they love you. Learn how s/he communicates and speak in his/her language (this goes both ways). Sex really is important. Make it a priority. When this isn't going well, something else is wrong; lack of sex is a symptom, not a disease."
11. Understand that saying "I do" is a big deal.
"Marriage changes things no matter what."
12. Make decisions for you, not for other people.
"I'm pretty sure I would not, looking back, have had the large party we were kind of pushed into having. It was fun but stressed me out too much ... Also, I don't think I would have changed my last name. It's not a feminisim thing, it was just that this was right after 9/11 and before you could do a lot of things online ... [Now] everyone wants different 'proof' of who you are and in varying orders."
13. Marriage is not an end, it's a beginning.
"Even after marriage, you both continue changing as individuals. I remember thinking that getting married was the final step to becoming who I am with this person. Nope! A lot has changed for the better, especially how I react to my husband doing something like leaving the towel on the floor after I would tell him to hang it up. I love my husband enough to just pick it up myself and not get upset about it."
14. Remember to have fun.
"Laughter really is the best medicine, as hokey as it sounds."
15. Learn how to forgive.
"Communication is key, forgiveness is an absolute must. If you can't let go of the little stuff and genuinely forgive each other's mistakes, it will not go smoothly."
16. Don't compare your marriage to others.
"That every marriage and relationship is different. Don't judge what's happening in your relationship based on what you've seen on TV/your friends relationships, just like you are different as people to them, your relationship will also be different."
17. Selflessness can lead to happiness.
"Marriage is not about compromise - it never works out well. Marriage is about mutual submission. It's not about 'I'm giving up what i want, so you have to give up what you want and we settle in the middle'. Instead, it's about realizing that you can give up things of yourself when it means happiness for the other, which ultimately leads to your own happiness."