Marriage, it ain’t always pretty. Or easy. Or fun. That may sound grim – but here’s the secret: Sometimes it’s the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and love in general. So here’s the real, unvarnished truth about marriage.

At some point, you’ll look at the lump lying next to you and wonder, “Is this it? Forever?” It doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce. Maybe you start to feel disappointed over what your life has become. Well, don’t take that out on your partner. That’s about you. Let go of your sugarcoated fantasy of marriage. Marriage isn’t a destination, it’s a journey, often filled with dullness. Start looking more closely for the good things that it brings.

Another hard truth about marriage: You can only change yourself. Never get married with the idea that you’ll change your spouse. They may change over time – but it’s up to them. Instead – change the way you respond to your partner. So if their idea of making dinner includes leaving dirty dishes everywhere – don’t rant and nag. Change your response. Be happy they made dinner instead of thinking about the dishes.

One final dose of marriage reality: The biggest problems in your marriage – may all come down to you. If you have trust issues, control issues, or insecurity issues – they probably aren’t a result of the marriage, more likely it’s something you brought to the marriage. Maybe your dad cheated on your mom, or your homelife was out-of-control. You bring all that to your relationship. So turn the mirror on yourself. And learn to love each other despite your imperfections.