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Love in Dating VS. Love in Marriage: The Differences

When people ask newlyweds "how's married life?", they often get a response of "the same lol". While this is understandable—it can be hard to put into words the depth of love that comes with marriage—the truth is that the love between a dating couple and a married couple is different. When a couple gets married, they often joke that nothing has really changed. But while it’s true that the love they share is still the same, the ways they express that love will usually evolve over time-and they probably won't even notice as it happens .

Photography: Leah Gunn Photography

The differences between love in dating and love in marriage may seem subtle, but they can have a profound impact on the strength, longevity, and overall happiness and quality of a relationship.

When couples are dating, love is often expressed in the form of grand gestures. A romantic dinner out, a bouquet of flowers, or an extravagant gift may all be used to show the other person just how much they’re loved. While these gestures are important, they’re usually not sustainable in the long-term. In a marriage, love often takes a more subtle form. Small acts of kindness, such as making coffee in the morning or doing the dishes without being asked, can be just as meaningful as the big romantic gestures. This kind of love is more practical, and it’s something that can be woven into the fabric of everyday life.

They way couples talk about their love evolves as they progress through the different stages of relationships as well. When couples are dating, they often spend a lot of time talking about the future and their dreams. This is what we all call the “honeymoon phase" - they want to share every aspect of their lives with each other. While everyone talks about not wanting to leave this stage of the relationship, it is inevitable as you grow as individuals and as a multifaceted couple. In a marriage, communication tends to shift to the present. Couples talk more about the everyday things, like bills, kids, and work. This is important for building a strong partnership, but it can also be difficult for some couples to adjust to. It’s important for couples to make time for meaningful conversations, even if it’s just a few minutes at the end of the day. Another thing that couples with successful marriages do is "check in" with each other. No, we don't mean by sending "what are you doing right now" text messages. We mean meaningful check-ins about mental health, overall happiness, how each of you are feeling about life in general, burn-out, exhaustion, what you're excited about, literally all the things.

We've briefly touched on the differences between these two types of love, but here is another breakdown of the key differences:

  • Intimacy: When dating, couples can often have a physical relationship without the emotional connection of marriage. In marriage, couples have a much deeper connection and intimacy, which is based on the trust and commitment made to each other. You each have to consistently choose to choose each other everyday and continually work towards having a successful relationship.

  • Communication: Communication is an important part of any relationship, but especially in marriage. When couples are dating, they may communicate more superficially, but in marriage, couples take the time to talk about their feelings, hopes, and dreams and overall struggles. These conversations evolve overtime, especially when kids are in the picture, but as your life expands so do your conversation topics.

  • Forgiveness: While it's important to give each other grace in any relationship, marriage requires couples to truly forgive each other. When couples are dating, they may be more likely to hold grudges, but in marriage, couples learn to forgive and move on. If you or your partner do not possess this skill, it will be exponentially harder to overcome hardship and conflict. This is something that will take time to learn, but over time you both will develop a forgiveness routine that works for your relationship.

  • Support: Being in a supportive relationship is important for any couple, but in marriage, couples come to rely on each other for emotional and practical support. In marriage, couples can know that they can always count on each other in times of need. It's easy to lose oneself in life as your career advances and kids become involved. Your partner may begin to feel neglected or feel like they are "just a wife", "just a manager" or "just a mom" and it is your job to support your partner to make them know that they are so much more than their titles.

  • Compromise: Compromising is essential for any relationship, but it becomes even more important in marriage. In marriage, couples must learn to find a balance between their needs and wants in order to make the relationship work. If there is constant struggle between you and your partner between what is a want and what is a need, there may be some conflict as your priorities may different. It's important to communicate and openly discuss what is important to each of you and vocalize your priorities as a couple so you are on the same page.

No matter how many years a couple has been together, there is always something new to learn about each other. Marriage is a beautiful commitment that can bring many joys, but also many challenges.

By understanding the differences between love in dating and love in marriage, couples can be better prepared for the challenges that come with marriage and grow together. Another great thing to do for any relationship is to learn your love languages. There are 5 different types. Google search and take the 5 Love Languages quiz to see how you and your partner can best be loved.

Finally, the last difference between love in dating and love in marriage is that in marriage, love becomes more of a choice. In dating, couples often feel a strong connection that can’t be broken no matter what. But in marriage, couples have to actively choose to love each other every day. This can be a challenge, but it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences a couple can have.

So, the next time someone asks you “how’s married life?”, you can tell them that while your love is still the same, the way you express it has changed. You’ve gone from grand gestures to small acts of kindness, and from dreaming about the future to living in the present. Love in marriage may be different, but it’s still just as meaningful as love in dating.

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