Happily ever after doesn’t end with the grand finale of your wedding day.

Sure, you spend months or years planning the big day—it’s a lot of build-up to this romantic, exciting moment. And you should relish it. It’s fun and intense and nerve-wracking and filled with lots of love. It’s an amazing time in your life.

But once the wedding and honeymoon are over, it is only just the beginning for a couple—the beginning of so much more. More love, more growth, more compromise, more commitment, more strength, more dedication.

My husband and I have only been married five years. We, by no means, are professionals at this yet. Maybe we never will be.

But we have learned a thing or two along the way. We have failed, we have succeeded, we have made mistakes and we have grown closer than I ever imagined possible.

And now as our siblings are getting married and starting their families, we feel like experienced love-marriage-parenting gurus (okay, not quite, but we’ll pretend) and it’s nice to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned along this journey of marriage and parenting.

Because there is quite the learning curve when you’re meshing two lives together, but that quickly intensifies when you decide to mesh even more (cute little) lives in with yours.

Here are 8 things I’ve learned along the way:

1. You love each other now. But that love will grow times a million.

It’s pretty crazy to think that—as much as you love your fiancé now—you will truly love them deeper and deeper as time goes on. After supporting each other through real struggles and being there for one another no matter what, it creates a bond unlike any other.

You will grow and mature as a couple, but you’ll also grow and mature as individuals, too. And you’ll be cheering each other on and beaming with pride every step of the way.

Part of the magic in growing older together, I guess. ✨

2. All your other emotions will intensify, too.

That cutie who you will love more and more, will also annoy you more, drive you crazy at times, and will frustrate you like no one else can. It’s all part of the package of living with someone, making decisions together, being around each other a lot and (if you start a family together) learning how to be a parenting team. (They’re lucky they’re cute.)

3. Laughter will solve 98% of your problems.

Okay, this statistic might not be 100% accurate—BUT, most married couples will tell you that it has to be close, right? So, my best piece of marriage advice would be—keep all those inside jokes tucked in a very safe space of your brain and be ready to unleash them during arguments or disagreements. A good, solid joke you two share together will lighten the mood 9 times out of 10. ?

4. Becoming parents together is a beautiful gift.

I can only speak from my experience in saying that deciding to start a family together—because we really wanted to and were called to—has been the most rewarding decision I have ever made in my life. Becoming my husband’s wife was an honor. Becoming my husband’s co-parent has been such a privilege.

Figuring out how to get a baby to sleep together, having him support me as a newly breastfeeding mom, laughing over baby poop getting everywhere—these moments are intense and hilarious and so, so special because they belong to just your little family. It’s amazing.

5. Watching your partner grow into their role as parent is awesome.

I knew my husband would be a great dad. He’s fun and hilarious and extremely kind and generous. He is passionate, intense and very sweet. He has all the qualities a great father needs.

But then actually watching it all happen and unfold over the last four years of being pregnant and having children, has been a joy. I am so insanely proud of the man I get to call my husband and so much of that is because he truly rocks fatherhood. ?

6. You’re going to go through so much together. And you’ll be an amazing team.

Pregnancy. Labor. Birth. Newborn life. Postpartum body insecurities. Extreme exhaustion. Paying bills. Toddler tantrums. Getting on the same page about discipline. Buying a house. Divvying up tasks around the house. Sharing the load of working and parenting and never-ending to-do lists.

There’s a lot of intensity ahead, but you guys will be a great team together. With communication, grace and love—you’ll figure it all out.

7. There are so many fun adventures ahead of you.

Marriage is fun! Parenting together is fun!

It really, really is. My husband has become my best friend, biggest cheerleader and closest confidant. We have fun with each other whether we’re vegging out on the couch or out on a fancy date.

We fight, but we always make up quickly. We hug and kiss and show affection whenever we can. We prioritize our marriage in this wild ride of parenting, and while it’s not always easy—it is always worth it.

8. Choose each other, every day.

Marriage is a choice you make every single day. You can’t be passive about it. Be intentional about choosing to strengthen your relationship each day you wake up with the privilege of getting to love one another.

Newlyweds—it’s all happening. Soak it up. Enjoy every moment.

Your wedding day is just the start of your “happily ever after”—and there’s so much fun to be had from there. You’ve got this. ?