Marriage Lessons: Year 1
We're officially no longer newlyweds! We're washed up! The resident Old Married Couple! Nah....just kidding! My husband and I are, however, much wiser and better as individuals and in our relationship as a result of this incredible union. We were not marriage idealists with notions of perfect love nests and blissful snuggles, but I can assure you I learned much more than I thought I could this year. I'm a strong believer that self-reflection is important, and because my marriage sits easily on top of the most important things in my life, thinking back on the last 365 days was an obvious choice for me. Keeping in mind that every relationship is different, let's jump into some of the lessons I learned in my first year of marriage to my best friend!
Not Everyone Has a Honeymoon Phase.
We didn't. Like. At all. We had our literal honeymoon week, then almost immediately moved into the Adjustment Phase. Of course, we are still happy, satisfied and fulfilled in our marriage, but in our first year, we have undergone several of the most stressful life events you can endure. The real world of moving, financial adjustment, home-making, hard deaths in the family, imperfection realization and puppy parenting all hit us within a couple of months of our "I do's". We still had our fair share of snuggles on the couch, lazy Saturday mornings, and mimosas for no reason. So it was not at all a hardship in our relationship as those fights and tough decisions helped us grow tremendously!
Speaking of fighting...
...we had to learn how to do it...properly. With the heavier and life-changing decisions that usually accompany marriage, comes differing opinions and arguments. Effective communication is one of the greatest assets in our arsenal and we do our best to employ that at every turn. I have to remember that I'm not arguing with my girlfriends. I'm not negotiating a business deal. Getting my way is not the ultimate goal (see, selfishness below). Learning how each other operates during times of stress and, more importantly, what the other person needs to be able to communicate and arrive at a compromise or conclusion is THE most important lesson I've learned.
Marriage Is Like Dating, But Not Really.
So much has remained the same between Tim and I. We still like the same sports teams, laugh and tell the same type of jokes. We have the same hobbies and interests, and we still love to stuff our faces with breakfast foods and tacos (seriously, bacon and french toast are everything). But it is only on the surface that things have remained the same. Contrary to our dating mentality, we are each other's number one priority. We put each other above our friends, families and selfish habits, as we committed to be one another's partners, equals.
Selfishness Was The Biggest Obstacle.
For my entire adult life, I was used to doing for myself. Making my own decisions, without worry of how they would effect anyone else. So the transition to thinking through my actions and plans as it relates to Tim was a tough adjustment. Nearly every fight, argument and tiff between Tim and I was a result of selfishness, at its core. Myself being the oldest child and Tim being the only, our strong opinions and desire to constantly be right led us to many crossroads. And what I learned is that no matter how large or small, taking the time stop and listen to your partner and to be considerate of their feelings, desires and point of view was critical for us.
You Can Have Your Independence and Husband/Wife, Too.
I was one of those people whose concern with being married is that I will lose my independence and control of what is "mine". And I did! No longer did I have "mine". But what I gained was the certainty and assurance in what is ours. Within my marriage, I feel empowered and supported to do whatever I want to do. To change careers, move cities, start a new project, drop a new project, sit in my PJs on a Saturday morning and do nothing but drink coffee. My confidence has soared not because Tim was needed to complete me, but because he lifts me higher than I could ever lift myself.
It Really Is The Hardest and Most Rewarding Work.
I know. This one is played and overstated. But it is the most true. Marriage is hard. This ish is most certainly not for the faint of heart. There should be signs all the way to the alter that force you to second guess yourself because no one quite tells you how difficult it really is. It can be gritty, loud and tear-filled. But what you receive in return...what you experience when climbing out of the valleys of every fight and sleepless night is the most comforting and gratifying feat. To have someone love you above all else, to have someone always in your corner, to have someone who will carry you when you just don't have the strength to walk anymore and to be that to someone else is the greatest feeling in the world.
It's still hard to believe we have been doing this marriage thing for an entire year! So much has changed, yet so much has remained the same. I'm always interested to know what others have learned! Share your lessons and marriage experiences in the comments below!
Cheers to the rest of forever!
Love Loudly. Live Loudly.