Being married a year has been an adventure like no other. And the best part is this one lasts a lifetime. With the ups and downs, the whirlwinds of different emotions and day to day changes and challenges – it’s sometimes hard to believe so many things can happen in a year, and we have how many to go? There are times when it seems like time itself is moving so slow, and other times where it goes by way too fast.
And then I blink, and think back just short of a few years ago when my husband wasn’t even a part of my life yet – I’m still amazed today this is where I am, with the most amazing man I wished and dreamed for in the past.
In a year, I would be lying if I said nothing much has changed. Now if you asked me if being married feels any different – no, it doesn’t. But even with that, there has still been a lot of growing taking place between us as a couple, and now a married couple. Things I have had to take into account more often, or into consideration more than I did before. And I want to inform you on the 9 lessons I learned in my first year of being married, in hopes to shed some light on what to expect for engaged or newlywed couples.
9 Lessons I Learned In My First Year Of Being Married
1 | Love is a choice, not a feeling
This I learned and now understand ten folds since being married. Love isn’t something you gain effortlessly, it is not a spark or the romance within your relationship. I think everyone anticipates entering a marriage thinking it will last a lifetime on its own. Let’s be real: romance fades, the honeymoon phase dwindles, the spark you once had for one another will dissolve – all of that thin layer ‘what society brainwashes you into thinking a relationship consists of‘ crap will diminish, if you allow it.
Far too many believe that once that fiery passion is gone, it means you do not Love that person anymore, or feel Love for the other. Because all of that fairy tale stuff should naturally last forever if you truly Love someone, right? You’re not wrong, but you’re not right, either.
Love is a choice. To Love is a choice. That fiery passion in the beginning? You chose that with someone, which took your effort in creating (even if it didn’t feel that way). And to continue that fiery passion? You have the choice to make that effort continue. You have a choice to make that commitment to Love, not be controlled by your ever-changing feelings.
So, do I feel the romance, that passion, and spark every moment since being married? Hold your breath when I say this, but no. Is that something we have to choose to continue throughout our commitment? Yes. I married my husband. I made that commitment and chose to honor and Love him, knowing all of the sappy storybook ‘feelings‘ of Love would take mutual effort to continue from both of us.
2 | Communication all the way
Simply this. If you don’t have it, or have enough of it – you’re in a trickle down slope to the negatives, my friend. Yes, you are still one person in this game of life, but you also made the choice to be one with someone else. It’s not just about you anymore.
In marriage, you are now devoted to giving one another the respect you each deserve. This does not mean playing the mind reading or stealthy secrecy games. If you are married, you have rationally accepted being a mature adult, and already be at a point where you want to give your partner the same respect you demand for yourself. It should come easy being open and honest about your feelings, choices, beliefs, decisions, wants, desires and doubts. Even if your partner may not agree or commend you every time.
Another level of communication is the courtesy factor. Now that I am married, I have learned that it’s important to not only communicate of that listed above, but also in terms of our daily routines. My husband and I have different schedules, so it’s just as important to factor in communication about plans, timing, future endeavors, and conflict of interests. Like I said, it’s a courtesy – it’s simply my wanting to give my husband respect. If you haven’t been receiving or implementing that in your relationship, engagement or marriage by now – start learning it.
3 | Support each other’s goals/dreams
This cannot be stressed enough. While this plays a role in the communication factor, it is also the duty of every spouse to always be supportive of one another. Before my husband and I got married, we spent plenty of time talking about our personal goals and dreams in life. If there was ever really something I knew beforehand that I could never accept as far as his dreams/goals – we wouldn’t be married today. Because, why am I going to hold him back from something he wants out of life?
But often times dreams and goals are not planned, and can erupt at any time – like my random will to become a blogger and entrepreneur. My husband could have easily said, ‘Hell no, in your dreams, that will never happen, you are never going to quit your job for something that doesn’t even pay off right away‘. But he didn’t. He wanted this for me as much as I did – he listened to me, he empathized along with me, and was honest about our ability to being a one person household income. We discussed the pros and cons, how this would affect our future, and even planned out a backup. And with much compromise, I was able to start my dream earlier than we had planned.
And the same goes for my husband. His dream, ultimately, is to become the chief of police. Although he says he may not get to that point before his chance to retire – his goal is to always move up in the line of duty. And I knew this long before we got married. Is the whole police officer ordeal stressful in my shoes? Of course it is – I think about it everyday – but it doesn’t change the fact that this is what he wants for himself. Would I ever stop him from pursuing that dream? No.
Granted, there is always the right and wrong time for everything. And it is up to your communication, mutual support and compromise as a team to make each other’s dreams a reality.
4 | It’s about spoken and unspoken compromise
Do my husband and I want the same thing all the time? No. Though we have so many mutual interests, beliefs, opinions and goals in our lives together – there are some things that pop up that require compromise. Can I think of any at the top of my head at this very moment? No, which I find a good thing, because that means we are naturally capable of compromise without causing conflict. We seem to understand each other very well at this point, and have the utmost respect for each other’s needs.
The only thing you can hope is that compromise somehow turns into this subliminal spin off of, ‘well he let me have this, so I’ll let him do that‘, which I know happens often in our household. If I made dinner, my husband will usually let me pick what show or movie we watch, or he will do the dishes without me even lifting a finger. Should this just be called doing something for each other out of Love? Sure, but the difference is this doesn’t happen all the time.
I know I can’t get what I want all the time (which my husband would joke differently), and he knows he can’t get exactly what he wants every time, either. Yet, there are just some things that need to be let go all together. If my husband insists on wearing that hideous tie – whatever, he likes it – I let him be. And vice versa.
Compromise can be needed within a wide range – such as what is on the menu for dinner, who cooks, who cleans, how you raise the baby, or financial decisions. But first, let me go into saying this gently before I move on: if there is something that you would not ever compromise (whatever that is) with no exceptions – you need to get that out in the open. For example, I told my husband before we got married, very early on in our relationship, that I was firm in my beliefs of being the sole caretaker of my future children. Meaning, I did not believe in daycare and I wanted the choice to stay home while raising a child. With no exceptions – if he could not agree upon that, we either would not be having children or we wouldn’t be continuing the relationship.
5 | Embrace every form of intimacy
It’s not just sex anymore. Yeah, you read me right. Do I only see intimacy pertaining to just sex? No, I realized growing up that wasn’t the only way to see it. And if I have to be frank: I feel closest with my husband when we are simply alone, free of distraction (phones and technology out of the way), communicating on a deeper level, listening to one another, connecting with our words and being in tune to each other’s thoughts and emotions.
My husband will laugh when he reads that – because I’m sure he, along with many other men will say, ‘Yeah, that sounds like sex to me!’ Still today men will say the only form of intimacy they know is simply sex, or anything in relation to that. That is why a lot of men will claim, ‘I haven’t been intimate with my wife in over 6 months!‘ Meaning, sex. Really? Probably because you haven’t been in tune with the other forms of intimacy your spouse is aching for.
Intimacy is so much more than physical. It is also the emotional connection with someone on a level of friendship and companionship that you cannot leave out. And in marriage, it’s time to embrace the fact that intimacy is more than just sex. Because there will come a time where sex becomes infrequent – and you better hope to God you chose to Love someone deeper than for the expectation of sex.
It is now about making time alone together without your phone in hand, falling asleep holding one another, cooking together or having a quaint dinner table meal together, getting the kids to bed early in order to spend the rest of the night together, sharing laughs or playing a game together, doing something together you both enjoy, or reflecting on your marriage or wedding day.
6 | Constantly work as a team
Literally. The idea is to work along with your spouse, not against them. Sure, there are many different strengths in one another. I can’t keep a plant alive to save my own life, and my husband – well, bless his heart – isn’t exactly up to par in the cooking department. Do we hold those differences against each other? No. So as a team it is merely understood that he is good at taking care of the yard and I making meals. Do we help each other out? Absolutely.
But maybe to some that isn’t their definition of ‘working as a team’ in a relationship. Working as a team could be in terms of the financial income and paying off the bills, or when it comes down to completing a big home improvement project together instead of paying someone to do it. Those matters require teamwork just the same. And while teamwork might be someone’s idea of simply ‘being able to work together to get something done‘, it also means being supportive when someone isn’t as advanced or knowledgeable in something as the other or at times taking one for the team – like in sports.
The idea is there should be no tit-for-tat in your marriage, or the hope for failure of your spouse – ever. Your goal for the rest of your lives together is to constantly help and build one another up, no matter what.
7 | Refrain from ‘fixing‘ your spouse
In continuation to building up, supporting and helping your spouse, this does not mean with the intent to fix the wrong. Before you got married, if there were things about your spouse you couldn’t withstand, and you thought, ‘that’ll change when we get married, I’ll make sure of that‘ – you have just dug yourself a deeper hole for disaster.
Whether its the way he drives, how he chews his food or that he immediately comes home from work and ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’s it‘ with a beer (if you don’t know what that means, please look that one up). Guess what? There are going to be things that pop up later that will bother you, because people change.
Are there things my husband does that bother me at times? You bet. But do I have the mindset of trying to change him of what it is he does? No, because that would be wrong of me knowing there are probably things he feels the same way about me. I know that I suffer from some form of Misophonia – not just from my husband particularly, but from anyone and everyone who chews, slurps and smacks with their mouth open or swishes food around in their mouth while eating. So for me, there’s no escape. Is that my husband’s problem? Maybe slightly, if he wasn’t raised to chew with his mouth closed. But is it my job to change that? No, the disorder is entirely my own problem to endure.
So if there is absolutely something that bothers you about your spouse, instead of trying to ‘fix’ the problem – your best bet is to utilize lesson #2 (communication). Let your spouse know what is particularly bothersome, without the intent for change.
7.2 | Know what unconditional Love truly means
Granted, you wouldn’t be human if nothing bothered you to some extent, but it shouldn’t change what makes you Love your spouse in the first place. Now the term ‘unconditional love‘ comes into play. And brace yourselves, folks, because it takes a lot of will to have and understand unconditional Love for many. It’s basically like this: you married them; you chose to accept and Love them for all of who they are now and forever. That goes for the changes, too.
Let’s say you packed on some weight from having a baby. That is and should be expected, as much as it is normal. And since the birth, your husband has been constantly hinting at when you are going to start working out. Coming from a woman’s perspective, here is what I know would be going through my head if that were my husband in the first few months of giving birth:
‘Are you f****** kidding me? I carried all this weight for nine months, giving up foods I couldn’t eat, to endure the pain of pushing a beach ball out of a 4-inch wide tube, to continue from that pain for months thereafter while my insides heal, as I am having to tend to a baby up crying, hungry, pooping and needing my attention every two hours, to loathing in self hate of how I currently feel and look, not having showered and hardly eaten a full meal in two days, can barely get a good night sleep since going into labor (while you stuffed a pizza in your mouth that night, might I add), we’re a month in and you’re already trying to have sex with me when our doctor says to wait 3-4, while I just simply want to gorge myself in chocolate with a greasy cheesy hamburger and a bottle of wine – and right now the only thing you’re pretending not to imply is when I am going to get back to pre-baby weight? And here, not once did I bat an eye on how much weight you gained during your post-op and year long rehab for your Achilles. Where’s your unconditional Love, dearest husband???’
Could the husband only be trying to be supportive and helpful towards the wife’s overall health? Sure, but does it come off seeming like that? No – the wife just had a baby. A baby that both made the choice to create in terms of their Love for one another.
So if I have learned anything in a year: having unconditional Love means to be supportive of change without conditions or limitations. It is the form of Love that is unchanging and has no bounds, but again as mentioned before – you have to choose to Love unconditionally, each and every day.
8 | Pick your battles
Couples fight. They argue, disagree and blow off steam onto one another. But think back on some of the arguments you had, like the time you fought to the death about leaving dirty clothes on the floor that nearly ended your relationship. Ask yourself this now: was it worth fighting over?
As a married couple, and as hard as you are trying the whole ‘being supportive, working as a team, compromise and communicating’ thing – some battles are just unavoidable, while others – meh, so what? So he left the cheese on the counter overnight – big whoop. You’re angry for two seconds – I mean, it is cheese, don’t get me wrong – but is it worth stirring the pot and creating tension? No – he’s only human, and people make mistakes. But that nasty comment he made under his breath about how you make more money than him – now there’s something to confront.
Are you catching my drift? There are plenty of things I would have added to the list as far as worth arguing over before we got married. And then suddenly, when the wedding bells receded, it was as if those minuscule things that set me off before I could care less about now. They just go in one ear and out the other – or right over my shoulder. But if you don’t have it as easy as I, you may need to start listing out the things that set you both off, and go through and choose which ones would ultimately affect your future as a healthy couple – married, or not.
9 | There IS a right time for a baby
So, I’m beside myself, in terms of what I believe is the right time to starting a family. And I’ve witnessed both ends of the extreme on this topic. Those who spend years, thousands of dollars and multiple failed attempts for a baby, those in a seemingly continuous rocky place in their marriage yet still trying, and then those who have been together and married shorter than the span of a couple years and are already starting a family.
I’ll never forget what threw me off completely when my husband would say, ‘Well, she is in her thirties, so…’
To me, the whole ticking time bomb fertility and age ordeal is a load of crock. There are those in their early twenties who can’t even get pregnant, then there are forty year olds who can. I remember responding to my husband with, ‘And that’s solely a good enough reason to start? So, you can honestly say that if I was 30 years old right now, married to you for one year, being together for four – YOU would be thinking differently as to starting a family right this moment?’[Silence] He was now wedged between a rock and a hard place on that one.
Being married a year, it has made me realize the truth to there being a right time for a baby. That yes, you should be financially stable, have your ducks in a row, discussing the ins and outs of raising, and have gone into the idea with enough emotional preparation for change and sacrifice – but ultimately that you have put the very sole most important aspect of your life first and foremost…
Because it was then my husband finally spoke, as he said, ‘I just want you all to myself for a while…’
Which thereafter had me internally answer every underlying question I had:
…Would I risk my marriage for a baby, just because I am in my thirties? No, our marriage is the most important.
…Would I risk my marriage for a baby, just because people keep saying we should start trying right out the gate (because, you know, it’s hard for some people nowadays)? No, our marriage comes first.
…Would I risk my marriage for a baby, because we could get by financially? No, I don’t want to put our marriage in jeopardy.
…Would I risk my marriage for a baby, just because everyone else in my inner and outer circle of friendships are having or trying for babies? No, our marriage comes first.
…Would I risk my marriage for a baby, just to pay thousands and thousands of dollars with years of emotional investment for continuing negative results? No, if that’s God’s plan, and we want a baby – there’s always adoption.
As selfish as it sounds, I want more time with just my husband, and to slowly build our marriage up and off the ground in being able to fully support having a family. And then the right time will come along.
In reflection, there is a lot to learn in your first year or marriage – some things not quite the same as simply being in a relationship. But I think the portion of marriage that newlyweds forget, or fail to take note is that growing into a marriage takes time – it’s not as easy looking back on four years being together and saying ‘we’re exactly the same as we were four years ago’, because ultimately – it won’t be the same years from now. Marriage is making and taking the time to learn how to Love deeper, as one, and accepting the Love we choose. Here is the most uplifting marriage advice you can start applying with your spouse for a healthier marriage.
What have you learned in your first year of marriage?