What I Learned My First Year of Marriage

I have a lot of readers who visit this page regarding posts around marriage, relationships, and what I hope comes across as honesty— even if it can be brutal. I should precede this post by saying I truly love marriage and I love my marriage, but that does not mean I am exempt from learning. If I am being completely honest, marriage is -like- 99.99999% learning— no one is a professional.

I have heard 193754 times that “the first year of marriage was the hardest” and while I disagree with that statement in its entirety, it can be challenging. Would you believe me if I said challenges are not always bad? Because they aren’t. Challenges can merely mean something that pushes you outside of what you are used to or familiar with, which in turn causes growth. For a successful partnership, I would encourage you to grow together— even when it is hard, even when you have 0 patience, even when you are miles apart.

I feel like I have heard so many cheesy sayings and tips like:

  • “Never stop dating!”
  • “Never go to bed angry.”
  • “Love each other like you love yourself.”
  • “For better or for worse.”
  • “Wait to have kids until the time is right.”
  • etc.

Y’all, it is SO much MORE than that. The process of learning and growing together is beautiful and abstract; progression is not linear.

With all of that being said, I want to share what I’ve learned and steps I have taken to lay a good foundation for the rest of our years. Most of what I will share is particular to my experience. I don’t want to speak for my husband because experiences can be different from person to person. Yay for individuality! I also feel like some of what I have learned has been entirely shocking.

Your space is now our space

| I had no idea how much a creature of habit I was, most of which were formed in college. I was so incredibly used to MY dorm room, MY bed, MY desk, MY closet, MY snacks— everything had a place and each place was specifically designated by me. I felt so discombobulated and out of place when I first moved into our new home. We didn’t live together prior to the wedding and in addition to organizing my stuff, I had to organize and put away our wedding gifts. I suddenly shared ALL of my space with someone and most days we did 95% of our tasks together. It took me a solid 9 months before I had a “rest” space. I was so used to my room at my parents or my dorm room where there was so much familiarity and comfort that when my environment changed, I really struggled. I had put so much pressure on myself to organize everything and constantly stay busy— I had to learn to chill. Eventually we fell into a routine and I had released the pressure I put on myself, making a world of difference in my days. |

Accept help

| I cannot even count the amount of times my husband tried to help me early on and I flat out rejected it. Help with dishes, clothes, cleaning, yard work, grocery shopping— all of the things I felt like were (stereotypically) my responsibility. I would even get mad. Was I not competent? Did he feel I wasn’t doing enough? Questions and assumptions cycled through my head until I finally quit putting up a fight…and it was the best thing I could have done. I would mention to friends and family how my husband would basically drive me crazy (sorry, babe!) constantly offering his help. Their response? “Well, let him!” And every time I was like, “but you don’t understand! This is what I have been preparing for since I was 16!” I had this grand ideology of what life would be like as a wife— totally unrealistic and unobtainable for our lifestyle. I found myself getting overwhelmed time and time again until I finally realized there is NOTHING wrong with a helping husband. If anything, it is super healthy to split the responsibility of the house and yard work. Things get done faster which allows for more time doing the fun stuff. |

Grace is more important than forgiveness.

| Grace. A word I never thought would be used in marriage. I had never heard it used in this context until a sweet family member gifted me and my husband a series of marriage seminar CDs from a conference they had gone to. This was roughly 6 months into marriage, okay. The newlywed bliss was real, and I guess you could say there was no reason to listen to them at that time but I am a firm believer in prevention verses damage control. However, I heard this notion of grace and what that meant in your marriage. Grace is forgiveness without consequences…and you cannot have consequences for your spouse every time an act requires forgiveness.

Embrace the chaos

| I would be lying to y’all if I portrayed this transition period as anything other than completely chaotic. There are SO many changes taking place and routines being created that nothing feels mundane or “normal”. Between figuring out which family to spend the holidays with, learning how to manage 2 different friend groups, learning leisure routines, and balancing alone time— you can really find that each day can be drastically different. But don’t fight it. This is truly one of the more beautiful aspects of the journey. I found myself reflecting each month, then again at 6 months, and now I am just a week shy of 1 year…WOW at the change and growth. Growth happens so often that when you do take the time to reflect, you can be astounded at how much you have been through together. |

Don’t assign your spouse thoughts

| The concept of “assigning thoughts” was so foreign to me, but it is advice that I wish I had known sooner. Basically, just because I perceive and feel a situation one way, in no way means that is how my spouse perceived it. I cannot assign to them thoughts or feelings they may not have had. This does nothing but act as a catalyst in your relationship because 9/10 times, your assigned thoughts are negative. |

Seek advice anywhere you can

| I seek marriage advice regardless of the state of my marriage. I would rather equip myself with tips and knowledge prior to potential disaster verses in the midst of it. I listen to podcasts, I ask questions to other married couples, I find encouraging music, I read books, etc. I do whatever I can, whenever I can to gain perspective. Which reminds me, I have a post coming up about my favorite podcasts and books! Stay tuned! |

The shift from needing your parents to needing your spouse is gradual

| This one is really hard to explain. I am super close to my parents, like call 2-3-4 times a day close. I am even likely to see them at least 4 times a week. BUT, after getting married I had to WORK at trusting my husband in all of the ways I trusted my parents. This might seem crazy to some but I am also sure some of you girls know what I am talking about. There was no greater fear of mine than to be sick away from my mom. After all, my mom knew how to take care of me and would never judge me no matter how pitiful I became. Flat tire? Well, dad has always been there for me on that one so instinctively I call him when trouble arises. I had to stop this cycle. My husband was my trustworthy protector now. It was just me and him and whatever crazy curve ball life threw at us. I can’t make this up…within ONE MONTH of being married we BOTH had the stomach bug and I had a flat. Well played, God…well played. |

You may think you love your spouse now…

| You may think you love your spouse now, or when you’re dating or engaged but the act of “loving” takes on a whole deeper meaning as you progress in your marriage. There is this sense of longing and connection that is almost unexplainable. When you see someone in all aspects of life— sick, mad, exhausted, frustrated, happy, giddy, hangry, etc— you realize just how unconditional your feelings can be. You learn each other in ways you didn’t even realize existed…and it is seemingly the most exciting part of the journey.|

They say the first year of marriage sets the tone for the rest of your lives together. I truly hope this is one of the truer sayings. Hubs, if you’re reading this, thank you for this past year and here’s to many more!

With love, Elizabeth.

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