When you get engaged, even up to the first few weeks after marriage, you will have countless people tell you how hard the first year of marriage is/can be.
“You’re going to learn so much!” they will say.
And they aren’t wrong.
However, as Wes and I looked back at this past year, we both agreed that we honestly thought this past year was pretty easy. So if the first year of marriage is supposed to be the hardest (which I am convinced is a myth) then I say bring on forever! There are a few things that I wish people would have told us before we got married though.
1. Even on the bad days, you will still LOVE waking up next to that person you call your spouse.
365 days later and I still roll over and stare at my husband, rooster fluffed hair, drool on the pillow, just like an obsessed mother staring at her newborn and think, “Wow, I am the luckiest person in the world.” Even on the mornings where we may have both been in a bad mood the night before or been frustrated with each other, I just can’t stay that mad at him. He is just so darn cute.
2. Name changes are the most annoying, exciting thing to do.
For the husband, this one may not be that big of an issue, unless you’ve moved states (which we also did) then updating his license is included in this, because who wants to go sit at the DMV for two hours waiting to update your address and get a new license.
Aside from that though, as the wife, you will not only change your license, but you will now have to change every possible thing you own, need or want because you are no longer Miss Former Name, but now Mrs. Husband’s Wife.
This means you will update everything from social security cards, voter’s ID card, hospital information to that favorite name frame that you hung up on your door. Not to mention, for the rest of your life you will now be introduced as Mrs. ____________ instead of Miss ___________, as well as learn to sign said name (because if you don’t and you sign your former name instead of your new name and it’s an important document, then you will be sent back that document and forced to wait another 3 weeks before being able to update it because you have to explain you were recently married and that someone is not trying to steal your identity or make up a person and then prove this with a copy of your marriage license).
On the flip side, YOU ARE MRS. I MARRIED MY BEST FRIEND, and you get to introduce yourself as that for the rest of your life!
3. Being selfless is more fun than being selfish.
This may sound cheesy and ridiculous, but it is honestly true, maybe not always, but 90% of the time. Doting on your significant other is so much fun, am I right or am I right?
Doing their laundry, washing their dishes and cleaning up after them may not always be as much fun. In this past year though, I have learned that I actually enjoy packing my husband’s lunch, making the bed and making sure he has clean underwear to put on. Not saying I don’t enjoy a good pampering or girl’s night out when I’ve had a rough day, but many times on those bad days, I find it uplifting for me to go home and bake my best friend his favorite meal.
4. The first year of marriage is one of the best years of your life.
I’m not saying the first year of marriage isn’t going to be hard, because it is. You just merged your entire life, every part of you, the good, the bad, the ugly, with another person and will now be together for the rest of your life. That won’t be easy.
However, in my opinion, the first year of marriage is more fun, than “hard.” You get to do life with this person who you absolutely love and adore. You learn together, grow together, laugh together, cry together, fight together.
SO, HOW WAS THE FIRST YEAR?
“You just got the hardest year out of the way!” I can’t help but think, it really wasn’t that hard… But I think a big part of why Wes and I both thought this first year was rather easy, was because there were a lot of things people DID tell us. So even though we hadn’t experienced it yet, we were expecting to.
Had it not been for our marriage counseling with a beautiful, godly couple we admire and look up to, as well as some experience learned advice from a few couples much wiser than ourselves, I honestly don’t think our first year would have been as smooth as it was when the “hard” times came. So here’s what we were told:
1. You are selfish. Your spouse is selfish. You will learn just how truly selfish you are.
This one might be obvious, maybe not. You might think you’re a pretty selfless person.
Think again. In the first few months especially, I learned just how much I really cared about me, myself and I. Embarrassingly, A LOT. As much as you think you value your spouse’s opinion, thoughts, desires, wants and needs, you will see that you value yours a lot more and will learn how to compromise and value theirs equally, if not more.
2. You will fight. That is not a bad thing.
During our marriage counseling, we were told that in marriage we will obviously fight. What I am thankful for is that it was then explained that there is a healthy way to fight and we were shown what that looks like. Now, that’s not saying we were pros at this at the beginning because we were given this advice before hand, we still aren’t. Fighting isn’t fun. It isn’t desired. It is necessary though sometimes. We are still learning, but this piece of advice was greatly valued this past year.
*Side Tip: When there is a problem or when your hunny drives you absolutely crazy, tell your hunny. Not your momma, not your daddy, not your in-laws, not your friends.
YOUR HUNNY. (Thank you, Keisha, for this wise piece of advice.)
3. He can’t read your mind. Neither can she.
To this day, I tend to still forget this very important piece of advice. Starting out in marriage, this was something I, personally, greatly struggled with.
He should just know what I’m thinking at all times, right?
No. He shouldn’t and he won’t. Throw in pregnancy with this and you have a very exhausting first few months of marriage as emotional me expected my poor husband to know my every thought and want without me verbally telling him. Again, very grateful for this piece of advice that I try to remind myself of daily. Thankfully, I feel like I have made progress with this since month one of marriage.
4. Communication is not always easy, but it is key.
If you do not know your spouse’s love language(s), I highly suggest you take the time to learn them, understand them, frame them, whatever it is that will remind you of what they are. We were encouraged to do this by several people. I thought it good advice, however did not fully grasp the importance or implement the advice until about month 7 of marriage and wow. What a difference it made.
I’ll be the first to admit (my husband would politely not say anything, but I know he would very much agree) that I am quite bad at communicating. Not just with conflict, but with many things (Obviously, stated earlier). I was greatly encouraged by the reminder that communicating is NOT easy, but it is very important to a healthy relationship.
5. Joint bank accounts and finances are a pain in the butt.
People weren’t kidding when they told us this. Just like the name change, but less fun, combining your finances, opening new accounts and learning how credit works, was one of the least liked things about the first year of marriage and possibly the hardest thing we dealt with. Create a budget, stick to it, communicate. You can do it!
6. There is no correct life time frame for when you should do things.
As I’ve learned about pregnancy, everyone has an opinion about everything. The same goes in marriage, especially during the first year.
“Focus on only yourselves the first two years.”
“Have kids as soon as possible, while you’re still young.”
Buy a house, don’t buy a house, do this, do that. The list goes on and on.
Parents, friends, family, co-workers, everyone and their dog will tell you what you should or should not do in the first year of marriage and how to do or not do it. Simply put, you do you.
There is no set schedule of when you should buy a house, buy a car, make a career change, decide to have kids, etc.
7. You now have two families, two sets of friends, two of everything, but you and your spouse are one.
Before you’re married, when you have a decision to make whether it be what outfit to buy or how you should handle a situation, you go to your parents, your friends, those closest to you.
When you get married, you no longer need or should go to these people when making a decision. You and your sweetheart now need to learn to make these decisions together, as one. This is not to say that you can’t seek guidance from family and friends when making big decisions, but the problem is, they won’t live with the consequences, you and your spouse will.
8. You will not always like your spouse. You will always love him/her.
Marriage is not always rainbows and butterflies. It is not what movies and social media portray: the chocolates and flowers, intimate, romantic kitchen scenes, exquisite date days every night, happy go lucky 24/7. (It is sometimes, just not ALL times.)
Marriage is waking up next to your best friend for the rest of your life, it is coming home to a messy house sometimes and neither of you want to cook so you grab fast food and do nothing but sit on the couch that night watching reruns of The Office for the 12th time or fall asleep before 10. Marriage is shedding tears when you find out after 4 months of marriage you are expecting your first child and the look on your husband’s face is not pure excitement, but what looks like pure fear (He’s super excited now, it was just an initial shock for two days).
Marriage is laughing so hard because your husband came home from work and told you he ripped his pants (right down his butt) and proceeded to stay in them the whole day. Marriage is calling your spouse to tell them you were in a hit and run accident at 6 months pregnant and putting on a brave face until they arrive, only to burst into tears while they hold you.
Marriage is yelling something hateful at your spouse, sitting in complete silence for an hour, only to feel terrible about it and eventually apologize. Marriage is going to bed having argued for two hours about something with no resolution, but still telling the other you love them, not because you should, but because whole heartedly, you do.