We have (almost) made it!! On October 17, 2016, the hubby and I will be celebrating our first anniversary. What?! I almost can’t believe it. This year has been so good, yet it has brought with it a plethora of challenges as well.
Every couple’s first year of marriage looks different. I can confidently say that, for me, our first year of marriage definitely proved to be the hardest year of my life. The moment I said, “I do,” I vowed to be responsible for another adult human being. If you’re telling me that is not hard, I’m convinced you are either lying or delusional. Adult human beings (in many ways, even more so than child human beings) are messy, complicated, and selfish. So put two of them together and…?
This past year was NOT hard because learning to be Louis’ wife is difficult. Au contraire! Louis is aptly suited for me in ways I would not have even thought to pray for. He is not perfect, but he strives to encourage me, support me, lead me, challenge me, humor me, and love me with a devotion and ferocity that is uncontested. No, this past year was hard because learning to be anyone’s wife is difficult. Additionally, being a wife means being an adult, and it turns out that that isn’t so easy either. This past year, my husband and I have had to make some of the hardest decisions, experience the most transition, step into completely new roles and responsibilities, and attempt to serve and love selflessly in ways we never have before.
In other words, I have had a lot of growing and refining to do, and that didn’t come without its pangs. I had to reevaluate the way I communicate. I had to reconsider ways in which I cling to entitlement and expectation. I had to refocus in Whom I put my security and trust. I had to throw aside the lies that I allowed to set up residence in my heart and mind. And those things, my friend, are not easy. As a way of celebrating my anniversary, I want to revisit, share, and rejoice in some of the hard lessons I have learned these past 365(ish) days!
10 Hard Lessons I Have Learned in Year One
1) Having your spouse pick up on subtle hints may seem more romantic, but it just leaves you disappointed and your spouse confused.
This applies to everything from physical intimacy and lunch preferences to doing house chores and navigating new feelings. My husband is the total package, so if he is not a mind-reader, I can bet that yours isn’t either. It does not take away any sentimentality to simply say what you’re thinking so that you and your spouse are on the same page. Learning this has saved us so much miscommunication and heartache.
2) Marriage should not be a mission to mold your spouse to be more like you.
Part of the reason I fell in love with my husband is because of his quirks and the ways he is different from me. I have had to remind myself to not let the stressors of daily life make me forget the joy of having married someone different than me. It may not always be easy, but I don’t ever want my husband to be anyone but himself. Marriage is about unity, not uniformity.
3) Maintaining healthy friendships gives life to your marriage.
It is unrealistic to ask my husband to be everything I need all of the time. No one person can do that, not matter who they are. Having external friendships gives me a community of people who can give me perspective, provide a listening ear, and help me process. There may be a number of reasons why friendships are hard to find and/or maintain once you get married, but they are definitely worth the time and effort.
4) Do not wish this season of life away, even the hard parts.
It is easy to find myself saying things like, “once we are in a bigger apartment,” or “once we have more money,” or “once I am done with school.” I found myself feeling discontent and just wishing the next stage of life to get here, as if that’s where things would be easier and better. If you’re always looking a mile ahead, you’re going to miss what is right in front of you. You are never going to experience this season of life again. Don’t rush it. Take it all in, because once it is gone, you will never get it back.
5) Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s.
You cannot compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. I don’t know what someone’s marriage truly looks like behind closed doors or what they are walking through. Comparison is the thief of joy, always. I wrote more about learning this here!
6) Marriage means you have to be okay with the possibility of getting pregnant.
God created man in such a beautiful way that the by-product of physical intimacy is children. So, part of having sex once you are married is knowing that there is a possibility of getting pregnant, even if that is not on your timeline. Man-made manipulation is fallible and God works within his own perfect timeline. There is so much peace in knowing that children are a gift from God and trusting that He has control over when and/or if He chooses to bless you with them.
7) Don’t say “I’m fine” if you’re not.
When you’re married, you cannot compartmentalize you life. What I do and feel will always affect my husband. Choosing to hold back from him and not be honest simply allows consequences to build up until my emotions inevitably spill out. Once you are married, you don’t have to do life alone. So when my husband asks if I’m okay, that is my opportunity to let him in, because I know he is always for me and he wants to know me deeper. Don’t let insecurity, embarrassment, or fear influence you from speaking up when you are not fine.
8) There is never a “right time.”
As a type-A control freak, this one was hard to swallow. We can compile an organized, color-coded, 5 year plan, but it wouldn’t be any more productive than doodling on construction paper. Life is unpredictable and it is a better use of my time to learn how to handle the curveballs with grace rather than to try and devise a plan around them. I have realized that there will never be a period in my life when life is not messy, so sometimes the question I have to ask myself is, “why not now?”
9) Fiscal responsibility is not popular and it is not fun.
So this may seem like it should have been obvious, but it definitely was more challenging than I thought. Sticking to a budget and aggressively paying off school loans can be super sucky at times. It involves rarely eating out, eliminating clothes shopping, and often times limiting ourselves to free date ideas. It can sometimes feel as if I have to say “no” to anything fun. However, the discipline of working toward long-term goals and pursuing fiscal decision-making and responsibility together has actually served us well in our marriage.
10) You will get better at it.
I remember times when I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled until I had a headache and was out of tears because I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at understanding, serving, or loving my husband. I felt like miscommunication was inevitable and I was destined to get things wrong forever. Failure is a part of doing something new. Embrace it, learn from it, and never lose hope!
Perhaps you are only a few months into marriage, are engaged to be married, or you are hoping marriage is somewhere in your future. Maybe you have been married for decades. Wherever you find yourself, I hope this has been an encouragement to you. Marriages are a beautiful gift from God that are always worth fighting for, protecting, and CELEBRATING!
[I know that I still have SO much yet to learn, so I would love to hear from you! Comment below with some of the things you have learned throughout your marriage!]