I remember thinking, shortly after I got married, that I would keep track of all the lessons I learned along the way to share when my first wedding anniversary rolled around. I have to say that I am surprised at how fast a year went. It seemed like planning the wedding and the days and months leading up to it dragged on, but after I became a Mrs. the time just zipped away. I remember writing about my wedding day and now, almost one year later, I’m writing about my first anniversary. As May 24, 2015 approaches, here’s what I learned during my first year of marriage:
1. Marriage is not that hard. Everything I’ve read says the first year of marriage is the hardest. I never really believed this to begin with. Maybe its because we lived together before we got married, or that we accomplished a lot of the “hard things” before we tied the knot (moving from one major city to another, buying our first home and not to mention planning a wedding), but the first year seemed like smooth sailing. I feel like all relationships have their ups and downs, tough moments and easy ones and being married doesn’t make that any harder or easier.
However, we live in a culture of instant gratification. If something isn’t working, we buy a new one. If something is boring, we click on the next thing and if something is outdated, we upgrade. If marriage is viewed the same way, then yes, marriage is really hard, but if marriage is viewed as something special and worth working on, then it’s pretty easy. Put the right amount of effort, time and work into your marriage and it should get better each year (like a fine wine or George Clooney).
2. Maintain your identity. This was a big one for me. I always knew I wanted to change my last name when I got married and I am so happy I did, but right before the big day I had a bit of an identity crisis. I had identified myself with a certain name, a name that was on my degree, my college diploma and my resume. I felt like I was starting over with this new name and trying to figure out who I was as a wife.
What I learned is that I am still me, and although I am a wife, that is not all that I am. I make sure to take time to do things for myself like going to the spa, or working on my blog or my business. If you invest all you are into being a wife, it is easy to get disappointed when your husband is off doing something that fulfills who he is as a person. Both husband and wife need to have hobbies and interests apart from each other and fulfillment cannot just come from the marriage.
3. Most things can be solved by laughing. I’m half Mediterranean. I can go from zero to a hundred before my sweet husband even has a chance to blink. My husband, on the other hand, is slow to anger and reluctant to say what is on his mind in an argument, but we still argue. Sometimes we can get into heated debates and other times after a long, tiring day we can pick a fight over something stupid. There are moments where we can become so stressed out that tears or anger seem like the only option. Then one of us will say or do something dumb to lighten the mood and we will both burst into laughter.
I learned a long time ago, that nitpicking over an unwashed dish or stupid comment will not matter five years from now. When you look back on your marriage you don’t want to think you wasted time over trivial things like that. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a fight, it can be hard to see the way out. Try making the other person laugh. It will quickly bring you back to reality and remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
4. Take care of your spouse. When you’re younger you have your parents to take care of you and when you’re married you should be able to rely on your spouse to fulfill that role. Now I know a lot of wives who say, “I’m not his mother” and of course, I don’t mean mother your husband (no matter how babyish he can get). I just mean that no matter how “adult” we are, none of us truly know what the heck we are doing and its nice to have a partner that has our back.
Taking care of your spouse can be as simple as reminding them of an appointment or picking up their favourite treat to cheer them and as complex as being their shoulder to cry on or source of advice. Taking care of your spouse shows that you care about them and lets them know that they can always count on you.
5. Don’t get comfortable. A few months ago, Eva Mendes (the unmarried expert on marriage) said that wearing sweatpants leads to divorce. While I don’t believe this to be true (at all), I think I get what she was trying to say. It is important, no matter how many years you have been with your spouse, even though they’ve seen you at your worst, even though you are the most comfortable roommates, that you remember to treat them like its your first date.
Dress up for date night, even if its something as small as putting on some lipstick or cute shoes. Make time for date night. Never stop dating each other. Try new things together. Recently, my husband has started training me at the gym. This has added a whole new level of trust and teamwork to our marriage. Send your spouse a “thinking of you” text or buy your wife flowers “just because.”
It’s amazing to be so comfortable around your spouse that you feel safest with them, but also remember what made them fall in love with you and never lose sight of that. Make sure to make them feel important and put effort into your relationship.
Like any relationship, marriage can be like a roller coaster ride. There are times when you are slowly and steadily climbing along, times when you feel like you’re racing through loops too fast and times you are having so much fun you never want the ride to end.
Marriage is an adventure, just like dating. However, I’m glad that its not a solo mission. There is no other person I could ever imagine being on this adventure with then my husband, Mark. I credit him with teaching me a lot about myself, life and this whole marriage thing.
What has marriage taught you?