I always joke with people that I'm full of marital wisdom when they ask how long I've been married. A marriage expert I am not. Especially only after a year of marital bliss.
With that being said, I do think I've learned a few teeny, tiny pearls of wisdom in this area, and I know that I'll continue to be a student of marriage for as long as my feet walk this earth.
Marriage is hard. Those words have been muttered and shared with me/us since we started our pre-marital counseling. I knew that it wasn't going to be a cake walk, but 9 out of 10 people who shared that statement also shared that it would be worth it. So with the vows said, homes joined, and lives woven together, we took the leap.
Marriage is fun! I've seen it where marriage is described as getting to have a slumber party with your best friend every night of the week, even on homework nights, and it's so true. Every day when I get off of work, I get to head home to my best friend and best dog. I love it.
Marriage is learning new things about yourself. I never knew that I'd love cooking for my husband as much as I do. A prize winning chef I am not, but I truly enjoy preparing meals for my little family more than I ever thought possible. I'm also learning more about my communication style and my sensitivity level. Our pastor shared with us that men are not mind readers. Word. It'd be a lot easier if they were. But alas, they are not and I'm trying to be more clear. Mean what I say, say what I mean, preferably before one or the both of us gets agitated and finding ourselves arguing over vacuuming when I was pretty sure "my look" explained that it was time to vacuum. (And, I'm not a slave driver who forces her husband to vacuum before you go calling the Husbands' Rights Coalition. He actually likes vacuuming and I despise it, so I dust and scrub and he hits the floors. Win, win.)
Marriage is learning new things about your spouse. A lot of new things. Sometimes the new things warm your heart. Some things make you go "hmm, that's interesting" and others make you go "what the monkey was that?!" And I write this with confidence as I KNOW that Tim would say the same so it's all good. Sometimes I even shock myself with the things I say or do. You just never truly stop learning the ins and outs of someone when you're with them every day. In stress and relaxation. In celebrations and in sorrow. In a clean home and in chaos. People are ever changing and ever evolving.
Marriage is hard. Dating is hard, who are we kidding? So why wouldn't marriage be harder? There's more of everything in marriage (commitment, communication, time together, bills and finances, decisions, family, etc) so when there's more, there's more weight and meaning. Getting married in your 30's also means that the way you've taught yourself to operate in adulthood isn't necessarily the best way for you as a couple. That has been a hard to pill to swallow at times. Especially when the way I've done everything on my own for 16 years is clearly the best way. Duh;) Or is it?
I make no qualms about this past year being the hardest year of my life. 95% of my world transitioned this year, which I'm sure you're tired of hearing about on this little blog. Unfamiliar became my new norm. Feeling somewhat lost in my everyday world became a more familiar feeling than I would like. Some days were a major struggle for me and I didn't always do my best to talk through my feelings. Our first year of marriage was supposed to be bliss, so I'd tuck everything inside. Hindsight, not always smart. Tears multiply when held behind a dam. And when that dam breaks, its harder to get to the root of the cause. The true cause. Am I really hurt by my husband not jumping excitedly at the chance to go look at new flooring or am I battling something different inside? Sometimes I wasn't even quite sure myself. And here I was, crying to my husband whose confused and most likely scared at the amount of tears over looking at carpet samples on a riveting Saturday afternoon.
So on the "hard" level, what I'm slowly learning is that communication is key (and all the married people said in unison "duh".). Men and women are very different, and if you've had a brother or a father, you know that already. But somehow when you're a new husband and new wife, I don't know that you're always prepared for just how different. My advice to myself moving forward in year two, aside from continuing to communicate more openly and honestly with my husband, is to also talk to others who have been there. Don't bash your hubs or vent out of anger, but do share your struggles as a way to grow in them, not bottle them up. Maybe they're the same struggles that a lot of couples face. Maybe being able to laugh about some of the shared challenges would help? Maybe they'll have advice on how they handled similar challenges or maybe they'll just listen. Even though marriage is hard, it was never designed to go at it alone. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's the whole point to its design.
Marriage is worth it. Even though this year was challenging, Tim is still my best friend and the one whom my soul loves. No one can make me crazier at times, and even hurt at times, but it's because no one holds my heart quite like he does. I have given away my last name for him and in turn, he has given me his. He protects me and provides for me. He is the one who goes through life's ups and downs by my side and he's the one who will learn all things marriage right alongside of me.
As the great movie quote from Runaway Bride so rawly and honestly states "Look, I guarantee there’ll be tough times. I guarantee that at some time, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me."
Here's to year two, and three, four, twelve, twenty-four... Here's to figuring this little thing they call marriage out together. Here's to weathering the storms and challenges together and holding tight to our commitment and values as a team. And here's to taking our first year and using it as a foundation for the future.