Lessons Learned

First Year of Marriage: Five Things I’ve Learned

One year.  I’ve always found it amazing how some years go by in the blink of an eye and carry a million memories, while some seem to take forever – yet you don’t remember much of them.

I can’t say if this year will be for the former or latter when I look back on it in the future.  What I can say without any doubt?  It was full.  It was challenging at times.  It was eye-opening.  I wouldn’t change it.

It’s been our first year of marriage.  We’ve journeyed from our wedding, to a mandatory military move, the sale of one home, the purchase of another, family visiting, and the day-to-day trials and bumps of the twenty-first century.  It definitely wasn’t always easy.  We had hard conversations, set-backs, and a lot of unknowns that we needed to figure out together.

I am grateful everyday that all of this happened in the first year of our marriage rather than first year of dating or living together.  Relationships need to morph and change.  Trust builds and you learn more about each other.  You learn to understand how each of you react to issues – both initially and long-term, and how to communicate through those reactions.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not an expert.  Neither is my husband, though he is most-likely much closer than I am.  I thank goodness for his patience with my anxiety and moods every day.  But we’re young and learning.  With that said, our experiences this past year have pointed out some lessons that we needed to learn, and needed to learn quickly.  I’d like to share them with you.

  1.  Either you both win, or neither of you win.  Marriage is not a competition.  Winning an argument is not a “win” if the other person loses.  It does nothing but damage the relationship.  It took a while for both of us to realize this (and to be honest, we’re still not great at it.)  We have to remind each other mid-conversation sometimes that neither of us need to win.  I’m competitive by nature, so this is probably what I need to still work on the most.
  2. Same goes for compromises.  By definition, one person compromising is not a compromise.  It’s never easy to give up something you want or have, but you’re part of a team of two (maybe more if you have a family!) and the ultimate goal should be the best outcome for your team.
  3. It will never be 50/50.  My dad used to say this quite a bit with my sister and I.  The give and take in a relationship will never be perfect – someone will always taking more than or less than fifty percent.  I never really understood it until a few months before I got married.  In my mind until then, I couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t be perfect.  Both sides should be trying all the time…  A few months before our wedding, my opinion changed.  We adopted a puppy.  A cute little black lab that my husband could not put down.  She was abandoned near our house, and it was supposed to storm.  We brought her in and by the next morning, there was no way he could have given her up… or vice-versa.  I was not as convinced.  It was too soon – too close to the wedding.  The plan was to get a fully-grown dog from the shelter a year later.  And I’d be taking care of them.  My husband had no time, between work and rugby and classes.  But he needed her.  So we kept the puppy.  It wasn’t 50/50 – at that moment or for the next six months of puppy-rearing.  But it was worth it.
  4. Honesty is always best.  I used to think this one was obvious.  And over-rated.  Not always.  My husband and I are both independent people.  We lived on our own and were used to figuring out our own issues.  In other words – we were not good at asking for help.  This past year, we realized we needed to learn.  Being vulnerable isn’t easy, but it’s a large part of honesty.  I had to learn to tell him when I was overwhelmed with packing and getting things ready to move.  He had to learn to tell me when he needed a break from my to-do lists.
  5. Distractions don’t help.  Our dog is jealous of everyone – if anyone is getting more attention than her, she tries to push her way in.  Our cat is not a lot better – he just assumes everything is specifically placed for him to walk across and explore.  Between animals, phone notifications, tv, and everything else that makes noise or requires attention, it can be hard to have a conversation about anything important.  Our trick?  The guest room.  We leave the animals, to-do lists, phones, and all other distractions out of the room.  Just us – talking or taking in a “nothing” moment.  Just hold hands and work through it.  We made it through some wedding problems, decisions on dog-training, and some moving issues by getting rid of distractions and working with each other.

Most of all, we’ve enjoyed it.  Our time together.  The more we go through, the closer we get and the more we learn.

Like I said, we’re not experts.  We still argue, fight, make up, get overwhelmed and everything in between.  But these tips have helped us.  Try one.  Maybe it’ll help – maybe you have an even better idea or tip.

Let me know how it goes!  And always – have a great day!

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