A lot of people assume when you get married, the first year is the easiest, but that’s not always true. When you experience financial struggles, grief, an unexpected move, and a plethora of other obstacles on top of the basic vicissitudes that come with marriage, first year couples can find working through their relationship to be overwhelming.
But guess what? We made it through. Why? Because happy marriages aren’t perfect marriages. Just like a growing toddler, you will experience some bumps and bruises along the way, but you keep growing.
Here are 5 things you can expect to face, and overcome, during your first year of marriage:
Unless you’re already living together, moving in together can be quite challenging. The realization that you have to acclimate yourself with someone else’s habits and their routines can be tedious. For example, my husband and I realized our definitions of “clean” are totally different, so to keep from killing each other (figuratively speaking), we had to find ways to split up certain tasks based on each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Whether it’s arguing about how to roll the toilet paper (over or under), sleeping habits (who’s the morning person), critiquing one’s driving, the toilet seat (even though I always check before I go), it can seem minor, but the sum of it all can lead to major arguments. We know couples who purchase separate toothpastes because they used to constantly argue about whether to squeeze the toothpaste from the middle versus the bottom. Regardless of how petty that may sound, they found a way to make it work to avoid having those repeated and heated, yet minor, arguments.
Four things I constantly remind or ask myself:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Choose your battles wisely.
- Is it worth the argument?
- But did you die?
Cash and Coins (Finances)
Whether it’s due to a recession, different opinions about finances, different salaries, or different habits, if you’re not careful, financial issues can creep up and cause discord in your relationship. Topics like: separate vs. joint accounts, who is responsible for paying which bills, credit scores and history, etc. are all critical items to discuss. The most logical thing to do is to discuss these types of things upfront, but sometimes love finds you and emotions overpower logic. Moreover, sometimes financial issues occur out of your control.
When Eric and I got married, we were smack dab in the middle of a recession. Like most people, layoffs and lesser-paying jobs were the reality for us. Although we didn’t spend as much (not even close) to the amount that most would imagine you’d spend on a wedding, we were still struggling financially. Not to mention, since the job market in Atlanta was scarce, we had to pack up our stuff and move to a completely new and unfamiliar city in a matter of two weeks – yet another thing we hadn’t really planned for.
Who knew the recession was going to hit right after we got married? I think sometimes God wants to see just how committed you are and how you handle a certain season of marriage, or anything for that matter, before He takes you to a new season. In our vows, we said, “For better or worse,” and it was made clear to me that sometimes "the worse" comes before "the better." One thing’s for certain…no matter how bad the arguments were and no matter how hard we struggled, we didn’t let the financial issues drain us completely.
[Tweet "Sometimes God wants to see how you handle a certain season before He takes you into a new one."]
There’s nothing like that first blow-up after all of the excitement and celebration of the wedding settles. We’ve learned how to communicate more effectively based on what others have taught or shared, and because of our awareness and familiarity of each other’s personality and communication styles.
My husband can be very analytical, straightforward, yet argumentative, and I, on the other hand, can be emotional and a bit dramatic at times. Hence, sometimes his words pierce with a sharpness that I’m not ready to receive, or I am overly sensitive to the smallest things. Now, we’re more cognizant of the intent behind our words, and how it’s delivered when we say certain things. Additionally, when things get too heated, we take the time we need to cool off without running out on each other.
Our rule of thumb: never hit below the belt, strive to communicate, not humiliate, and apologize sooner.
Compromise and Consideration
It’s hard to go from making decisions by yourself and for yourself, to making them with someone else. It’s simple - if we fail to compromise, we fail to harmonize. The compromise could be as simple as deciding on what to do for date night, deciding to put away all phones or social media interrupters during dinner, or as intricate as what goes down in the bedroom, or deciding where to spend the holidays. Instead of thinking or saying, “This is what I need from you,” we have to constantly ask or think, “What can I do for you?"
[Tweet "If we fail to compromise, we fail to harmonize."]
Collision of Two Histories
Someone once said, “Marriage is the collision of two histories,” because regardless of the fact that two people become one, ultimately our backgrounds and past experiences shape who we are. My husband was raised by two loving, married parents, and I was raised by a loving, single mom. He saw an example of love and marriage practically everyday, but I didn’t. I wasn't even really sure how to be a wife. He came from a big family and wanted kids as soon as possible, but I didn’t. He saw the women and men of his family do certain things, but I didn’t (and vice versa). Needless to say, we had differing views about a few things, and we had to figure out a way to do what was best for us in the now without compromising our morals and values.
So, whether you’re married or headed to the altar, and you’re concerned about some of these issues, just know that you’re not alone. We fight harder for our marriage than we do each other. Yes, we have some rough days and we get on each other's nerves, but our sunny days outweigh our cloudy days by miles and miles. It’s all a part of being married, and anyone who tells you differently is lying to you and themselves.
What has the first year of your relationship or marriage taught you? Let us know in the comments below!