Marriage is hard work. Marriage is the entwining of two hearts and lives and of course, that takes time and effort. The first year of marriage isn’t easy, but it is so rewarding and exciting. I have loved every moment of the past 6 years of marriage with Eric…even the tougher moments because they’ve shaped our marriage into what it is today. Here’s 7 things I learned during the first year of our marriage (and am still trying to learn!):
1. I’m selfish. Sadly enough I realized just how selfish I was during the first year of our marriage and am reminded day by day. I constantly find myself having to re-learn that I have to give everything I have got to our marriage. It’s not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Just because I’m tired doesn’t mean I should treat my husband any less than how I feel at 100%. It’s hard to remember that in the moment, but I have to remember he can be tired too and everyone wins if we treat the other person like they are the most important person in the world.
2. Compromise is everything. This seems like a “duh” answer until you’re in the thick of an argument, or “discussion” as we like to call it. We have found that normally when we disagree, both parties are at least a little bit right and a little bit wrong. Being the first to say I’m sorry can be very hard. And yet, it opens up the flood gates for reconciliation. Sometimes, it’s nice just to feel heard or just to remind each other during tough times that “I still love you, I just want to work through this together.”
3. Space is needed. I thought when we first got married that it would be just like when we dated. When we were both home, we would both be cuddled up on the couch, or talking constantly, or holding hands, etc. I quickly learned for my husband’s internal well-being he needed alone time, just as much as I needed interaction. I try to plan one night a week where I go out with girlfriends or family and let him have his alone time while I get to catch up with others that I love.
4. Baseline. Set yourself up for success! What is important to you as a couple? For Eric and I, it was very important that we set our baseline solidly plugged into a church to set that foundation for our marriage. We really wanted to invest in a small group to get to know and do life with other like-minded Christian couples. That way we started our marriage out with new couple friends that have proved to be life-long friends so far with similar values to us.
5. Be goofy. You married this person because you have a lot of fun together. Keep doing the silly things that made you fall in love together. Hum out loud to the same tune, roll down the windows in the car and dance like crazy, make midnight Sonic runs! Do the silly things that bonded you in the first place. Laughing together is too much fun to let go!
6. Date nights. Date nights are critical to stay plugged in as a power couple. Even though we don’t have kids yet, we find that with multiple jobs and school, it can be hard to get in the quality time that we crave. I’m so thankful for a husband who initiates date nights usually once a week to make sure we are communicating and taking a moment away from home to be “just the two of us.” No phones, no distractions. I can’t imagine how much more imperative these nights will be once we have kids!
7. Praise is important. Your opinion matters to your spouse more than anyone else in this world; that’s why he picked you to spend the rest of his life with! So, when you think your husband looks cute, does a great job cleaning the house, notices things that make you smile, or makes a wise move at work, TELL HIM! Men love to feel respected by their wives just as much as we adore being loved and doted on. We have found in our marriage that the times it’s hardest to take the time to notice things and give praise are sometimes when it is needed most. When your spouse is stressed, they need to hear affirmation. Give it lovingly and lavishly and I promise you it will be appreciated.
These are just a few of the things I have learned in our 6 years of marriage. I think there are many more things that could be added to this list, so I’d love to hear what the biggest things you learned in your first year of marriage were in the comments below. Please share!