My girlfriend Minda Harts is the founder of a new website/newsletter, The Weekly Memo, a site that is devoted to helping women gain access to important resources and pragmatic real-world advice on personal finances, career development and work/life balance that will help us advance in our professional and personal lives.
A few weeks ago she asked me to write a post on the things I've learned about marriage in my first year. We celebrated our one-year anniversary yesterday and I figured it would be a good time to share that post here. :)
In a few short weeks, my husband and I will celebrate one year of marriage. (Yay, us!) You would think by now we’d have a well-rehearsed answer for the often asked: “so, how’s married life?” It seems like such a simple question, but there’s never really a simple answer. We typically just respond: “it’s good,” with a shrug and a smile and get on about the business of ordering appetizers.
Similar to when someone asks, “how are you?” It’s almost considered impolite to give details on how you’re actually doing. People don’t want to hear about your paper cut or that really good hair day you’re having. “I’m fine” suffices.
However, since I have this platform, I figured it’s an opportunity to expound upon “it’s good” and share seven things I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The good, the bad and, sometimes the ugly:
1. Nobody knows what they’re doing the first year
Anybody who tells you different is not to be trusted. Nobody knows how to be married until they’ve had practice being married. My husband and I did pre-marital counseling and read books to give us tools and tips to help us get off to a strong start. But I’m a new wife, he’s a new husband and we’re figuring things out as we go. Mistakes will be made along the way, but you learn from them and keep moving forward together.
2. Life will get in the way if you let it
Between work, social obligations, hobbies, friends, family, social media, and candy crush requests, it’s easy to let your schedule get overrun. Keep quality time with your spouse a priority. Spend time together on purpose. Little things make a big difference.
3. Not all advice is good advice
Be very discerning of whose counsel you take. As a newlywed, you’ll get advice from lots of different people. Most of them mean well, but advice is very subjective. Consider the source and whether or not their advice makes sense for your marriage.
4. Grab your pom-poms: you’re now somebody’s permanent cheering section
It’s very important to be a booster for your spouse. Applaud their efforts, support their dreams and cheer them up when they are feeling down. One of my favorite pictures of my husband and me at our wedding was one we took in the photo booth holding signs – mine said “team groom” and his said “team bride.” That holds true. We are each other’s number one fans. (Corny, but true. Stop rolling your eyes.)
5. You are the teacher and the student
You learn SO MUCH about yourself when you’re married. What gets on your nerves and what irks you somehow become very clear. Lol. But you also grow and learn compromise, patience and teamwork. You also become the teacher. Just as you learn about yourself from having a spouse, your spouse is learning about him/herself from being married to you.
6. “You” is now “Us”
This is not to say you lose your identity or individuality. Always keep that! However, you now have to consider another person for just about every decision. Seemingly minute things, like what time you’ll be home from work, what you’re eating for dinner or what groceries you bring home from the store, will in one way or another affect someone else. Not to mention you can barely go anywhere alone anymore without hearing “where’s your husband/wife?”
7. Don’t Call Tyrone
Conflict happens in a marriage. Sometimes minor, other times major. If you and your spouse are having an argument, I beg of you, be very careful of who you chose to air your grievances with. Make sure it’s someone who knows and loves your spouse. Don’t go complaining to Tyrone, who didn’t really like your spouse anyway, because this just gives him more reason not to (and he’s probably telling somebody else your business). Then, once you and your spouse have kissed and made up, Tyrone is still not over it and over there side-eying your spouse at the next dinner party. Guard your spouse, even during times of conflict. (Unless it’s abusive. Then, by all means, tell somebody).
Year one has been great and I look forward to what we learn over the next year and beyond. Check back with me in 50 years or so. By then I should know what I’m doing.
Feel free to check out The Weekly Memo for the original post and other great content for women!