A Guide to Surviving Your First Year of Marriage
It is said that “with age comes wisdom,” so I can’t help but feel my 365 days of marriage have imbued me with an acuity into the male identity. Naturally, I feel compelled to offer you all sorts of unsolicited advice.
Last February, as I was arranging to walk down the aisle, I felt that I was not completely prepared for what I had signed up. It’s impossible to predict how thoroughly your life will change after your special day. I’m here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about what that first year of marriage entails and offer my insights on how adjusting your expectations and being intentional with your actions can help strengthen the foundation of your relationship.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Boys smell bad. Ugh. When you are dating, you have hours to prepare before seeing each other. Used to seeing your guy freshly showered, moussed, with minty breath and hint of that cologne you love? Kiss those unrealistic exceptions goodbye. When living in the same space, you may often be home to greet your hubby who is glowing with post-workout sweat from the gym or in need of a shower after a grueling 10-hour workday. And sometimes, it’s a little funky.
Things get messy so much easier. Maybe you’ve lived on your own or even had a roommate back in college, so now you’re thinking to yourself, “this will be a breeze, he said he’s clean!” I’m here to report to you that when he said he was clean, he thought you were asking if he showered daily.
Money isn’t just yours anymore. As many times as I rehearsed the line “What do you mean I can’t blow $200 on this Nordstrom’s sale?”, his rebuttal was never as gracious as the one in my head. You now have shared bills and unexpected costs to cover. Say ‘au revoir’ to those cute Stuart Weitzman boots and that new Kate Spade bag.
You fall deeper in love. To heck with the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” You know what makes the heart grow fonder? Living with the love of your life and creating a special bond filled with inside jokes, late night chats, and laughing until there are tears streaming down your face.
You both have annoying habits. You’re going to discover a lot of weird habits about your partner that might drive you crazy. Approach all things graciously, and remember, he may snore but you talk in your sleep.
He will try, and it will be adorable. In just one year, Lucas has managed to shatter two wine glasses, splash paint on my brand new suede jacket, and break the vacuum cleaner. All for the sake of trying to clean the house and surprise me before I got home from a long day. It’s sweet, endearing, and makes me smile.
Ask. It took me six months to realize men can’t read minds. If you’re frustrated because you thought you would be spending Friday night out at a swanky restaurant and his idea of date night is Chick-fil-A drive-thru and Netflix, speak up. Sometimes men just don’t get it and need to be approached point-blank about what you want.
Encourage him. Be his cheerleader and his biggest fan. Let him know when you’re proud of him or sneak a note into his wallet when he’s having a rough week. Sometimes even the smallest unexpected gestures can go a long way.
Watch your words. They can never be withdrawn. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to take cheap shots, but you’ll be glad at the end of your disagreement that you chose to hold back.
Create the butterflies. You’re no longer waiting to get picked up to go out with your boyfriend. The anticipation of him walking you to your door or calling you unexpectedly is gone. Instead, it’s been replaced with morning kisses, midnight cuddles, and lazy Saturday afternoons. Seek romance at every opportunity.
Expect “thank-you’s” not IOU’s. Everything you do in your marriage should never be done with expectation. Wash his car, surprise him at work, or make his favorite dessert; but do it because you love him, not because you’re hoping for a new pair of Kendra Scott earrings.
Pray for him. Pray together, pray alone, just pray pray pray. It is quintessential to make God the priority in your relationship and to have that spiritual bond with your spouse. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
Listen to him ramble about the boring stuff. He wants to hear you talk about your new nail polish color just as much as you want to hear him talk about changing the spark plugs in his car. When he’s had a long day at work and wants to tell you about the drama between his co-worker and boss for 45 minutes, listen.