Growing up, I read in magazines, heard on talk shows and even heard from those older than me that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Hearing that always felt pretty ominous and I ended up imagining nasty fights, stressful conversations, and moments of despair. I wondered, what could possibly go so wrong in the first year for people to say that? Even when I did a quick Google search on the first year of marriage as I began to write this post, I came across articles such as “how to survive your first year of marriage” and “first year woes.”
If I’m being completely honest though, this past year of marriage was nowhere even close to hard. Maybe Adam and I are just an anomaly? I’d be curious to know what others my age have to say about their first year of marriage. I seem to think most first years of marriage nowadays actually aren’t so bad and maybe the whole “the first year is the hardest” is just a generational thing. Let me know if you agree in the comments!
Anyways, when I think back to Adam’s and my relationship as a whole, I think our hardest year together was actually our first year of dating. We had to learn to understand how the other thought and reacted to things. We had insecurities from previous relationships that hurt and broke us that we had to work through. We had to take notice of each other’s flaws and learn how to navigate those. We had to simply figure out how we worked together as a couple.
Going through what we did in our first year together laid the groundwork for us in the following years of our relationship. We got into a rhythm that worked for us and soon enough, we were laughing more, trusting more and fighting less. Getting engaged and getting married didn’t change any of that. The things we learned early on and eventually applied to our relationship are really what made our first year of marriage so blissfully happy. It’s not to say that our marriage is always going to be so happy and easy – we both realize that there will probably be more challenging times ahead in our future. But, for now, we can look back on our first year of marriage with appreciation, satisfaction and most importantly, with a whole lotta love.
I want to throw a disclaimer out there that I’m in no means saying these things we did and still do today works for every couple. I’m just sharing what’s worked best for us!
We Make Trust Our #1 Value
I’m not sure when it all just started to click for us, but Adam and I got to a point where we could fully trust each other. We knew that the other wasn’t like someone we had dated in our past and that we were a completely different couple together. I noticed that once Adam and I had that mutual trust in each other, our outbursts and fights completely stopped. We were reassured of our love for each other and felt more emotionally connected and secure and still do today.
We Lived Together Before Marriage
I personally am glad Adam and I lived together before we got married. By doing so, we were able to figure out each other’s lifestyles and routines before we tied the knot. We naturally ran into some hurdles but learned to adjust as needed so we could live together more peacefully. I had to learn how to share a closet, something I had never done before in my life. Quite the adjustment! And no fault to Adam, but he was pretty messy when we first moved in together. We joke I put him through “Kelly Bootcamp” because I taught him ways to be cleaner around our apartment. Whatever I did paid off, because Adam now keeps our home spotless 🙂
Living together before marriage also helped us to know what we liked and didn’t like about our first place together. That helped us especially when we went to buy our first home this past year, as we already had a mutual understanding of what we wanted and needed in our new home. We knew exactly what we were looking for so it was easy to pull the trigger together once we found the condo we loved.
We Split Household Responsibilities
Going along with cohabitation, Adam and I also learned before we got married how to split responsibilities at home. After years of seeing my parents split household chores, I knew I wanted to operate my home in the same way. From the very beginning, we divvied up the things we both enjoyed or didn’t mind to do and the things we hated. Adam agreed to always clean the bathrooms, while I take over the kitchen. He agreed to make coffee every morning while I make the bed. By pulling our own weight in our chores, we know we can count on the other to get the job done and avoid nagging and frustration. Teamwork makes the dreamwork is our motto!
We Are Smart About Finances
Money can be one of the main stressors in a marriage and that has been something I’ve wanted to avoid. Adam and I started looking at our finances holistically before we even got engaged. That can be risky in a relationship, but we knew we were committed to each other and could trust each other. We did a lot of what’s mentioned in this post – we were open about our debts and our spending habits, we set financial goals, and we budgeted. By getting ahead of this before our wedding day, we knew exactly what to expect once we were married. That helped a lot, especially when we went to buy our car and condo this year.
We Learned to Compromise
From the very beginning of our relationship, Adam and I learned to compromise. Thankfully, he and I are very similar and have the same taste when it comes to fashion, decor, and TV shows (for the most part). We are both Virgos after all! But, there are times where we don’t agree and we have to meet in the middle. There will be things I don’t necessarily want to do (like going into a very crowded bar of soccer fans to watch a game while vacationing in Paris) or things he doesn’t necessarily want to do (like going to see the Beauty and the Beast musical). But we make it happen because we know it means a lot to the other. And a lot of the times, it pushes the other outside of our comfort zone. I truthfully think that can be a good thing because then we end up growing more together as a couple. Win, win!
We Have Open & Honest Communication
I’ve never been one to be passive aggressive. If I have an issue or something on my mind, I’m going to say it. I pride myself in the fact that I’m honest to my core with Adam. I tell him when I’m annoyed by something he did or when I’m angry for something he said. He tends to keep more things to himself, but when I press and ask him questions or ask for feedback, he comes at me with just as much honesty. Honest communication is critical in our relationship.
We Show We Care
This is one of the things I love most about my relationship with Adam. We consistently show up and support each other’s goals and dreams. We dedicate time out of our busy schedules to spend together and do date nights. We’ll get random little gifts or bouquets of flowers for each other, just because. And no matter what, Adam and I make it a point to say “I love you” and kiss and hug each other before we head out the door or head to bed. We’ve done this from day one and it’s something that I treasure so much in our relationship. Small gestures like these seem oh so simple, but they truly speak volumes. There’s nothing better than starting or ending my day than that!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.
I too was very scared of the first year of marriage. Although we had the obvious stress of finances and us being pregnant with our first child, it was by far an extremely happy year of marriage! I continuously said to Tim, “so, when are we going to start arguing about stuff?” Haha. Even years later, I feel like us living together before getting married, already having a child in the mix, and just having open communication at all times has helped us navigate these past 3.5 years of marriage! It is a for sure dream come true for me after my track record of relationships. 🙂
That’s so amazing to hear, Jenna! I’m so glad you and Tim have worked out what is best for your relationship and adjusted as necessary to ensure a happy marriage! That’s the best!