The First Year of Marriage
As a Psych major in college, I have always found relationships interesting. Today I was thinking about “the first year” as I am chatting more and more with past brides about maternity and baby photos. They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, shouldn’t it all be a honeymoon after that point? Falling even more in love with your spouse each day, now that you officially get to call him or her yours for keeps?
The internet is littered with information about the struggles endured during the first year of marriage, even for couples who were living together prior to making the leap towards a forever commitment. It seems common to experience some level of buyer’s remorse in the months following that leap. The reality sets in, and you begin to realize – your life is now forever entwined with someone else’s. That can be a scary adjustment for some people to make; no matter how prepared they were to make it in the first place.
The point is – don’t beat yourself up if the first year is harder than you expected it to be. It’s normal to struggle a bit as you find a way through life as a couple instead of as an individual. Money can be a common argument, with husbands and wives figuring out how to combine incomes and compromise in terms spending habits. If you have spent your entire life feeling comfortable purchasing the items on your want list, and you now feel as though you have someone policing your every purchase or pushing a budget you don’t quite understand – arguments are bound to ensue. Finding ways to continue focusing on personal passions can sometimes cause hiccups as well, if you each have different ideas of how much time a married couple should spend together. And occasionally coming to terms with when to begin family planning can open the door to disagreements you never before anticipated.
Sometimes, navigating marriage can feel like walking through a minefield.
Talking about these issues ahead of time can help, but you can’t ever be fully prepared until you are there, in the middle of it. Pre-marital counseling may set you up with some communication strategies for working through these initial struggles, and going in for refresher courses after the fact is never a bad idea if you just can’t seem to meet eye to eye. The key is to keep talking to each other. Remain open to alternative perspectives and try to see things from your spouse’s point of view when possible. “They” say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, so just remind yourself that whoever “they” are – “they” apparently want you to know that it does get better.
And it does, I see it all the time. For as many weddings as I have photographed, I have also been there for the family photos years down the line. I have seen the looks of adoration that could absolutely compete with those exchanged on that one special day years before. I have witnessed love that has endured struggles, and seen the strength that is built in overcoming each of those first hurdles.
Besides, it obviously isn’t all bad. Building a home with someone you love can be exciting in this breathless kind of way that not much else compares to. Think of all the firsts you get to experience as a married couple, and all the times you get to come home from a bad day to this person who loves you so much. For every struggle and fight, there will be laughter and adventure as well. Like everything else, marriage is just an adjustment. But finding your groove can be worth every hiccup along the way.