5 Lessons from Our First Year of Marriage

Photo by Amanda Steinhauer

Photo by Amanda Steinhauer

Javan and I didn’t live together until we were married. As a result, we had some extra challenges after we got married that some couples have earlier in their relationship. We had navigated some truly difficult things as a dating couple. We had learned the value of intentional time apart. We knew each other incredibly well.

But that didn’t keep us from really struggling through our first year. As of today, marriage is awesome. I love doing life with my amazing husband, but the first year has been a pretty intense journey! I am not a marriage or relationship expert, and while I can’t speak for everyone or every marriage, I can share a little about my experience. Here’s hoping it leaves you feeling a little more prepared or a little more understood.

1. The first year of marriage weight gain is a real thing

I always said I wasn’t going to be “that girl” who got married and immediately gained 20 lbs. Well, between the stress of learning “how to marriage” and the topsy-turvy changes to schedule and habits, I gained some weight while my exercise habits stayed more or less the same. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that this has been a real struggle for me. I live a pretty healthy life for the most part, so it was pretty unexpected and something I’m still navigating.

2. I will never stop getting to know him

Surprise! People change when they go through major life transitions! Well, getting married is a MAJOR life transition, and Javan and I changed a lot through it. A year later, we are older, wiser, and different than we were when we got married.

This really hit home in the middle of a first-year fight when Javan pointed out to me that, based on the assumptions I was making, I didn’t know him. It totally took me down a notch. It really clicked in that moment that getting to know each other is going to be a consistent part of our marriage, no matter how long we’re together.

3. It takes a village

Around the 9 month mark, Javan and I were reaching the resolution of our biggest first year struggles. We went out to eat with some fellow newlyweds (married a year longer than us) and got to talking… They asked how married life is. We hemmed and hawed a bit before admitting it was hard, but we were working through it. “OH, I know,” my friend told us, “There was a LOT of crying the first year. Crying and wine.” They launched into hilarious tales of their dumbest first year fights and all the silly ways they navigated them, including a letter board in the kitchen where the wife would post her current mood.

It was such a little moment, but it turned things around. Suddenly, we weren’t alone. We weren’t failing. This was normal. It was expected. Other people felt this way. Now, we’re part of a marriage community group. We speak openly about both our struggles and how great marriage is.

4. The things I love most about him are the same things that drive me crazy

Anything that FIRST draws you in about a person is probably their most extreme and unchecked personality traits. While they may be wonderful most of the time — after all, that’s why you fell in love with them — they can cause problems too.

Here’s a real-life example: Javan is the most even-tempered person I’ve ever met. It is an incredible complement to my spitfire tendencies. While I’m emotional, he’s calmly waiting for the constructive discussion to start. It’s a huge blessing to me, and one of the biggest reasons our relationship works. Here’s the flip side: since he doesn’t tend to get emotional, he also doesn’t tend to tell me the good things about how he feels about me.

5. It is so worth it

Marriage is hard. It’s a challenge that requires growth, compromise, and resilience. But at the end of the day, I am a better and more mature person than I was a year ago. Javan is my best friend. We have an irreplaceable relationship full of love and support. It was hard-earned, and we aren’t done yet, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.