The title of this blog post is pretty self-explanatory. Stephen and I hit the one-year mark today and it has been a wonderful year, full of new experiences and learning about each other. Here are my top ten revelations:
1. Synchronizing lifestyles is hard: Having never lived together before we got married, there was a steep learning curve when it came to learning, adjusting to, and working with each other’s living habits. I knew this would be an adjustment, but didn’t think it would be a huge deal. Ha. Little things like where to put the toothpaste, how to divide up the closet, how/when do you clean up after dinner, etc. seem small when listed separately, but meshing two lifestyles of little quirks takes time and patience. We are still learning just how to best live together.
2. Synchronizing lifestyles is easy: I realize this is the exact opposite of what I just said, but there will be some ways that your lives just naturally fit together. For example, we each tend to prefer cleaning duties that the other does not, so dividing household responsibilities was pretty easy. It also helps that we were both on the same page in wanting an egalitarian marriage, so we had the same expectations in how to organize our life together.
3. Going to bed together is important: This, depending on work schedules and whatnot, is not always possible. But if at all possible, I think it’s so important. It just helps to feel that you and your spouse are living in the same world, same house, same schedule. Plus, going to bed alone is kind of sad/lonely (especially if you also rise before your spouse).
4. Your spouse cannot read your mind: I know that so many say “communication is important” that it almost becomes a marriage-advice cliche, but it is true. There’s just no way around it. If you can’t articulate your thoughts and feelings to your spouse, then it creates a frustrating guessing game for both of you: your spouse frustrated that he/she never knows what’s going on in your mind and you frustrated that your spouse never addresses your (unknown) feelings.
5. Listening is key: Communication is so important that it gets two!! But really, talking is only half the battle. You also have to really, really listen to your spouse in serious and not-so-serious moments. Even if you’re tired, even if that smart phone is calling your name, it is so important to thoughtfully listen and really pay attention to what he/she has to say.
6. You won’t always like each other: I knew this going in, but I’ve learned that it really is okay. You and your spouse love each other and all, but your’e still only human. And humans annoy each other. And that is not the end of the world. Moments of annoyance (or sometimes days of annoyance) are, I think, pretty normal in the midst of your messy, beautiful life together. Using #4 and #5 in these moments can be helpful. 🙂
7. Marriage is different than you imagine: It is nothing like what I really imagined. I knew it’d be hard, but I imagined huge struggles that we would intermittently face, not that our troubles would be a million little things adding up with a million little things each of us is also processing individually. I also knew that I’d be happy, but I had no idea the amazing sense of peace it would bring me. It is so much more imperfect, real, trying, and rewarding than I ever imagined.
8. Laughter is important: This is another cliche, and something I knew before marriage, but it has been completely reinforced. These are the moments that create the best memories, the ones that bring you and your spouse together and solidify your bond. I really believe that cultivating the ability to laugh is about as close to cultivating actual happiness as you can get.
9. There is no more hiding: This was especially eye-opening to me–the fact that you cannot censor any part of your life anymore. If something upsets you and you go into ugly-cry mode over it, your spouse is gonna know. If you are trying to craft a super-secret birthday present for your spouse (in a 600 square foot apartment) it is really hard to do! For better and for worse, your life is pretty exposed. It’s both freeing and completely terrifying.
10. You’re stronger together: This one sounds a little cheesy (and maybe it is), but it’s my favorite. Whenever you are met with a life-thrown curve ball, you no longer have to face it alone. Taxes, car trouble, personal sorrows, work crises, financial emergencies, chocolate cravings, emotional breakdowns, you name it: from the mundane to the life-threatening, you always have a go-to, an emergency contact, a first phone call. Not having to face life alone is extremely empowering and comforting.
As I finish this post now, I feel pretty “wise,” but already know that this is just the beginning of what this journey will teach me. The first year alone has been full of learning and growing together, and in my finite-year’s-worth of wisdom, I think that’s basically what marriage is supposed to be about. I can only imagine what this next year will bring!