A lot can happen in 20 months. And by a lot, I mean that it’s enough time to enjoy many ups and downs, make a few life changing decisions, and even experience a tragedy or two. 20 months has even proven to be enough time to warrant our newlywed advice to several of our newly married friends. Go figure.

One instance in particular sticks out. We were spending time with a couple of our friends who had gotten married a few months before, and we asked them how they were enjoying married life. They replied that they were loving every second. So in an attempt to have a real conversation about the mess that is new marriage, we asked a question that begs for more.

“What do y’all fight about?”
“Um… We don’t really fight. When we disagree about something, we just talk about it. We never really argue.”

My involuntary facial expression likely said it all. Luckily they were too busy smiling at one another in mutual satisfaction.

Perhaps Zach and I were a unique case, but the first six months were some of the hardest because we hadn’t really learned how to “be nice” yet. Every piece of newlywed advice that we had received warned us of this season. Not to say it was any easier, probably just more frustrating. As I was slamming doors or sitting with my hands clasped tightly in unmanageable anger I remembered “this is supposed to be hard.” Really not helpful, but I guess it’s better than, “I’m going to kill you.”

As far as I can tell, this early season full of disagreement is all about learning how to do it well.

Disagreement has taught me where I’m weakest in my brain and most broken in my spirit. It’s also taught me that I’m quicker to anger than I’d like to be, and that I can still say harsh things simply to sting- two things I’m owning because I’m being honest, but two things I’d like to put in my past sooner than later.

I’m not sure what the answer is to Newlyweds who “never fight” because “omg, marriage is so easy.” Perhaps they’re more concerned with being agreeable/desirable than disagreeing with the other’s opinions, or maybe they’re still in shock from all of the changes. I am convinced, though, that a relationship without disagreement is missing something, but hey, what do I know. I’m 20 months in.

The best piece of newlywed advice that I can come up with is this: focus on fixing yourself first.

This piece of advice derived from my natural inclination to blame everything on Zach, which tended to perpetuate the argument rather than urge us toward a solution. I realized that the sooner I figured out what I was doing wrong (and owned it out loud), the sooner the fight turned into a conversation.

Maybe that’s not groundbreaking newlywed advice, but it’s sure made our long road trips that began in an argument a lot more enjoyable two or three hours in. Maybe that’s enough.

So I’m giving you permission Newlyweds. Argue on. Just don’t kill each other, and keep your eyes open so that you can spot your issues. Hint: they’re not always what you think they are.