This article was written in 2014 a few months after my husband and I had reached our one year milestone. Four years into my marriage and miles away from where I was when I wrote this, I couldn’t help but recognize the value of these lessons for newlyweds. So here it is again, slightly revised.
The first year of marriage taught me more than I expected or thought possible. For example, I expected a lot of wedding gifts, a hot new roommate, and plenty of fresh flowers. In reality, I got all of the above plus a large dose of horrifying self reflection and discovery. If you’re married, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, let me just say that living your life side-by-side with another human has the tendency of unearthing your deepest pain, darkest secrets, and character flaws…how romantic.
So in an attempt to reconcile the unexpected and occasionally uncomfortable nature of my new marriage, I’ve decided to reflect on the things that I’ve learned this year. Here are the three most important lessons I learned during our first year of marriage.
1. Humility is the fastest way to end an argument. My pride is usually the reason an argument lasts longer than it should. Sometimes I think I’m 100% right, and other times, I feel like I’ve earned the right to be angry. There are times when I realize I’m wrong mid-argument (oh crap) but decide to defend my case to the death anyways. This particular course of action has a way of causing bigger problems, so I’ve recently resorted to silently staring him down—which doesn’t really work, but it certainly buys me time.
But what happens when I apologize and take responsibility for my actions rather than argue? Or when I laugh because I know I’m wrong or I don’t have a good case? The argument begins to come to an end. It’s incredibly simple. To be clear, I know that some arguments are more complicated, but I’m convinced that, a lot of times, choosing humility in a moment of anger, tension or frustration can bridge the gap.
2. All of your personal problems become less personal. By that, I mean they’re not just yours to live and deal with anymore. Your anger, trust issues, and insecurities affect your partner now. And marriage has a unique way of making those issues come to the front of the line and stare you in the face.
Yikes…so no more hiding out? Nope, you’re forced to deal with them.
I described this experience earlier with the word “horrifying,” but the word “necessary” may be a better fit. Growing is a part of life, and the growth that happens when people deal with their problems head on and come out on the other side is beautifully necessary. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of coming out on other side during your first year of marriage, but it is beginning. Just remember, there’s going to be too many issues to handle at first, so take it slow. This is only the beginning.
3. Love is a decision you make every day. After the first year of marriage, you’ve pretty much seen your spouse in their entirety. The butterflies aren’t making up for their mistakes, and their bad habits have gone from cute to…what the hell is this. The dating game is long over, so being on your best behavior and impressing your partner is no longer a major concern. While all of this is natural, choosing to live selflessly every day may not be.
Most days are long and Netflix is awesome, but I knew going into this thing that it wouldn’t be all about me anymore. Now I have to choose romantic effort, sweet surprises, and affirmation over laziness, selfishness, or negativity. I can’t be my only priority, and this has been world-changing in the most uncomfortable way. Neale Donald Walsch says that, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and he might’ve been on to something.
Out of all the things that I’ve learned this year, these are the three lessons that stuck out. Let’s plan to meet back here next year, maybe I’ll have three more. I’d love to hear about the lessons you learned during your first year of marriage, so be sure to tell us about them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Author Bio. Alycia is the founder of Wedshock, the author of Wedding Vow Writing, and a newlywed of 4 years. She lives in New York with her husband above a publishing company that refuses to print her books despite her persuasive baking efforts. See what she’s up to on her website, Instagram and Twitter.