We heard it a thousand times in a hundred ways, “the first year of marriage will be the most difficult.”

Zach and I listened to the oldlyweds in our lives and prepared our minds for a challenging first year. Oddly enough, I’ve also heard the first year referred to as the honeymoon phase, of which I’ve always been skeptical.

How could the first year of melding your lives together be as easy as the honeymoon?

We decided to move two thousand miles across the country three weeks before we got married. He got a new, exciting job in Texas, and I was homesick from living in New York for a couple of years. After our honeymoon, we walked into our new apartment together and felt overwhelmed with gratitude. Our lives were going exactly as planned, and the hard part (the wedding) was over.

Four weeks into married life I accepted an unpaid, 12-week internship. After all, Zach’s job was more than enough for the two of us. But a week after I signed this contract, my husband unexpectedly lost his job. And it wasn’t pretty. My family was involved. Things got personal. And unfortunately, the man Zach moved across the country to work with had a reputation for treating people poorly- useless information to hear after-the-fact.
It was messy. It was unexpected. It was the first trial we’d face as a married couple.

These things bring out the best in some and the worst in others.

We stuck together through it all, and despite the fact I wanted to do some physical damage to the self-righteous a-holes responsible, I didn’t (excuse my harsh letter). Fortunately, these things bring your darkest issues to light, but it’s unfortunate when they happen five weeks into your marriage.

Disappointment fueled disagreements, and our disagreements fueled the fire.

We were a team, yet we were turning on ourselves. Nobody could have prepared us for this. It was a lesson we had to learn early on:

the world isn’t going to do our marriage any favors.

Hard to swallow, but definitely necessary.

Be prepared for your first year of marriage. I’m not saying this to scare anyone; I’m not even finished with my own first year. I am saying it because when you’re prepared to struggle, you’ll fight harder for it. The most encouraging part? You can begin challenging yourself in your relationship long before the wedding bells.