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3 Lessons I Learned In The First Year of Marriage

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Yesterday, Jordan and I celebrated our one year anniversary, and I took some time to reflect on what life has been like since we said “I do”— and let me tell you, it’s been hard. I can’t speak for him, but I can say that I had some ideas and expectations of marriage that were unrealistic.

Over the last year, we’ve adjusted to life with a new baby and two older children, dealt with health issues, suffered a miscarriage, got pregnant again, fought through a trial (and now appeal process) with my younger brother, fought PTSD, and had a bunch of life thrown at us in between. Let’s not forget, the day-to-day hustle of family stuff, work, running businesses, and trying to figure out how to build a marriage.

With all the chaos and crazy that hit us, there were definitely times that we would crumble under the pressure, but we didn’t — and I learned a few things along the way.

1. Communication is the key to EVERYTHING, and it’s hard as hell.

I’m probably one the most straight-forward, tell-it-like-it-is women on the planet. I’m blunt, direct, and I don’t do well with small talk. In my eyes, most things are black and white, right or wrong, yes or no, facts or lies (or alternative facts, if you feel so inclined) — and I’m rarely swayed by another point of view. My husband is the opposite. He’s more open-minded and believes that most things fall within a gray area, and few things are as simple as yes and no.

When I ask a question, I want a simple, direct answer, not a story. Not an excuse. Even my kids know that. If I ask my son if he cleaned his room, I want a yes or no. I don’t care about how he got distracted by legos, or why he needed a break (every 10 minutes??? Seriously?) — I just want to know if it’s done. Sometimes, I’ll ask a follow-up question, sometimes I won’t, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on unimportant details.

My husband, on the other hand, like to lead with the story. We’ve had so many arguments over small things, because I just wanted him to get to the point and give me a damn answer. I can’t count how many times I’ve called him and said, “honey,  Chloe’s play starts at 7pm, will you be home from work in time?”, and he starts listing all the things he’s got going on at work, and why it’s not his fault. 20 minutes later, I’m pissed off and annoyed, and I’m like “sooooo, is that a yes or no”?! That’s been really tough for me, because all I want is a simple answer, but that’s not who he is. I swear I didn’t notice it until after we got married, but it was always there.

I’ve also realized that we don’t always hear what the other person is actually saying. I pay attention to everything. Body language, facial expressions, breathing patterns — I don’t know how many times I’ve been talking to my husband, and reading the signs, and gathered that he was just completely uninterested or ignoring what I was saying. When I called him out on it, he would relay that he’s not uninterested or ignoring me, he’s just tired or not in the right frame of mind to have that particular discussion.

Similarly, he doesn’t take criticism well. It doesn’t matter how many times a day I praise him, criticism is what sticks out to him. There have been times where we’re having a heated discussion and he’s said, “ you always point out what I’m doing wrong”, and I literally lose my shit because I’ve given 100 praises followed by one critique.

We’ve worked really hard at learning to listen to each other and not take things personally, and it’s made a tremendous difference. Sometimes we have to remind each other that communication takes effort, but we’ve both learned to accept and appreciate our differences and be more patient, so that we can both communicate with each other better.

2. Frustrations are unmet expectations.

Frustrations are unmet expectations. That statement is so big and so true, that I sometimes find myself saying it in my own head.

Until I met my husband, I had no desire to ever get married and I didn’t believe in the kind of love that fairy tales, movies, and music sells. Then I met him, and my life became a Hallmark movie…for a while. He really did become my best friend, and we became somewhat co-dependent on each other. At first, we spent every free minute together, then when I was in my third trimester with our youngest, I didn’t feel up to doing everything we used to, so he’d play golf or poker with his friends instead. Before marriage, I didn’t feel entitled to ownership of his time, but afterwards I did. Neither of us have a lot of friends in Texas (they’re all back in our hometowns), so I just expected us to discover all these new hobbies together and be attached at the hip. Instead, we haven’t really spent much time together with just the two of us.

Another expectation I had, was that he would pay attention to what I like and don’t like, and at random do nice things for me. I figured that he’d notice me keeping mental notes of everything he says and does, and using it to surprise him, and that would inspire similar action. That was a huge fail. I’d end up mad at him, for not listening or paying attention, or knowing me well enough to just do what I want.

There were so many little things — helping with cleaning, changing diapers, taking me out…I expected him to know that I wanted these things, and I would drop hints, but he’d never catch on. After another argument he told me that he doesn’t pick up on signs well, but if I ask him flat out he’d be happy to do all of those things. It sounded simple, but it made sense. It took me some time to get over the fact that he was never going to be psychic and “just know” some things, but he assured me that as time passes he’ll adjust, and he has. He’s much better at being proactive and I’m learning to manage my expectations…oh, and how to send him very specific pictures, links, and details to stuff I want.

3. Having a tribe who is supportive will help get you through tough times.

This is another big one. This year, we were hit with one big problem after another. Sometimes our marriage was the crux of it, and sometimes it was outside issues. The one thing that we agree on 1000% is that we would not have made it, if it weren’t for the people who have supported us, and fought alongside us for our family, our marriage, and out sanity.

First, our parents. They love us and they love our family — and they have been there through unimaginable turmoil, and helped carry us through it.

Our kids are far more emotionally intelligent and awesome than I’ve ever seen. They walked through PTSD with me — days when I struggled to get out of bed and was basically a zombie. They encouraged and inspired us, and sometimes called us out on our BS…but they never held in against us, and that is the thing I appreciate most.

Our family and friends, loved, encouraged, and held us up when we needed it most. I’m sure you can imagine how much that means during a cancer scare, miscarriage, and murder trial. We also found friends that we didn’t know we had at church. People who had nothing to gain from us, rallied around us and prayed for us and our family. They took us under their wings, and were transparent about, issues, and struggles they’ve had to walk with us through ours. As we continue to learn and grow together, we hope that someday we’ll have the opportunity to do the same thing for others, and although we’ve only been married for a year, we have a lot of experience to draw from.

It is truly important to surround yourself with people who love you and are for your marriage. We have. It hasn’t been easy, but when hard times come — and believe me they will — you’ll need those people to make it through.

Good, Bad, Best

Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot. We’ve had good and bad times, and we’ve lived through it. We sometimes joke that it feels like we’ve lived 10 years in one, and that isn’t an exaggeration. We’re far from experts on this marriage thing, but the bright side is that it can only get better from here, and with a new baby on the way (and a minivan) we’re looking forward to what’s next. The best years are ahead of us and we’re ready to take them on!

Are you married or in a long-term relationship? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you! Also, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and let’s keep the conversation going!

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