When we were planning our wedding, I had no idea what one year of marriage would even look like for us. In the beginning, everyone would ask me, "so, how's married life?" And at that time it seemed pretty much the same as not married life. Sitting down to reflect, a few weeks after our one year anniversary, I feel like I finally have an answer to "how's married life?"
As a couple we've learned a lot, grown a lot, loved a lot and been a lot of places in 12 months. I wouldn't necessarily say I love Zack 'more' today then I did on our wedding day, I do however love him better, more unconditionally and more intentionally.
Here are 5 things I've learned in my short time as a wife...
1. It's not like the movies
We grow up reading fairy tails that teach us happily ever after comes after the big I DO and watch rom-coms that subconsciously lead us to believe that morning sex is wonderful. So of course going into marriage we have these cotton candy dreams about living on love and nothing else and waking up flawless with minty fresh breath. Being married is great! It's also sacrificial, disorganized and some times smelly. One of the best things about being married is that it's NOT perfect all the time. No other relationship or friendship will challenge and grow you as much as marriage does. My husband and I fill in each others gaps and (intentionally and unintentionally) push and challenge each other to be kinder, wiser and all around better then when we were single. In reality happily ever after is open to interpretation and mornings aren't all that sexy.
2. Communication is, in fact, key
My husband Zack and I will easily agree that communication is where we struggle the most in our relationship. We used to joke that he spoke blue and I spoke pink (let me just come out and say we are two extremely different people brought together by one very awesome God) and stepping into marriage has almost seemed to amplify that. I've learned that the majority of our disagreements stem from one of us misunderstanding the other persons intentions and how silly is that?!? How many arguments could we have avoided if we spoke and understood each others "language"? Our communication is still a work in progress but I've learned in this first year how important it is to be transparent, patient and loving with my words.
3. Remember your love story
It's true what they say, marriage isn't always easy. The world overall isn't exactly team monogamy so when you choose to commit your life to someone there will be days you have to fight for that decision. I'm human, there are days where Zack really pisses me off or moments where he hurts me, but in those moments I have to remember what brought us together in the first place. How we met, what I felt after the first date, after our first kiss. What was it about Zack that made me say yes when he got down on one knee? Remembering your love story brings you back to what's important when the waters seem rocky. Know and remember that your spouse loves you, especially in the moments where they seem like they don't. See that things can and will get better. Sure, some people may be thinking "Shay you're being naive," but I believe marriage is a life long commitment. I'd also like to believe that those of you who said those vows in front of your friends and family meant it. You can just as easily choose to love someone just as you choose to hate them. Remember your story and fight for this, then look back and remember how you fought for it, because no one has a love story quite like yours.
4. Gatta do that homework!
By the time you decided to spend the rest of your life with someone, you typically know them pretty well. You stay up late texting and face timing your bae, learning their hobbies and interests. You go on countless dates picking up on their mannerisms and habits. You spend hours on some couch learning what makes them happy and sad. Then somewhere along the way you fall in love with who they are. What no one seems to talk about is the fact that school isn't over once you walk down that isle.
Your partner is always changing and growing as you probably are too. I have made it my life long goal to be a Zack expert. I want to know his favorite food 10 years from now. I will be the one to look at him and know how he's feeling and what he needs to feel comforted. By continuing to learn about my husband, paying attention to him as the years go by I will always know him in a way that no other relationship could. It's so important to do your homework and know your spouse through every season of their life. By being your husband/ wife's expert, you can love them the way they need to be loved no matter how many years are behind you.
5. Do not be afraid of marriage "roles"
I agree, we as humans are all equal, but here is a concept for ya, "Equal-Opposites". As wives, we are called to respect and support our husband. We were uniquely made female, made to be equal to our spouses yet carry out different roles in marriage. Personally, helping people has always been something I love doing. This is no different in my marriage. This past year I've learned that I am a suitable helper for my husband. My role is to come along side him and assist in any way that will help him to lead our marriage. In return Zack is called to lovingly lead us in a direction that benefits, not him alone, but us as a team. Find what works for you to thrive as a team. This of course is not an art I have mastered after one year. I assume it's something I will have to work at my whole life. I know that the idea of submission is a taboo concept today. My advise to wives would be to not be afraid of being submissive when necessary because submissive does not mean weak, it does not mean inferior. Submission shows trust. Trust in the Lord and trust in our husbands and I for one am all about more trust in marriage.
BONUS: I've learned realistically, no one goes into marriage an expert. No book, movie or blog will ever truly prepare you for that union. Seek guidance from couples you admire and who have been doing this longer! There is no shame in asking for advise because marriage is only learned by trial and error and praise God for those couples who came before us!
As expected in the first year as husband and wife there were the best of times and the worst of times but no matter what, my husband and I always had each other and that my friend is the best thing about marriage.
If you're married, how long has it been since your I do's? What has been the biggest take away in your relationship so far? Would you like me to expand on any of the topics I covered in this post? Leave some love in the comments bellow!