Bring out the bottles of Arbor Mist, guys! I am so excited because, on September 20th, my husband and I will have been married for one full year. Not many people can say that, so I’m truly thankful. Trust me, we are not perfect by a long shot, but I’ve learned so much in this short amount of time. In this post, I want to share with you the five most important things I’ve learned this year while also debunking some common misconceptions that a lot of people have about marriage.
1. I learned that in a marriage, you have to work just as hard, if not harder, to maintain the quality of your relationship.
It’s so easy to say, “Okay, I already got her/him, so now we can just coast.” No! You have to do the work and put in the time to continue to have a great relationship. To explain this better, I’ll give you an analogy. Let’s say you won a nice gold trophy, and you put it up on your shelf so that it doesn’t get messed up and to admire your greatest accomplishment. Well, if you leave it where it is for months or even years without giving it the proper upkeep, it’s going to lose its shine and collect dust. The same thing goes for your marriage! If you want your marriage to stay great, you have to put in the time, energy, and effort to maintain that. Don’t stop doing things together, don’t stop loving each other, and don’t get complacent.
2. I learned that it’s okay to change.
There’s such a negative connotation surrounding the idea of changing — “You shouldn’t change who you are for a man or a woman.” To a certain extent, that is very true — the things that make you who you are should remain the same. But when your spouse comes to you and says that something that you’re doing is making them unhappy, it’s important that you do your best to adjust as much as you can. Obviously no change will happen over night, but your partner should have faith that you will listen to them and compromise with them to the best of your ability. If the roles were reversed, you would want your spouse to do the same for you, so it’s important to be be understanding and willing to compromise. Being stuck in your ways and unwilling to change only leads to resentment and frustrations, which can lead you down the wrong path in your marriage.
3. I learned that when you get married, not much should change about your relationship.
When you first get married, everyone always asks you, “Does it feel different? Did anything change?” Much to their surprise, my answer was always, “No.” Marlon and I have been together for almost seven years, and in that time, we already felt like we were husband and wife. So, when the time came to get married, nothing changed but my last name! I think it’s super important for people to understand that a piece of paper and a ring isn’t what makes a marriage. You have to have a ‘marriage mentality’ first. Before you get married, it should already feel like you’re married. Your foundation should be solid before you say, “I do,” because once the rice is swept up and you’re no longer on cloud nine from your wedding day, that foundation is the thing that’s going to keep you two afloat.
4. I learned that premarital counseling is going to do wonders for your marriage.
I mentioned before in a blog post last year that Marlon and I went to premarital counseling to ensure that we set ourselves up for success in our marriage. Many people think that counseling is only for when there is an issue in their relationship, but it’s a really great idea to go BEFORE any serious problems arise. Marlon and I were equipped with the tools we needed to sort through any problems that came up. While it hasn’t always been easy to use the tips from our therapist all the time, it’s definitely helped us this year.
5. I learned that the first year isn’t as hard as people make it out to be.
I’ve heard some say that the first year of your marriage will be the hardest, but that’s not the case for all people. It certainly wasn’t that way for us. Of course we’ve had our downs this year, but we got through all of them together, and it was nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. To counter this though, I have heard some people say that your marriage gets worse after your first year, but I’m not claiming that for us or for any of you out there 🙂 . We’re going to grow with our significant others, and we’re going to get stronger together!
All in all, I really enjoyed our first year of marriage. It flew by so quickly, and I’m looking forward to the next several years. If you want to get married, are about to get married, or are in your first year of marriage, my only piece of advice is to trust your own relationship. So many people who’ve had failed marriages have tried to deter us from getting married or scare us into thinking that marriage changes your relationship and your partner — do not listen to them. Trust your own judgment and listen to your heart because it won’t steer you wrong.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin