A YEAR of MARRIAGE: 5 Things I Have Learned This Year
Wow. I seriously cannot believe that a year of marriage has already come and gone! I mean, I had a feeling it would go fast but I didn't expect it to go THAT fast. This year has taught both me and Alex so much about not only each other, but also ourselves.
Before we got married, I remember hearing a lot of people say that the first year of marriage is hard. And even more than that, we were often told that it is the hardest year of marriage. Well, here we are, a year later, and while I will say that being married brings about new challenges, I would say even more so that it is the most rewarding year that I have had the privilege of experiencing.
On our anniversary, Alex and I spent time reflecting on this year of marriage and all that we had learned. We talked about our greatest joys and our deepest struggles, the best and the worst times, and then we talked about all that we were looking forward to in this next year. In our time of reflection there were a million things that we talked about that I could easily share with you about marriage, but I think these five things have been key for us in our first year of marriage.
Communication is Key.
I think that this probably goes without saying, but communicating isn't just about sharing what you're thinking. It's about how you share, when you share, and communicating in a way that is effective. Odds are, your spouse has a completely different communication style than you do, so you might think you are communicating well, when in reality all the other person is hearing is blah blah blah. I can't count how many times Alex and I have had an argument, only to find out that we are on the same side but communicated so poorly to the other person that we thought we were on completely different pages HAHA! Learning how to communicate with the other person so that you BOTH are heard is so key in having a successful marriage. Having an established communication pattern is incredibly important so that when trials and challenges come, you are able to effectively navigate your way through them together.
Kick That Selfishness To The Curb.
Okay, yeah. Everyone is selfish to some degree, but if you want to realize how selfish you really are, get married and your world will be rocked haha! You have to learn how to compromise with another person who has just as much say in everything you do and comes with their own selfish desires. Our selfishness showed up in the way we spent money, our activities, chores, time, literally everything! I would say it took me about ten months into our marriage before it finally started to click in my head what being selfless should look like.
Now, I'm not saying that you have to give up EVERYTHING you have ever loved or all of your desires. No way! What I am saying is that you are now married to someone with big dreams and goals that matter just as much as your own. The sooner you learn how to put your spouses desires above your own, the quicker you will be able to accomplish BOTH people's goals.
Everyone Has Expectations.
Whether you realize you have expectations or not, I am here to tell you ya do! When we got married I had expectations I didn't even realize where expectations (poor Alex lol!) Alex and I really had to work on communicating about our expectations rather than getting frustrated or upset when they weren't met. A big question we now habitually ask one another is "What is your expectation for..." (fill in the blank). This has helped us dodge some of the inevitable frustration when we don't communicate about what we are hoping to get out of something.
Find Ways To Play.
Initially this might sound silly, but it is so crucial in having a successful marriage! When we grow up, there is so much pressure to work hard, cross things off to-do lists, and be incredibly goal orientated. All of these things are absolutely important, but playing and having fun is JUST as important. Studies have actually shown that the more you have fun and play as an adult, the more successful you are when it comes to buckling down and getting things done. Marriage is a lot of work, but it is also meant to be FUN. So have fun with your spouse! Play games, be silly, go out and do actives that you both love. Whenever Alex and I take time to truly and deeply enjoy one another's company, we always feel so rejuvenated and refreshed and it helps us find JOY in the other person. So let loose and laugh with your spouse! It will do you a world of good.
Always Find New Things To Love About Your Spouse.
I think there is something in our society that makes us worried that the person we originally fell in love with won't be the same person in 5. 10, or 20 years down the road. Guess what? It's true! But it is definitely NOT a bad thing! Who wants to be the same person they were in high school? Umm, not me! Just as I want to grow and change, so does Alex. We will never be the same person tomorrow as we were yesterday. So as your spouse changes and grows, find new things to love about them and encourage them as they pursue the person they are called to be. Growing up doesn't mean growing apart. Alex and I had lots of growing pains since we started dating our senior year of high school, but I am so thankful that we grew together through all of our changes and that we continue to do that. We are always learning more about ourselves and each other, it's part of the fun of getting older. So as you go through growing pains in your marriage, find new ways to fall in love all over again. It will help you through those hard times and reignite the fire you have for the other in a new way.
Marriage is truly the best and I am so excited to continue to learn, grow, and gain wisdom with my best friend!!