I can’t believe that I have been married for over one year.
As someone who thought I was destined to become a crazy dog-lady, I am happy to be sharing my life with my husband and now our child together. Time flies by especially when you’re having fun (or sleep deprived, I can’t tell which one it is). There are many lessons I learned about myself and about our marriage (and what works for a marriage) over the past year. There are also so many memories that I won’t forget (like when the OB placed our firstborn child on my chest). There are also memories that I look forward to create.
Here are five lessons I learned in my first year of marriage.
you grew up differently so gentle reminders are important
Seriously one of the things that I had to keep reminding my husband is about recycling. I think he has selective hearing about this or is just completely confused with the whole thing. He grew up not recycling and I grew up recycling. I was Ms. Greenpeace in my graduation yearbook and I love making sure paper is recycled, toilet paper rolls are recycled, cartons are recycled, and food is composted. I kept (keep) finding toilet paper rolls in the garbage can, see cans in the garbage can, and plastic in the compost. It’s not a big deal, I just tell him and put the toilet paper roll in the recycling bin. And then see another toilet paper roll in the garbage can a few weeks later. I think I have seen a toilet paper roll in the garbage can about 10 times in the past year, haha!
I give a gentle reminder to myself that my husband didn’t grow up recycling. Each of those 10 times I found a toilet paper roll in the garbage.
you’ll need to talk about finances
Whether as a couple you decide to do a joint account and separate individual accounts, or completely amalgamate everything together, or keep things completely separate, you’ll need to talk about your finances. Especially if there’s income inequality within your relationship to avoid the big “R” from creeping in (resentment).
You’re one year in towards building a life together, your goals will ultimately manifest as your money goals. Especially if that means both of you want to make the recipe for FIRE.
If you do joint finances, what is considered joint? My husband and I discussed that things we use together are considered joint. But for almost a year, I was paying for the Netflix (I had Netflix before we got married) and yet watched it the least. Now, I wasn’t getting resentful because it really was only $9.99, but a short discussion changed it to a joint expense. My husband is watching Netflix as I write this.
you’ll keep reminsicing about your wedding
We got married in Hawaii and it was a great wedding. It was quite the organization challenge to plan the wedding from the mainland of North America, but it turned out great and we have fantastic memories about our wedding day, and the days surrounding our wedding. Of course, if we spent too much I don’t think we will have as fond memories- we were very happy with our small guest list (50 people) and our very manageable budget. I’m glad we got a professional photographer rather than his friend who ‘takes great photos’ and I’m glad we chose his suggestion of a venue rather than my initial suggestion.
See? Compromise in action, even before marriage!
you might go to bed angry but it will be okay (as long as you talk about it eventually)
One of the suggestions in our wedding guest book (we asked our guests to give some marriage and family advice) was to ‘never go to bed angry’. I admit, there were some nights that we went to bed angry.
As I stewed, not being able to fall asleep, I would think that our marriage was doomed because we went to bed angry and we were going against this sage, ingrained, “perfect-marriage” advice.
Sure, it didn’t feel very good to go to bed angry, but then we talked about it the next day when we were both in a better state of mind.
having a kid changes everything
I can’t stress this enough. Having a kid changes everything! Having a solid relationship foundation, I would say, is very important to a solid relationship when you have a newborn. Sleep deprivation changes you, makes you irritable for no reason, and both HANGRY and angry.
Some days you might feel like ships passing through the night, when the only meaningful conversation between the two of you is “did you change the diaper? Do you think he’s getting a diaper rash?”
You will both be in survival mode, and survival mode usually means people are not feeling their best, which means irritability if there’s no coffee or caffeine on the premises. Out of the newborn fog, after the first few weeks, your relationship will improve and you will be able to have meals together again… sometimes (thank goodness for the play gym where a baby can entertain himself or herself while mom and dad eat). Other times, you will tell your partner to eat first while you feed the baby, and return to a cold dish, only to eat it as fast as you can because the baby is fussing again.
Sometimes I think new-parenting is basically eating cold meals and eating it as fast as you can.
Not everything is irritability and survival mode though- the amazement you both feel that you have this beautiful child in front of you is, without sounding cliche, a miracle.
Readers, do you have any lessons you learned in your first year of marriage/ parenting/ living together?