In a conversation the other day, it came out that my wife and I had just celebrated our first year anniversary. Amongst the congratulations and “good-for-yous”, someone said, “Don’t worry it gets better. The first year is always the hardest.” This was not new news to me. I had known the first year was the hardest from the first day we got back from our honeymoon. Now, you may be wondering what happened the first day back from our honeymoon. Let me tell you…absolutely nothing! It was just another perfect day in a string of perfect days of marital bliss. Yet, that was the first day someone decided to tell us how hard the first year of marriage was going to be.
Even now, it amazes me how many times in the last year I have heard the sympathetic words, “Oh…you’ve been married less than a year…don’t worry it gets better.” It’s as if the expectation is that once you get married the world would fall apart and you find yourself miserable. What a sad picture of marriage! I hate to disappoint anyone but, it’s just not true! Our first year of marriage has been amazing and easy. It has been one of the best years of my life, a true blessing from God.
Now, some may say that it’s out of overwhelming determination or sheer spite, but married life has been GREAT to us! When talking about our marriage, my wife always starts out with, “We’re not delusional…we know there are going to be hard times…but it has been an amazing first year!” I believe you get out of a marriage what you put into it. If you expect that you are going to lose all your individual identity and find yourself miserable, then I venture to say that you will. If you expect more out of married life and are willing to give…then I believe you will find it to be a great and amazing adventure as we have. It is not about what you lose but what you gain!
Over the last year I have had to redefine what marriage is in my head because what it has been for us has not matched up with what others have experienced. Some told us about how hard and challenging it is, giving advice on how to avoid one another in “those” moments. Others have shared stories of thirty years full of happiness without any harsh words or raised voices. Yet, neither of these pictures seem to encapsulate our first year of marriage. The only way I have found to describe marriage is by saying its complex. Amazing…wonderful…and complex!
The complexity of marriage is much like growing up. You learn…. grow….share… dream… and change. For us, the first year of marriage has been learning about ourselves and our partner. Learning what life looks like for two instead of one. We have grown beyond just thinking of ourselves and started to think of our partner first. We have learned how to share everything from a tiny bathroom in a three hundred and ninety five square foot apartment to a computer and even a bed. Learning to sleep with someone in the same bed is not as easy as it may sound. This first year of marriage has also taught us how to combine our dreams and seek the Lord’s will for us as a couple and not just as single minded people. We have been able to share our dreams and desires with one another and seek to build those into a life together.
In this process we have had to learn to change. I believe this what most newly married couples come to find as “hard” in their first year of marriage. For us it has been mostly easy as we have welcomed it. As for me…I learned long ago that I am not perfect and it is only through change that I will grow. I have many things in me that need to be built up and strengthened as well as things that need to diminish and be discarded. Married life is part of this process. My wife bring to the table things which I need and I things that she needs. It is through this combing, growing, and changing that we are finding married life to be so amazing. Like I said… it’s complex and will be an ever changing adventure. We are not delusional, we know there will be hard times, but for us this first year of marriage has been amazing. If it only gets easier from here, then all I have to say is…PRAISE GOD…and, BRING IT ON!