Here’s the dichotomy of what the first year of marriage taught me: even though it was fun and exciting, and we finally were able to live together and enjoy life together as a married couple, there was another side to the story I wasn’t expecting. It came with this very sobering reality that marriage is not for me. Marriage is not always going to make me happy, fulfilled, and whole.
Before Brian and I were married, I imagined my first year of marriage to be AMAZING! The time of my life! We were both working full time, planning the wedding, and allll of the tiniest little details. So many details. And then on top of that we were meeting with someone for premarital counseling. Life was FULL. There was so much busyness, and so much hype around it all. But I thought as SOON as the wedding was over, as soon as we got married, it would finally be easy.
I imagined going through the typical honeymoon phase with my new husband: we would get married, we would ride off into the sunset, we would go on our honeymoon, and then we would come back home and start our life together. The pictures in my head were very peaceful. All was right with the world and all was right with me, and all of our busyness and tension would dissipate now that we had exchanged vows and cut the cake.
But that was not the case. Literally, on day three of our honeymoon was our first warning sign that all of this expectation wasn’t going to match up. We got into an argument, and I clammed up. On my honeymoon. And then we got home and had one of the biggest fights we’ve ever had.
What I didn’t realize was while you’re feeling these intense highs of a new and wonderful season of life, you’re probably also experiencing the lowest of lows with conflict of a new spouse. I learned the hard way that life is not perfect when you’re married, and it certainly doesn’t solve all of your problems.
First, I want to step out and say it’s okay, and it’s normal. It’s normal to not have your reality meet your expectations in your first year of marriage.
But this can be scary! Having the biggest fights in your relationship during the first year of marriage can make you question everything. Is this how it’s always going to be? What have I done? Why do I feel lonely even when I have a spouse? All of these result in conflict that we have to work out, either in ourselves or with our spouse.
Which is my second piece of advice: I want to encourage you that this is actually a good thing because it’s a growing thing.
The questions and the conflict are signs of you being humans working things out together. This is where you figure out how to put your spouse’s desires and needs above yours. Before you got married, you were able to choose how you spent your time, your money, and your energy. That’s not the case when you get married! It’s hard, but it brings you together and helps you to become more selfless.
Finally, my number one recommendation is to be open and vulnerable with a friend or mentor because chances are they feel the exact same way or they have absolutely been there.
You’re not going to shock anyone who is married when you tell them that your first year of marriage isn’t what you expected. Everyone’s going to agree because everyone went through it. Because chances are, they’re just going to be nothing but encouragement for you and they’re going to make you feel so normal.
So I encourage you to talk with your new spouse and make your needs known. I talked a little about that before; it’s so important to communicate where you’re at and how you’re struggling. You don’t need to feel shame or embarrassment about it. Like I learned my first year, marriage is not for me, it is for us to grow together into better versions of ourselves.