When we touched down from St. Lucia on October 28, 2008 after a week of honeymoon bliss in paradise, I suddenly felt a sense of gloom. I had taken the day after we returned off so that I could pick up our marriage license and drove right into a random snow shower. This was just great. Not only did I leave paradise for snow, but what was I going to do now? While there were still some wedding things to wrap up: thank you cards, finding a home for gifts, making deposits and changing my name, there wasn’t much else to get back to except reality.
My husband and I had lived together for about a year before we got married, so when I say back to reality, I mean back to laundry, dishes, bills, dogs and work. I guess you could say that we felt married before we were legally pronounced man and wife, and while that’s for sure not a bad thing, it made the whole ‘newlywed’ thing feel anti-climatic. But we still had some kinks to work out.
First, I’d like to point out that I’ve heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest; and I believe that to be true. Ours was very hard – my husband was laid off in January, four months into our marriage. But despite being concerned about money or finding him a job, we grew stronger because we committed to being a team; leaning on each other and always, always communicating. But there are other not so major things that come into play in the first year. Deciding who is going to manage the bills, (both) who washes the dishes, (him) who does laundry, (me) and who is the messiest (again, me). In between commercial breaks on Sunday nite football, I picked his brain a little bit to find out what he thought helped us get through the first year of marriage – here’s what he came up with:
COMMUNICATION – It sounds cliche, but boy does it work. Talking about even the little things, “Babe. It frustrates me that you leave your folded laundry in the basket for a week. Please put it away.” to “You know, I think we’d save a lot of money if we packed lunch each day instead of buying.” While these seem like simple convos, they need to happen. When you come home from work and you’ve had a bad day, talk about it. Its better than snapping at each other – just say, “I’ve had a tough day so I need a minute to download before we talk about plans this wekend; is that okay?” It works – trust me.
LAUGH – Nothing helps you relax and get through a sticky situation better than just taking a step back and trying to find the humor in it. But make sure you get a feel for your partners humor before you crack a joke during something serious or it will backfire. My husband has an amazing sense of humor. There are times when I need him to make me laugh because I take myself too seriously, but again, there are times when I need to say, “Babe, I know you think this is funny, but I’m not laughing right now. Maybe in a couple of hours it will be funny, but now I need you to be serious.” Hours later he’ll try again. “Too soon?” he’ll ask. “Too soon,” I say. And we laugh.
TOUCH – Be affectionate. I’m not saying it needs to be a PDA! Sometimes even sitting on opposite ends of the couch can make you feel disconnected from your partner, so every once in a while reach out and hold his hand. When you leave the room, walk past and touch his shoulder. That simple touch can go a long way with helping you both feel connected and affectionate with one another. It’s super simple and super powerful. And it makes you feel good.
It’s not always pretty - but it sure is fun. So enjoy these first couple of months being a couple! Discover each others quirks – make mistakes – fix them. Communicate and be honest with each other and always, always laugh together. You’ll be happy that you did.