Marriage

Advice For The 1st Year of Marriage

“Love is not about constantly fighting to keep someone in your life. It is about constantly fighting for a better life together.”

― Shannon L. Alder

“The hardest times to choose love are the very times when you can most grow spiritually. In fact, they are the only times you can grow spiritually!”

― Gary Zukav

“There is no fear when you choose love. The more you choose love, the more love is in your life. It gets easier and easier.”

― Melissa Etheridge

There are a few events in life that seem to warrant unsolicited advice – graduation, engagements, weddings and motherhood. I’ve never been much for it if I were to be honest. In fact, I dreaded calls from aunts and family friends around the time before I got married because the lunch treat would either turn into a lecture or 21 questions. If you’re newly married and are wondering if it stops, sorry to break it to you – it doesn’t.

Marriage is just a stick your nose in it affair. People just want in to know what makes you tick, what challenges you’ve conquered, when you’re having kids. Aiaiaiaiai. I talked about my nelwywed days in the video below if you’re interested and have 12 minutes to spare.

Here’s the thing though, listen to the advice (if you can’t get out of it) but know that it may not work for you. People tend to prescribe rather give you the tools to fix your own medicine. Oh well. Back to the story.

Being a newlywed is some kind of a dream. You got the guy or girl of you dreams, you’re building forever together and it’s something else. But there’s so much work in between and learning how to be married that goes on during your first year.

I shared a few things I thought would be helpful as it helped me through my first year. Consider this a cheat code of sorts so grab your life PS5, hold down L2, press X and R3 and you’re set.

  • 1st year is when you create the narrative in your head about your spouse and yourself

After you say I do to the person you’ve dated and been engaged to for some time, there’s a whole world of knowing each other waiting.

You might see patterns not just in them but also in yourself and it can be easy to miss the dating days when it was “easier.” You know, the days when you would have a disagreement and part ways so you can process.

As you do life with someone, you get to know their ins and outs, stuff you were clueless about when dating and this closeness (even when the stuff you get presented with isn’t pleasant) can be a blessing depending on your perspective.

I always practiced intentionally think good thoughts concerning my husband and I started during our honeymoon. The thoughts were in and around – he loves me. He desires the best for me. He is a blessing. I’m lucky to have him in my life. He means well and has the best at heart for me.

And when do all these thoughts count the most? When you’ve argued and are afraid.

Closeness and intimacy (having your hearts knit and wrapped into each other inseparably like vine) are synonymous. If you allow that thought that will have you flee take root in your mind, then chances are you’ll think it best to flee.

  • 1st year is when you see your fighting personalities

To paint a picture, you know how in all those battle games (Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter) there’s a character profile? This is an example of what it could probably read in marriage. It’s not exhaustive but it paints a picture.

HUSBAND

Background:

  • From broken home
  • Never had a father
  • Middle child of 3
  • Only lasting relationship is with mother and pet dog

Fight styles:

  • Throws hands in argument
  • Walks away mid-sentence
  • Last to apologize

Difficulty level: 10

WIFE

Background:

  • From a 2 parent home but both parents were busy
  • Enjoyed a sense of freedom from a young age
  • First born of 5

Fight styles:

  • Raises voice in argument
  • Has mum and best friend on speed dial
  • First to apologize
  • Not easily threatened (don’t dare her or you’ll regret it)

Difficulty level: 10

I hope you were writing you and your spouse’s own character profile because most of the time, our background and relationships (family, friends, past loves) affect how you fight.

The good news is marriage will help rewrite it.

If you work hard at it, your fail safe fight styles will eventually die after getting weaker and weaker over the years and you’ll both spring for closeness doing whatever it takes to get there.

  • 1st year will grow your fear or faith

It’s like an incubator so there’s always a pull toward the light or dark. Whatever you shine a light on will grow and become thoughtless and reflexive so it’s best to build good habits. Like I shared, mine was mostly in the thought level but that impacted my emotions and actions.

Hence point 1.

Intentionally think good thoughts concerning them. Believe against belief in the moment. Give them the benefit of doubt.

  • 1st year is when you learn how to really apologize

In the video I shared earlier on, I shared that sorry (meaningful, intentional and action deep) has saved many marriages.

In any relationship, because the two are different, there’s bound to be misunderstandings. Sorry and apologizing builds a bridge back to connection.

Do you know that your 5 love languages determine your apology language and that of your spouse?

Withdraw that which makes them feel loved and the narrative in their head may change if their resolve is weak.

Many times, we think we only apologize when we’re in the wrong. Well, hello marriage!

Even if you meant the best and are in the right on something you said or did, if your partner was hurt in the process, it would be best to apologize because harm was done. Makes sense, right?

I think every day is a day to make your spouse know that you love and chose them and that you always will.

And this is more so when things get heated.

  • 1st year will need you to build a fort and stronghold for the good times

It’s not enough to only think good thoughts like I said in point 1 but to use them to build walls of refuge in the uncertain and tough times like when your spouse is still processing something.

A fort or a stronghold can endure any weather changes and perhaps a good place to build your fort is with memories of your wedding, honeymoon and wonderful moments after. I kept a few through journaling in aa book and blogging. That came in so handy.

And to show you how these tools I shared above are tried, tested and true, allow me to paint a picture of my own first year of marriage from a few pieced together entries in my previous website.

Month 2

“Month two has been hard for me as a person. I’ve been a wildfire, a volcano, and a sea calm before a storm. A lot has been raging in me, and I’ve felt the weight of that press into our marriage. A lot of things that I thought were resolved in my heart have shown their head and I’ve had to deal with them, look them in the eye and settle them without pushing pause. Without retreating.”

Month 4

“That’s how month 4 has been for us. I called it fever month. Let me explain. You know how you can be fine one moment only for your temperature to spike in seconds? Plus, the weather is cool, but there you are sweating with your blood up to a boil even though your arms are cool to the touch. Or times when your head is the only thing burning. Oh! And the rashes that come with it all. That’s how it’s been this month.

But hothead and fever spikes are always responses to internal or external stimuli and this is true: The pain and discomfort of a situation is 10% of it all but 90% of it is your reaction. How we’ve both reacted to words said and accompanying actions has been the source of our fevers. It all goes back to the mind and how we process things – reaction vs response.

The stresses of everyday life demands along with disappointments can make a couple lazy to do this. We’ve been wind-whipped folks. Me, because I was in and out of bouts of sadness and disappointment due to the way that my life was looking like. To be honest, if it wasn’t for me encouraging myself with the posts that I write on this blog, I’d have been in a worse of space. For David, he’s at a transition point of his life, so that and projects that have taken months to materialize haven’t been easy on the lining of his heart. The truth is, we know better. We do. It’s always easier said than done.

What I’m glad about is that we find ourselves back in each other’s arms again and laughing about our tiffs. Reactions tend to cause the silliest of responses to come out of anyone’s mouths and they make for a good laugh.”

Month 6

“A quick one: So, moving forward, I’d like you to think of the title of this post as That Fraudulent Feeling. Or, Some days I feel like an impostor. Or, how is it being married to me? No. I’ve got it – That One Time I Thought I sucked as a couples fellowship leader. Sounds about right.

So, where do I start? During (more like somewhere in the middle of) an early December conversation that was healing and just about the equivalent of unplugging a clogged drain, my friend Mercy told me that the best thing I could give those preparing to get married this year is the truth. Raw. Unfiltered. No make-up. That conversation came a day after I was done and dusted, ready to quit on serving as a leader in the relationships docket in my church fellowship.

You see, I had been going crazy the last couple of weeks prior to our meeting. I was dissatisfied and a little crazy, positively certain that I had thrown mud on the institution of marriage. Why? Well, I felt like a fraud. David and I went from the honeymoon and right into Fall in all its uncertainty. There was so much life in between to deal with. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married. So much that’s unexpected and stuff, really, comes in the way and has an impact on a wife and husband. It made us easily irked and irksome. It caused a lot of quiet days and nights. But it also brought moments of colour that burst any (insignificant) spurts we were in.

Still, I walked around with that fraudulent feeling that made me wonder what qualified me to speak to couples in my fellowship, most of whom were reserved. And to answer your question, that would be God. He’s the one who signed me up, badge and all. Wouldn’t have picked this if it were up to me. But sometimes, I’d look at the choice vessels God was making of David and I and really wonder. “You know how to pick ’em Lord.” I’d spend nights making mental notes to find and attend a couples fellowship, preferably of 1st years in marriage simply to see if it was just me wildly riding this thing.

Also, to determine my sanity. I never got that far. Instead, I’d rest it out and just hope that people (read mostly life) would burst my fellowship’s relationship bubbles so we can do real. Can I get a witness? Lord! So what unrealistic expectations about marriage are coming to light in my life in this here month 5?

That marriage is between 2 imperfect people thing is hella true! We marry flawed people guys. Hold up. We are the flawed people. And flawed people need grace, which by the way might just be the invisible glue for such a (bad statistics) pair. And grace needs to be both given and received. I’ve sung this song here a billion times so much that it’s sorta my marriage anthem. The first to surrender (say sorry, compromise etc) wins. And yes. Both of you get to move on to the next level. So if you’re looking for armour to guard your marriage, you’ll never go wrong arming yourself with sorrys.

NOTE: This isn’t the same as when someone repeatedly hurts you, does wrong by you and uses sorry as permission for their guilty conscience. No way Josè. Sorry should mean something E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.M.E. Don’t use it otherwise.

There are different seasons in marriage but you know what I love? Seasons change. Yes God.”

Month 10

“It’s been roughly 10 months since we got married. Feels like forever. It does. Maybe it’s because we’re where we’re supposed to be in each other’s lives and life’s much better when you get to spend it by each other’s side. So blessed that we get to spend a huge amount of time together because of our work schedules. It’s made us so knit together like twine and made our relationship so rich. I totally see that God wants us to build a strong foundation on this before our lives get busier with work and little ones.”

Looking back is so precious. I appreciate how I’ve grown and who I’m becoming.

Also, I’m bolder, more confident (I’d rather be 100% myself, as messy as it can be, than be anyone else) and happier than I have ever been. And it’s not because the summer I longed for post Fall season 1st year of marriage is with us now.

I know I talked about it deeper here in my round up of the first year but I’ll say it again: It takes time to fit together as a couple. Enjoy your becoming and your broken places that are healing. That’s where your light shines the brightest beautiful you Kintsugi work of art you!

Feel free to share this with someone you know who’d need  this grace and you can subscribe because I do this on the regular.

xo my dear,

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