I never really understood it when someone who's been married for a long time remarks that they love their spouse even more now than they did on their wedding day.
But now the hubs and I have been married for over a year and I completely get it. I'm going to be real with you guys-marriage is work.
We were engaged for almost two years- we paid for the majority of our wedding ourselves and dammit, I wanted a nice one! We also seem to be in the habit of accomplishing multiple milestones at once- we got engaged the day before the hubs moved to Florida to start a new job. We got married two weeks after moving to Washington for work and bought a house just a couple of months later.
Realistically I knew life wasn't going to just be a fairytale after saying "I do", but I don't think either of us anticipated how stressful the first year of marriage would be. He was adjusting to new responsibilities at work and I was (and still am) in a job I don't love.
Looking back, I think how useful it would have been if someone had told me the following.
1. Marriage changes nothing
The hubs and I had lived together for over a year before getting married. I do not regret this in the slightest- we had time to adjust to living with another person and what responsibilities that entailed. We had a budget worked out. There were zero surprises when we came back from our honeymoon. The downside? I feel like we didn't have that spark and romance of newlyweds. The issues we had before walking down the aisle were still present.
My suggestion? Figure out what works for you, whether that's waiting to move in together or not. But don't expect a happily ever after just because you said "I do".
2.Have the money talk before the wedding
The year and a half we were engaged we lived extremely poor. It's not that we didn't have money- we both had steady, full-time, decently paying jobs. Unfortunately about two weeks after we got engaged, my dad lost his job. We very quickly went from my parents paying for our wedding to being on the hook for the majority of costs ourselves. Because of this, I took a job that was absolutely miserable but well paying and deposited half of each paycheck into savings for the wedding. While this accomplished our goal of not charging anything for the wedding (we even had some leftover!), we didn't talk about what would happen afterwards.
I'm still in the same job. We moved across the country for work where the cost of living is practically double. We bought a house. While the new location and house make me extremely happy, I'm still trying to accomplish my goal of going back to school for my Master's and getting out of this job I have zero passion for.
So talk about your goals and dreams. Do you want to go back to school? When do you want to buy a house? Do you want to stay in one place for the rest of your life? Make a time line of when you want milestones to happen. Should anything change, call a timeout and talk it over.
3. Don't base your relationship off of others'
The majority of my group of friends all got married in the same year. All of them (except us) now have babies. It is so hard to not be jealous of them. I have to keep in mind that financially (and biologically) now simply isn't the right time for us.
Do whatever is right for your marriage. Just because everyone else is doing one thing doesn't mean that is what is right for you.
4. Be a team
Even now that we're married there are times I feel alone. Whether it's due to work schedules or simply something that's on my mind that isn't even on his radar, it still happens. And that's my fault. COMMUNICATE. He doesn't gain mind reading powers once he becomes your husband.
The same goes for communicating with others. In-laws take advantage of your Mr. Nice Guy husband? Tell him. I remember one time the hubs' family asked him for a favor and he said he would ask me and get back to them. I was PISSED. Even though I was dead set against him doing this favor, guess what it would look like if he turned around and told them no after talking to me.
So find ways to communicate with each other as well as others that strengthen your bond as a team rather than acting like two opposing players.
5. Go on dates
Sometimes we are a stereotypical married couple. PJ's on as soon as we get home from work, watching TV on the couch all night. And we love it.
But you still need to take time and look good for each other and GO OUT. Even if it's just to your local coffee shop to talk or to the theater to see the latest Hunger Games movie. It makes the other person feel appreciated as a partner and it's just fun!
So those are my top five tips for surviving the first year of marriage. Please don't think it sounds bleak and ominous - I absolutely love my husband and we've had an incredible year. We live in a place we LOVE (regardless of cost of living), have an amazing house I love working on projects for, and have an amazing puppy who is our fur baby. We've been to San Diego and Mexico and love exploring nearby Seattle. But marriage, like anything, takes work to be successful. I'm so blessed to have a husband who is willing to put in the work with me.