5 Things I Discovered in My First Year of Marriage
My wife Katie and I celebrated our one-year anniversary Sunday!
Time's a funny thing; it feels like just yesterday that we read our vows to each other and yet somehow 10 years ago that we said "I do." How is it that time can fly far too quickly and drag all too slowly at the same time?
A lot’s happened in the past year – we’ve faced unemployment, started new jobs, moved, began attending a new church, and started a beer adventure blog not to mention all the daily nuances of learning to share your entire life with someone.
Here are just five of the many things I've discovered for myself in the past year. If you're already married, you may relate; if you're not yet married, you may find these to be true one day:
How Easy It Is to Share a Bed
I was surprised at how easy it became to share my bed with someone. For 27 years, my bed was my first love (with the exception perhaps of my family and a few close friends). I loved my bed – the way it was all mine to sprawl out in, the way I could wrap myself up in all its sheets and covers and blankets, the way it felt like my safe and quiet place. Even after travelling different parts of the world, my bed has always been my favorite place to come back to. So I couldn’t imagine sharing it with someone else. I used to joke before Katie and I got married that we were going to get our own Queen-sized beds and just push them together so we didn’t have to share one. Well, we didn’t. But sharing a bed has become surprisingly natural. Turns out, I don’t really need all that much space to sleep after all.
How Difficult it is to Pick a Dog
Katie grew up with dogs; I didn’t. But we both love dogs and happen to live in an apartment complex that allows pets. We regularly see a variety of dog sizes, breeds and personalities that has in recent months given us the worst case of puppy fever. We’ve had a number of conversations about getting a dog, but we can never seem to agree on the type of dog to get. For one, it needs to be hypo-allergenic; we’re both allergic to dogs. Unfortunately, that really limits our options. While I’m still open to dog breeds that shed – huskies, corgis, beagles have been some of my favorites – Katie’s allergies continue to be a priority in the breeds she prefers. While I want a medium- to large-sized dog to run and play with, Katie prefers a smaller, milder dog. I’m content visiting an animal shelter to see what’s there and if any furry guy stands out to us while Katie would rather have a pre-decided breed and get it as a puppy. Turns out deciding on a dog as a newly married couple is a lot harder than I would have imagined.
How Selfish I Can Be of My Time and Energy
There have been times in the past year I’ve been acutely aware of how selfish I am, particularly with my time and energy. Whether it’s coming home from work tired and just wanting to watch my own show, Katie being upset about something and needing my attention and empathy or any number of situations or occasions in-between, I’ve been often-reminded of what love in a marriage really looks like, and oftentimes it’s selflessness. I think a lot of people tend to marry for the convenience or “in love” feeling; but real love in a marriage is a whole lot more than that. I won’t pretend to have it all figured out or mastered; it’s just a lesson of the past year I know I’ll still be learning for years to come.
Chicken Strips and French Fries Three Times a Week are NOT Acceptable Dinners
Prior to meeting Katie, I was a bachelor living in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. I wasn’t lazy by any means, but I was pretty unenthusiastic about some things, not least of which was cooking. Cooking for one is the worst and probably a punishment in some level of hell. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Still, my wallet preferred cooking for one at home over eating out, and chicken strips and French fries became an easy and regular dinner option for me (I really was like a big child). After meeting Katie – and especially after marrying her – I quickly discovered that my happy meal-like dinners just weren’t going to cut it. Katie prefers a well-balanced meal – meat (or some form of protein), starch and fruits or vegetables. I know that’s how it’s supposed to be anyways, but I generally prefer swapping my fruits and veggies for something like ice cream or an adult beverage. Let’s just say my diet’s been quite a bit different the past year.
Relationships Outside of Marriage are Important, Too
While all those life changes I mentioned up at the beginning of the article were necessary and I think good for Katie and me, they’ve each had their own consequences and ramifications to our new life together. One of the most obvious has been the change in our relationships with people, especially with friends. My life has sort of been a routine of making and leaving friends every three years -- college friends, friends in South African, friends in Oklahoma. It's not been an intentional cycle, but but life happens, and relationships require time and effort that sometimes is difficult to keep up. Katie, on the other hand, has maintained very important relationships with family and friends since she was young, and some of the life-changes since getting married have really tried those relationships. And while marriage is absolutely a good thing -- I'm glad I have Katie, and I know she's glad to have me -- I think it’s equally important that we have other meaningful relationships – whether friends, church groups, Thursday night volleyball teams, acting troupes or whatever circles of people we find ourselves in. It’s been hard for Katie and me to find and create some of those circles in the past year, and we've been craving meaningful friendships and relationships. But I think we’re finally starting to find some as we pursue new opportunities and commitments.
The discoveries and lessons of the past year can hardly be summed up in just five points, but I thought them worth sharing and hope you can learn from -- or at least appreciate -- my first year of marriage.