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Wedding Graduate: A Year Later


I’ve been hoping for a while that we could start this feature – wedding graduates checking back in after a year (or two or three) of marriage, and telling us where they are, and what they learned. And…. what do you know? This feature just spontaneously started itself. When I wrote a post reminding y’all to submit your wedding graduate posts, and pay it forward, Michelle sent me this. Her wedding went up a APW year ago – before I made everyone write wedding graduate posts (back then, we had real wedding posts, where people wrote about the creative/ thrifty/ sane aspects of their day). Since Michelle never got to write a post really reflecting on what she learned planning her wedding, she was first in line to write a post about what she’d learned in her first year of marriage (bless her!). So, I bring you Michelle, the very first post-wedding graduate:
Wedding Graduate: A Year Later | A Practical Wedding

A year ago, I was a week away from my wedding.  I was excited and nervous and had a list of things that still needed to be done.  I just wanted to share what it’s been like since then, in case anybody is feeling overwhelmed by the list and the budget and the handmade out-of-towner gift bags… but now, I’m just married.

When I talk to older relatives or friends, they ask what “surprises” came up in our first year of marriage. They have a crazy grin on their faces, excited to hear us start in on some spat about how I’m not a good cook or how he leaves beard hairs on the bathroom sink.  They want us to admit that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

After I got that question a few times, I started to wonder what we had learned in our first trip around the sun together.  There were, of course, some small housekeeping things (literally and figuratively) that had to be worked out at first — different styles of doing laundry, he likes red meat/I like chicken, the basics. But past that, there wasn’t really any new information to discover about Josh.  I’ve known for years that he can be stubborn, and he needs an hour after work to collect his thoughts before he’ll talk about his day. These things weren’t shocking to me.  The uncomfortable moments came when I realized that I didn’t have as much patience as I thought, or that I hold grudges, or that I wake up angry if we go to bed after a fight.When I see the unconditional love that Josh has for me, it inspires me to be the kind of person that warrants that love. I could get away with my not-so-nice tendencies when I was on my own because they only affected me.  But now that I’m part of this unit, I can see the responsibility that we have to each other to be the best people that we can be.  I want to be kinder and more forgiving so that I can be a better emotional support to him.  And as I grow, it motivates him to do the same so he can continue to feel like he’s earning the respect and love that I have for him.  It’s the best kind of feedback loop, really.  We are constantly learning.

Aside from that, the biggest thing that’s changed post-wedding is how at home I feel.  When we were dating and engaged, we lived 600 miles apart.  I had a large group of friends, my own apartment, and a job that I loved.  I paid my bills and went to class every day and just all-around felt like a grownup.  I was in charge of my life!  I did what I wanted!  But… now as I look back at that time in my life, it strikes me that I don’t feel like that person anymore.  I loved watching movies with friends and being incredibly busy, but the overwhelming feeling as I look back is loneliness.  I was missing a large chunk (approximately half) of myself, and I didn’t realize that that half was Josh.  Now that we can share meals and read books in bed together, I feel like my heart has been restored to the condition that it was meant to be in.  I can ask questions about what we’ll name our kids someday, because I don’t have to be afraid of that freaking him out.  If I have a bad day at work, I can come home and cry and complain and not worry about the fact that I probably have snot all over me.  And when he has a problem with a friend or school or whatever, it’s finally starting to sink in that I am the person that he’ll come to.  It just takes away all those worries and soothes your soul to know that you’re both in this for keeps.

So.  A year after our beautiful, personal, joy-filled wedding, I get to rest in the fact that I will always be growing, and Josh and I will be holding each other up every step of the way.

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  • http://faithintruth.wordpress.com Faith

    “When I see the unconditional love that Josh has for me, it inspires me to be the kind of person that warrants that love. I could get away with my not-so-nice tendencies when I was on my own because they only affected me. But now that I’m part of this unit, I can see the responsibility that we have to each other to be the best people that we can be.”

    This is what I’m looking forward to most. Beautiful post and congratulations on one year!

    • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

      I absolutely agree with that quote! Having been married just over a year now as well, I see that as one of the main challenges for me. It can be easy to fall into a crabby place where I snap at my hubs over nothing in particular (and usually something that has nothing to do with him to begin with…) simply because he is the only person around and I’m having a bad day. I’ve learned (and am working hard on) stepping out of that moment and being a person I’d be proud to let my grandma see. If I wouldn’t want her to see something I just did or said, then I probably shouldn’t have done or said it. (My grandma was the most amazing woman ever, by the way. She’s what I strive to be when it comes to treating others. I definitely never saw her flip out because she was stressed out or crabby – and the woman had 9 kids! So if she could handle that – I’m pretty sure I can handle being married with one dog. haha)

      So thanks for this post Michelle (and Meg!) – it is just another great reminder about working to be a better person for your spouse (& yourself, obviously). :)

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      this is the part that resonated most with me, as well. sometimes, i know that i just don’t deserve how much josh loves me. he sees me at my worst, and he still loves me in such awe-inspiring ways. it makes me want to become a better person. and it makes me love him even more- which always seems impossible, but still continues to happen daily.

    • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

      This quote is the best description of a deep spiritual love that I’ve heard in a while. My ass has officially been kicked by how awesome it is.

  • http://anyotherweding.blogspot.com/ Fliss

    Beautiful post and love the idea. Looking forward to more wedding post grads….

    Faith I agree totally. We are writing this into our wedding prayer (we’re getting married in the Church of England, so can’t change our vows, but can write our own prayer to say thank you and ask for support).

    I want to thank everyone for making me into the person that I am now, because that’s who my man fell in love with, and I want to ask for help to stay that person that he fell in love with.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Yay! More wedding grads! Wedding grad + 1 year!

    Michelle, I want to “EXACTLY” this whole post. I love love love that you are mature/wonderful enough to look at things as “what can I change about myself” because that’s the only real thing we can change.

    Happy one year! Thanks for sharing the wisdom!

  • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

    “If I have a bad day at work, I can come home and cry and complain and not worry about the fact that I probably have snot all over me.”

    … do you also work in childcare?

    • http://mrsmichelley.blogspot.com Michelle

      Hah, I cracked up when I read that! That would be a much more attractive explanation, but in reality I am just very … enthusiastic when I cry.

      • Rizubunny

        I am totally with you on this one. I am not a pretty cry-er at all. I get all squinty and snotty and gulp-y and incoherent. It is absolutely amazing to have someone who is completely OK with that.

        And…thank you so much for this whole post.

      • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com Kinzie Kangaroo

        Haha oh dear. Yeah, when I have my … more traumatic days (or days when I come home and just feel like crying), my own snot gets mixed with the snot of the two year olds I see every day. Pretty crying is for suckers.

  • Megan

    Yay for wedding post-docs! Congrats!

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny

    LOVE this: “not worry about the fact that I probably have snot all over me.”

    It really is such an incredible, beautiful thing to experience love like that when you feel at your worst.

  • Shelly

    Oh Michelle, I am so thankful for your words! With less than three months left until our wedding, I’m struck by how much different this long-distance situation feels now that we are engaged. Where before, during our dating years, I was content to be independent, living my own life that sometimes happened to coincide with his, I have been feeling a big sense of loneliness recently that has nothing to do with my social schedule. I can’t wait to get to that point you’ve experienced where I “feel like my heart has been restored to the condition that it was meant to be in”

    • CarMar

      My husband and I were in a situation similar to Michelle and Shelly’s, and it was so great to see someone articulate how it feels now that they are finally together! I was so worried that I would feel sad to “lose” my independence that I valued when we were long distance, and I lived along, but now I just feel at “home.”

  • http://roughit.wordpress.com Roughit

    Meg and Michelle, I love this! Thank you for sharing.
    This jumped out at me: “The uncomfortable moments came when I realized that I didn’t have as much patience as I thought, or that I hold grudges, or that I wake up angry if we go to bed after a fight.”
    I think this is the part that happens after you settle into your relationship, and it’s a hard adjustment to make. I wonder, sometimes, if it’s delayed in the excitement of the wedding/pending marriage… but sometimes it slips in through the cracks. Thanks for sharing this – sometimes, beforehand, it can be scary when these things happen (“am I not happy? is this not going to be the perfect marriage?!”), but once I regain my sanity I realize that these things will probably happen sometimes for all of our lives together, and that’s okay.

  • Jennifer

    I love this as a new feature! And I love that Michelle is the first one – when I first found APW and started poring through the past posts, that wedding was one that really stuck with me for some reason.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    What a great new addition to the site! Thank you, Meg!

    This is exactly why I’m looking forward to being married. Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

    • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

      Agreed. Keep these comin’, Meg!

  • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    The entire 3rd paragraph Rocked. My. World.

  • April

    Love this new addition and what a gorgeously written, heartfelt and lovely post this morning. Thanks Meg & Michelle! And to Michelle – happy 1 year to you and your hubby!

  • http://tinyglimpses.blogspot.com Meg

    Michelle, congratulations on your year of marriage. This is a gorgeous post, with everything beautifully and eloquently stated.

    The third paragraph spoke directly to my heart about my aspirations for my own marriage (and may be adapted a bit for my own vows, if that’s okay).

    The fourth paragraph reminded me that I’m not the only one who’s had to endure a long-distance relationship, and how great I’m going to feel when my far-away fella becomes my always-at-my-side husband.

    Thank you for this. It was just what I needed to read today.

  • Maddie

    “But now that I’m part of this unit, I can see the responsibility that we have to each other to be the best people that we can be.”

    YES.

    We’ve been married for about a year and a half and for the first year or so it was all fun and games because we didn’t have any REAL responsibilities to each other. I spent 80% of my week at work and when I’d get home we would settle in and make some food and watch Buffy.

    But recently we adopted a special needs dog who takes up all of our energy and time and it’s definitely initiated some not-so-niceness to each other. However this mutual responsibility has also given us the chance to re-discover each other and how we operate as a team And I think that’s the real reward of this initial phase of your marriage. You have this opportunity to take the difficulties and frustrations and you can either internalize them until you wanna strangle each other, or you can use the opportunity as a chance to work together and become a stronger unit. The moments where we work through stuff together are the best moments we have together.

    P.S. We taught our big oaf of a dog to swim last weekend and it was the most awesome team-effort ever.* Though this isn’t her, it looked pretty much exactly like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq4tHGRl6hg.

    *Yes, we’ve become the people who are obsessed with their dog. We are shameless and we are proud.

    • Vmed

      Exactly!

      At the beginning of June my rescue dog (had her one year, still working on lots-o-issues) and I moved in with my then boyfriend. That was awesome fun, quiet, lovely. Bliss.

      Two weeks later he adopted a baby high energy puppy. You know, according to plan. The plan to turn everything on its head. We each took time off work to start the housetraining right, and it’s objectively going really well, but DAMN if you want to test a growing relationship, coparent two needy canines (the kind with teeth and tiiiiny bladders).

      We try our best and make mistakes and have to forgive ourselves and each other but point it out gently and make a new plan and start over.

      Same token: if you want to feel like a team, overcome incredible obstacles together.

      And it was during the second week of having that puppy (on a day I was SO exhausted by both dogs before 6am that I ugly-cried all over my guy) that we got officially engaged. Which is nice because while he or I might not be able to handle my dog plus his dog, WE most certainly can handle OUR dogs.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    As a gal nearing the one year mark, I second and third many of the things that Michelle has to say. I have noticed that many things about the wedding fade away while many things shine brighter.

  • Alyssa

    Ooohhhhh….SO awesome. And SO true, I’ve felt like this the last nine months of our marriage MANY a time. A marriage or even a long-term relationship holds such a mirror up to your face and shows you not only all your quicks and bad habits, but your strengths too.

    Michelle, you are lovely. (And we totally do the name thing too. It was strange when we first broached it, but now it’s nothing for us to be sitting quietly and for one of us to pop up, “How about ______?” Never knew such a small thing could have an odd comfort….)

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      the name thing comes in handy.

      just in case you decide your uterus won’t notice if you take a break from the pill til next week, when insurance kicks in.

      and then, whaddya know. bun in the oven. and you’re not ready in the slightest.

      but you DO have the name picked.

      • Alyssa

        Dude, if you jinx me, I’m writing your name on every diaper before I put it on that kid’s butt so they can poop on you.

        On a sidenote, *SQUEE* Congrats!! I didn’t know you had a blog and I’m now a follower and will be stalking you electronically.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          thanks!

          and also.

          gross.

          • Alyssa

            I’m all class.

          • meg

            You TWO.

          • http://christytylerphotography.blogspot.com Christy

            Wow – and thanks to this post I just realized that if you clicked on people’s names it sends you to their blog, or what have you! Fun fun. Now I have 20 more blogs to obsessively check of people I’ve never met in person. :) ha ha

      • http://www.bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

        Eeee, Liz, just clicked over to your blog. Congrats! :D

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

          thank you!

      • A-L

        Congratulations, Liz!

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    Lovely. It’s been 8 months for us but I’d say roughly the same thing at this point. I too get the “so how’s married life?” questions with the underlying assumption that it’s been nothing like I thought it would be. In truth, it’s just been the logical next step from where we were before. Our lives moved from separate to together almost seamlessly. I’m glad I’m not the only person who’s experienced that.

  • http://www.soyoureengayged.com Wasabi

    Absolutely love what you said in the third paragraph about the “best kind of feedback loop!” I’m really curious: Has anyone thought about adding something about bringing your “best self” to your marriage in your vows? How are you doing that?

  • Erin

    “…the biggest thing that’s changed post-wedding is how at home I feel.”

    Ooo, ooo, me too!!!! Oh, and what a wonderful, wonderful feeling it is.

  • http://www.koruwedding.com Koru Kate

    Congratulations to Michelle & Josh on their first anniversary! Thank you so much for sharing your first year wisdom. Fabulous post.

    Once again, I’m loving APW for posting about the reality of marriage, not just the fluffy stuff of the wedding day (no offense to those blogs, I happen to love Style Me Pretty too).

  • sara

    this was great to read today – thank you for sharing such thoughtful and helpful sentiments Michelle! I am looking forward to all these feelings in just over a year too, and then that will have been OUR “first trip around the sun together” (that’s a great image, by the way, very big picture and beautiful)!

  • TrailTart

    I mean this in a good way… I found this post reassuringly boring. Like, yeah, that’s what I expect it to be like. I hate all the fear-mongering about the first year of marriage, and I totally can’t figure out what it’s all about. I like this picture — it isn’t hearts-for-pupils honeymoon-period, and it’s also not shocking and wrenching. It’s the next step, it’s different, but it’s still the same two partners, still building and working on their relationship.

    • meg

      Yeah, I have ZERO idea about what all the first year fear mongering is about. I mean, while I definitely think (and argue) that it changed us on an existential plane, and on some practical planes, we didn’t CHANGE at all. We still function as a couple the same way we functioned the first five years of our relationship. In fact, I think the wedding bought so much goodwill that this has been an exceptionally excellent year for us, which is amazing, given how stressful it was.

  • caitlin

    as an about-to-be-married veteran of a five-year long distance relationship, this post gave me goosebumps. in the best way possible.

    • Jamie

      I’m also in a long distance relationship…or I guess I was since we literally just moved in together. 2 and half years of being apart, now we’re engaged and finally living in the same zip code.

      People look at me funny when I told him he lived in another state and that we were engaged. The thing about long distance relationships is that they totally work…if you actually want them to. I loved reading your post and when I saw the long distance thing, my heart fluttered. So thanks.

  • Stephanie

    “When I see the unconditional love that Josh has for me, it inspires me to be the kind of person that warrants that love. … I want to be kinder and more forgiving so that I can be a better emotional support to him. And as I grow, it motivates him to do the same so he can continue to feel like he’s earning the respect and love that I have for him. It’s the best kind of feedback loop, really. We are constantly learning.”

    EXACTLY! EXACTLY! EXACTLY!

    This is how I feel about my FH. To me, this is what relationships are about. I hope after the “big day” we have a similar experience to yours. Thank you for writing this, Michelle.

  • http://www.foxflat.wordpress.com Katie

    YES – keep the post-graduate posts coming. We’re getting married in a month, and hearing how it is one year out is comforting. Probably because a day after the wedding we’re moving from one coast to the other, which involves totally uprooting our lives and me finding a new job. Putting all the pieces back together, in a new place, is scary but also exciting. I like hearing from others who’ve been through this.

  • Melanie

    Meg and Michelle–

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have lived 3,000 miles away from my boyfriend of nearly four years for the past year because of professional and family reasons and we will likely spend another year apart. While we are not yet officially engaged, we both know we want to spend the rest of our lives together and will likely make it official soon.

    It is so comforting and refreshing to hear stories from people who survived the time apart and are now happily married.

    , I often feel the aching loneliness but am afraid to admit it out loud since I too love being near my family and friends and love my job and busy social life. It’s great to know I am not alone :)

  • http://www.bride-sans-tulle.blogspot.com Sharon

    Hurrah for this new feature! Michelle’s words make me feel so hopeful and excited for the many, many years that will come after the wedding.

  • http://mrsmichelley.blogspot.com Michelle

    Sigh… you guys are just the best. I’m glad I got to share my little words of wisdom with you! I loved our wedding planning experience, but little did I know, the party was just beginning. The real fun comes when you’re married!
    Thanks for all of the wonderful feedback. This community is awesome.

    You can find me over here, if you’re so inclined: mrsmichelley.blogspot.com

  • http://www.penguinsandparentheses.blogspot.com Blue Penguin

    This is *exactly* the kind of sanity-preserving, help-get-a-perspective sort of post I really needed right now – big thanks for sharing, and the post-wedding updates are a fabulous idea, and I hope we see lots more of them. I’m in the throes of planning a wedding along with the usual, higher-up-the-list regular life stuff (although APW readers are so impressively busy I tend to hang my head in comparative shame). This has helped remind me what it’s all about and why we’re doing this. Not that we’ve been in cloud-cuckoo-matching-napkin stage or anything, but being reminded of the being there for each other bit – wonderful. And so beautifully expressed. Thank you :)

  • http://www.lilikoiandthyme.com Christine

    Oh my god this was EXACTLY what I needed today. In the stress of planning and pressure and uncertainty, it’s amazing to have a calm, happy voice from the other side. This is what I want (not lace and handmade bunting and letterpress), and it’s wonderful to be reminded of that. Thank you!

  • http://smomo-wedding.blogspot.com/ Jo

    Only just reading this and loving it. As a recently wed person myself, this is the next step for me, and no-one else is saying it!