So, more than any other post request I’ve gotten over the past year, I’ve gotten requests to right about how hard the first year of marriage can be. And if there is one thing we’ve learned over the last two and a half years of APW, it’s that there is no uniform set of wedding or marriage experiences. For David and I the engagement period was hard. The pre-engagement period was sometimes very hard, filled with lots of hard conversations and tears about faith. But our honeymoon phase was pretty wonderful. Gritty, but wonderful. So I couldn’t write that particular post. But finally, one of you APW-ers stepped up to the plate and wrote it. And I want to emphasize a few things here – one, that sometimes divorce is a blessing (we’re not saying that it’s not an option sometimes). But also? For me this post drives home the answer to the ‘why marriage?’ question. Making vows and saying promises doesn’t make the hard times go away. But it does have the power to remind us that we made vows in the first place, and makes us think about why we did that. And with that, I bring you the (anonymous) post:
Roughly five months ago, I was a blushing bride who thought that my brand new husband and I had seen it all. After all, we’d lived together for over a year and a half, paid bills together, handled the mix up of holiday celebrations without hurting anyone’s feelings, dealt with being broke, sickness, and made the decision to get married practically and together. We even joked that we had to write our own vows because we’d already seen every scenario that the traditional vows list.
For about the first month, our marriage was flawless. We had both gained a new sense of responsibility for our baby family. We wanted to work hard for it and protect it. I was even happy to find that after much name-change soul searching that I loved being called and signing Mrs. HisLastName.
Two months into our marriage, we moved closer to many of our friends and our relationship turned upside down. For the years we’d spent together, we’d been in a bubble of just me and him, far from everyone else. With the move, new sides of us came out. I’m very social and community-oriented. My husband, on the other hand, would be happy if it was always me and him. In our new environment, I felt happier and stronger; he started feeling neglected. Other problems emerged. My severe risk aversion and obsessive saving mixed with his carefree nature and tendency to live for the now instead of the future caused some concerns that we could no longer say “You handle your stuff; I’ll handle mine” about.
We lived for a couple of months, fighting often and feeling distant from each other while putting on a nice show for our friends and family. I mean, weren’t we supposed to be in the honeymoon phase? That’s all we’d heard about while engaged. We were not supposed to be having problems while our marriage was this new.
A month ago, it all came to the deciding moment. After a fight we’d had many times, I packed my bag, grabbed my dog, and left home. I headed to stay with a friend who was sad to hear what was happening but happy to take me in, and I left my husband (my very best friend) to his own devices. I still cared greatly about what happened to him, but I felt like another moment in that apartment would have made me crazy. After a short time, he convinced me to come back, but I informed him that I no longer wanted to be a part of our relationship. He was devastated, as was I, but I felt that I had to do what was right for me now instead of living an entire life unhappy only to be left alone later (even if everyone who had come together and supported our marriage just four months ago would be shocked and disappointed).
Then, I thought for a long time while not in an angry “I have to save myself” mode. I reflected on the vows we’d written and the traditional ones we’d chosen not to take. Marriage isn’t something that you walk away from without a fight. Maybe some people do experience a honeymoon phase, but the people I’ve had the courage to talk to have informed me that their first year was the hardest and keeping the marriage together was a conscious decision that required hard work. Marriages that have lasted have had great times and horrible times. The couples just chose to stay together.
So, we got to work. My husband told me he would do whatever it took, and we’ve been doing whatever it takes, consciously doing the things that each of us need and going out of our ways to ensure that our brand new family is the most important thing in our lives. For me, this means missed opportunities with friends. For him, this means communicating in a way he’s not comfortable with. But, we didn’t get married to float on fluffy clouds; we got married to have a partner through thick and thin. We are in the thick part.
The point of writing this is not to scare engaged couples, but to let those brides and grooms – who are about to enter into marriage and can’t imagine a negative thing happening – know that those difficult times will come. And, you will have to choose to love your partner (because it won’t always come as easily as it does in the beginning). The world likes to pretend there’s a honeymoon phase but the beginning is hard, no matter how long you’ve been together (unless you’re one of the lucky few).
I do believe that sometimes it’s best for people to walk away from a marriage and have seen situations where both parties were better on their own, but I just hope that all couples, new and old, try their very best before making the decision to walk away from a love that was (at least at one point) strong enough to make you pledge your life to your partner. In this way, your wedding day is the most important day of your life because it’s a day you can look back on, remember, and gather strength from. Don’t let the way you felt that day disappear and remember the vows you took and why you took them before you decide to walk away from the family you created. Just because it gets hard doesn’t mean it’s not right.