Reclaiming Wife: No Honeymoon Phase

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.

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  • Oh my God, do I appreciate this. I have been blessed with people very close to me who have told me this, who’ve let me in on the hardness, but I’m still very intimidated about how it’s all “supposed to be perfect”–I hate how fluffy my conversations with those who aren’t very very close to me have gotten the moment I announced our upcoming wedding. I’m truly inspired by the conscious choice to work on it; I see that so rarely these days. This is what it’s about to me.

    • On the other end of things, I have never heard about the challenges of the first year of marriage before finding APW. We will be the first of all of my friends to get married, and while most of my fiance’s friends are married and I’m close with them, I’m not close enough to learn about the marital difficulties I’m sure they have experienced. So this post is truly a relief — a little peak at the amount of work we’re signing up for.

      Like you, Jolynn, I hate the fluffy marriage/wedding conversations that are so frequent now. I’m like, “Don’t you get it people? This isn’t just so we can have a huge party. This is so we can CREATE a LIFE together! It’s not all flowers and ponies!”

      • I love APW for the realness it brings to every aspect of weddings/marriage. And how real and truthful and from the gut so many of the conversations are.

        There aren’t too many places where you can have a constructive conversation with a group of people who are totally honest about the good times AND the bad times in their relationship (or wedding planning, or marriage). In our society, people have this weird desire to appear to be the best in most social settings, and sometimes will even scoff at someone who might (openly and honestly) mention that they had an argument with their spouse.

        I love that on APW, it’s all discussed, the good and the bad, and there is usually this overwhelming “OMG! We argue about that, too” or “I have that same situation with my husband/wife/partner/other”.

        • AND that it doesn’t turn into a bitch-fest. It’s always very constructive! There are a few social groups I’ve been in where it turns into horrible mock-my-partner time and I am not amenable to that. Venting is good and necessary, but APW does a great job of providing perspectives from a lot of sides and offering pointers and ideas.

      • meg

        To be fair, *I’d* never heard about the hard-ness of the first year of marriage till APW. Which is a nice way of saying while it happens sometimes, it does not AT ALL happen all the time. I wouldn’t prepare for it, but if it shows up, you can feel normal. But the classic first year of bliss is also a normal experience (I had it). As is a totally normal first year (in lots of ways I had that too).

        • Oh, yes, I absolutely agree. But that’s why this safe space that you (and we) have created is so important — it makes everything that happens okay and beyond that, normal! I’m so thankful to have a place to be real with other strong, intelligent people.

        • An APW commenter gave us the quote that we put on the bottom of our very small order of service for our ceremony:
          “And I have no more illusions that married life will be easy and blissful. It will be hard-earned, and therefore, well worth having”
          And a month in, I’m already seeing some of the hardness. Although thats been exacerbated by buying a house at the same time as getting married…

      • Haha, flowers and ponies made me laugh.

        And yep, relationships are so much harder than they’re made out to be. I wish instead of telling little girls about tulle and flowers, we were told that you have to fight for the things you love. And that’s what makes it worth it. Really, I can’t imagine anything more romantic than two people fighting through all the hard times and the bad moments to hold on to love.

        • Yes. But also, beyond that, we also need to be reminded to indulge fully in those moments which ARE easy and are full of love and don’t take work, when holding on to love feels effortless. Because if we don’t enjoy those, are those moments when we have to work really hard even worth it?

    • I am getting really frustrated by the fluffy conversations some people try to have with me. Especially folks that are already married who try to talk about how much fun everything is. I don’t need them to share all the heartbreak they’ve experienced, but at least acknowledge that marriage isn’t a bed of roses every day.

      • A bed of roses it is not, but in my one year and 3 months of marriage I’ve found that the hard times will happen but getting through them feels so different than before we were married. Before we were married, in moments of panic I always wondered if *this* fight would be the end of us. Now I know it is just part of the ebb and flow of marriage and we are stuck with each other no matter what.

        Also, the crap times make the good times that much better.

        Wonderful post :)

        • meg

          Yes. I have mostly wonderful kind of fluffy things to say about (my) marriage too. Life is hard, but marriage can make it a little easier. So the people may not be lying to you ;)

        • Holy Moly Sara!

          How many times have I felt that exact same way? Even now not even six months in I have had this thought, the difference now is that I remind myself that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s the end. If we walked away every time things got hard we wouldn’t get anywhere! It’s easy to give up, it’s much harder, and often more rewarding, to work through it.

      • I will say that in my first marriage EVERYONE told us the first year would be the hardest. And then it wasn’t hard at all, and I thought, oh well if that was the hardest part then the rest should be easy, right? Umm no. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that if we made it through the first year that we were over the hurdle, but it just wasn’t true. 4 years (of mostly happy marriage) later my husband became abusive, infidelity surfaced, and I had to make the very difficult choice to leave.

        Anyway I guess my point is some people do have a honeymoon period, but everyone hits hard times eventually. Whether it’s before you get married, right after the wedding, or years down the line I think most of not all marriages reach that point where both partners have to decide “yes we’re doing this” or “maybe divorce is a blessing in this case.” It takes bravery either way.

      • Liz

        i think it’s a hard line to walk. i’d really very much like to present a realistic, complete view of marriage to everyone who asks, “how’s married life?!” but it’s so effing complex. it’s amazing and awful and scary and wonderful and can’t ever be summed up in one conversation. i feel that people always inevitably walk away with a 1-dimensional perception of a very complex, multifaceted thing.

        • I think just hearing the words, “it’s complex but wonderful” would be perfect for me to hear. It clues me in that things are one-dimensionally blissful, but you are still very happy in your decision to marry.

        • Kim

          I *hated* getting asked, “So how’s married life?” from someone with a joking and teasing grin when we were going through our fighting through our first 6 months. It was like everyone knew the joke was on us, yet hardly anyone would actually admit how much hard work was going on behind the scenes. From that point on, I started talking, and lo and behold, I found out that there weren’t many who had sunshine and roses during that time. I’m not sure why it’s so taboo to admit, but that needs to change ASAP. How that first year (or any other, as there are bound to be other tough years) goes does not indicate the strength or future of a marriage, in my opinion.

      • ddayporter

        ha, I kind of wish I could get sick of the fluffy messages, I didn’t get too many of those! Mostly only heard from my embittered coworkers, who said things more like “oh you like him NOW, just wait…” and “you’ll get the hates eventually, enjoy the happy times while you can.” ugh. and don’t get them started on their kids..

        • Vee

          Those are just as bad as the fluffy messages, aren’t they? A lot of my friends are much older than I, and when I got engaged, the marriage-bitter really came out of the woodwork.

        • I got those all of my life, and it shocks me that now I’m getting all of this bizarre fluffy stuff, even from the people who said the horrible things to me before.

        • Thankfully I don’t get a lot of those, but my husband does. Especially at work.

    • Agreed! Thank you, thank you, whoever you are.

  • Shawna

    The first time my new husband and I had an arguement after getting married was hard. I had this realization (which I’m sure I had known before but now it hit me in the gut)…. I no longer have the option to just walk away. And that made it tough. We worked through it pretty quickly. But, in the days after the argument, a coworker, who has been married for many years, told me that the first year of marriage is one of the hardest. You are blending two families into a new, baby family. That takes work. He felt the honeymoon of his marriage came a few years into the marriage. I was so relieved not to have the pressure that the first year would go a certain way. Thanks for the post!

    • “I no longer have the option to just walk away”

      This thought has been very reassuring to me. Even the time I stormed out of bed and decided to sleep on the couch, I found a lot of reassuring in knowing that we would work it out, because there aren’t other options: we committed to doing this. When we weren’t married, similar arguments would leave me wondering if we would make it; now I know that we ARE going to make it, we are making it right now.

      • meg

        I think for me that’s when I realized, “Oh my god. Divorce is possible. We’re married now so we could get divorced. That could happen. F*CK.” We have really happily married parents, so I’d never really had to look divorce in the face. Suddenly about a month after the wedding it showed up like a terror. So weirdly, my realization was “One of us COULD choose to walk away.” And that was scary.

        • YES. that is exactly my fear. now it’s not breaking up. it’s divorcing. it’s big and scary and now possible because we’re married.

          my parents divorced after a bitter end to an otherwise very, very happy marriage. it’s terrifying because i saw a good marriage fall apart for reasons beyond their control, and i know that life can lay waste to the best made plans. i think the trick for me is to not think about that but to think about today. are we okay today? now, how do we get to better than okay for tomorrow? i could lose myself thinking about down the road stuff…

          • Class of 1980

            You can only live in today. Good advice.

          • meg

            Yup. I wrote about this exactly on our first anniversary in August.

          • Kim

            I think at some point, too, though, you need to trust yourself, your partner, and your marriage. I don’t mean that in a casual way but simply in trusting that if you are doing the work and laying the foundation, you’re on the right track. It’s like building a budget, following the budget, gathering a nice savings and still being afraid that something is going to derail you; you need to trust in your budgeting skills that even if something will derail you, you’ll be able to go back to those skills you learned in the first place and put yourselves right back on track. It might take time and redoing things you’ve already done, but chances are good that if you’ve done it before, you can do it again, too.

        • Vee

          I agree. Break-up, compared to divorce, seems so non-committal. Like, we could say a bunch of things we don’t mean about not wanting to “do this” anymore, and then in a week or two change our minds. But divorce is a legal proceeding, FFS. My husband and I don’t fight often, but when we do, it feels so serious (moreso because it’s infrequent, I think). And now that we’re married, I sometimes get that gut-sinking feeling of, what if we just can’t make it? Not necessarily that THIS FIGHT will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but that it might be indicative of some wider problem we haven’t even SEEN yet.

        • meg

          The interesting part for me, and what I’m trying to note here is, we were not having any problems. We’re still not having anything I’d term as problems. No problems. No big fights. But suddenly the spector of divorce was there, because suddenly it was something that COULD happen. I think it was pretty important to come to terms with that.

          Do I trust us? Yeah, totally. That was never an issue. The issue was that when you are married, it is suddenly possible to get a divorce. Eep.

          • Kim

            I don’t think divorce can only be spawned from internal problems or fights, though. Sometimes life just throws carp at your door unexpectedly (which I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced), and I think those situations have just as much power to derail you as the internal ones. But I still think the same thing applies to the foundation you’ve built together; you’ve just got to pull out all the dusty tools and use them a little more regularly than you have been.

            I think that part of our first year troubles did have a lot to do with my unanticipated fear that I was suddenly really relying on this person for the rest of my life, in ways I had never done before, and that became scary to independent, do-it-on-my-own me. It definitely took work (and therapy) for me to come back to our marriage and the man I married and just be present in the relationship we had built.

            It’s kind of funny b/c those worries seems so distant now after all that we’ve gone through with the infertility. I can say that if we hadn’t had to work through so much in those first 6 months, I’m not sure we would have been nearly as strong during the really tough times of the past 3 years. So, I’m grateful for those terrible first 6 months of learning. :)

  • amynjude

    I too walked away from my marriage during the “honeymoon phase”. We were only married 84 days when I made the decision to pack up and leave. I needed some clarity and time to clear my head of all the craziness. And thank god I did….after 5 weeks of living apart we both realized that although marriage was much harder than we had anticipated we wanted nothing more in this world than to make it work. I moved back home and we both started working on each others love language and I can truly say this is the happiest I have ever been! We also printed out our wedding vows and they are hanging in our bedroom…it is a daily reminder of the pledge we made to one another on the day we made our baby family.

  • A-L

    Thanks so much for sharing this. We’re approaching the 1-month mark of our baby family, and so far, have yet to hit major problems. But it’s good to know that it’s common. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if my husband and I end up having some of the same issues. Especially the last few months, I was busy doing wedding stuff, and since then doing house stuff that I haven’t done as much entertaining or going out with friends. But when we return from our honeymoon in January, I want to make a conscious effort to change that.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

  • This is really scary and hard to read, but I’m thankful for it. I appreciate the honesty and how straightforward it is. This will be something to ruminate on today.

  • I love APW for not shying away from these topics. It can be so easy to make marriage, especially the first year, sound like a rosy fix to all a couple’s issues, but just like a wedding is not a marriage, becoming a baby family doesn’t erase the tricky parts of a relationship. In fact, I imagine it would magnify them in some instances.

    My partner and I have been through rough things together, but I try to keep in mind that we’re still young and life can be crazy. Thank you for being honest about the amount of work it takes to nourish one’s baby family.

  • I love this whole post. A lot of what cemented our decision to get married in the first place was our experiences going through the hard stuff and coming out on the other side of it: “we got married to have a partner through thick and thin”. It’s been sobering to occasionally realize that things *are* going to get harder, and it’s definitely not that we went through all the thick parts already; there will be more to come, and some of them will be even more challenging than what we’ve already experienced.

    Thank you for giving a voice to the *work* that we’re signing up for. It’s sort of funny how much of (my) marriage is based on the hard, messy, dirty parts. Things can be fun and wonderful with a lot of people, but there are only a few that will hold your hand through the muck. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • So many marriages break up during the first year of marriage, and I’ve honestly always wondered why. I don’t have anyone close to me that has shared how difficult the first year was so I never knew. I’m so thankful that anonymous decided to share her story to clue us in about it. It will be a lot of work and it brings a really needed perspective to the gritty and dirty work ahead. Thank you!

      • meg

        Just want to weigh in again and say things are not NECESSARILY going to get harder. For us they got much easier (even though life got a little harder). I’m just trying to make sure we talk about all sides of the issue.

        • Oh very true. But alllll I hear is sunshine and puppies and I know that can’t be the case for all my newly married friends. I mean, every relationship is different, so it can’t be smooth sailing for everyone. That’s why I love this post.

        • Kim

          And i think to illuminate that there’s no shame in the struggle, if that’s where you end up!

    • ka

      “Things can be fun and wonderful with a lot of people, but there are only a few that will hold your hand through the muck.”

      Yes. This is exactly how I realized my fiance was who I wanted to marry.

  • Anon

    Last weekend was the first time, two months into our marriage, I thought, “I want OUT!” It was completely irrational, a reaction to feeling a bit trapped at the time, but suddenly I felt less like my own person and for the first time, I really missed it. I am still my own person, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, and that’s been tricky to adjust to. Things have been difficult lately. And we’ve lived together for three years, been through a lot, and are still in the same place, so if you read and then thought, “but that can’t happen to me, we haven’t moved; we already know about our community and social behavior.” Just because one thing is a catalyst for one couple doesn’t mean something else will be a catalyst for you.

    • ka

      I think this is really getting into what Cecily was saying the other day about maintaining your individuality and spending time apart. It literally just clicked for me, that sometimes when things are really good with each other, or things are really bad outside of each other, we fall into a shutting ourselves off from the world routine. And if that goes on for too long, feeling trapped can build into my having an itty, bitty irrational “I want out” moment, that uhh, may just escalate “I need to spend a day out shopping by myself” into “I want my own life.” I think just recognizing what the underlying triggers for these moments are will help me to deal with them more sanely. (Of course I’m talking about panics that can be resolved in an afternoon, not ones that take weeks or months to work through.)

  • What a thought provoking post! Thank you.

    As someone who has been married (twice) I was accused of just flippantly making the decision to walk away from my first husband. I was accused (and not by my ex but by friends and family) of not trying my very best. I get frustrated when people assume that divorce is easy just because it’s so popular. I can’t imagine it’s easy or fun for anybody to walk away – even the ones that make it look so. We probably rarely see anyone working on their marriage because it’s the kind of work that typically isn’t put on display for the world to see.

    Anyways, what I learned from this huge failure of a first “starter” marriage is that it DOES take work and not just when things get hard. That you have to try your very best even when things are great. I also learned that there is a way out because I’ve taken that way before – so, for me and my husband now, it makes the choice to be (happy) together every single day that much more significant.

    • Yes, I HATE hearing “divorce is the easy way out.” I got that response a lot to my first divorce, and since I didn’t want to tell these people I barely knew that my husband was abusive I kept my mouth shut. Staying is hard work. Getting out is hard too. When you come to that place in your relationship either option is beyond hard.

      • Liz

        people are rude.

        • Class of 1980

          Some people make assumptions based on very little information. It’s infuriating.

          Divorce, even when you know it’s the right thing for you, is one of the hardest things a person can go through. If the divorce is desired by only one of you, it’s a nightmare. It’s a horrible thing to realize that your future happiness depends on making someone else very unhappy.

          It’s a fire you have to walk through and there are no routes around it.

          There was no abuse in my marriage; just two people profoundly incompatible. Plus, my ex-husband had depression/mental illness issues.

          Can you imagine me trying to justify my divorce by spilling all his intimate details? When people ask someone why they got divorced or make judgments, they deserve to be told “It’s too personal” and nothing more.

          Family excepted to some extent depending on how close you are.

          • As usual, I want to “exactly” all of your comments, Class. I don’t think any decision related to marriage — whether to enter into it, whether to leave it, whether to try to ride through the rough waters — is ever an “easy” decision. There is emotional upheaval associated with every single decision because each one is life-changing.

            It irritates the heck out of me when people assume that getting a divorce was the easy way out. The three years of turmoil and anxiety that I have been through and the many, many thousands of dollars spent on therapy and lawyers strongly suggests the opposite is true. The easy, although unhappy, way would have been to stay miserable in a situation that was familiar. The hard choice was to take a real, hard look at where we were, where we were going, and where I really and truly needed to be.

  • Krista

    I think this is an amazing post, and I totally appreciate hearing this one woman’s story. Even though I am only in the pre-engagement stage, this post resonates with me and I feel that the advice here is important even for couples who are not engaged yet. My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost a year now, and while the first half of the year was lovely and carefree, the past few months have been rough for us, as well as our relationship, as the reality and hardships with living TOGETHER with someone are becoming clear. We are falling into our usual ways of living that were fine when we were single, but together they end up seriously hurting the other person. Like how I need alone time, even at home, but he sees it as me being distant, which then spirals into more severe problems. We had a discussion about it and now have to make the conscious decision to live together as a couple, and not just two people in an apartment.

    Bringing our lives together in this way is not the same as wedding vows, however, I feel like our choice to live together in this pre-engagement stage is a conscious decision to work through the hard times, even when it’s easier to run away. I think the advice in this post is just as pertinent for couples prior to marriage as well as after the wedding day and again, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her words during this time of “thick” for my boyfriend and I.

    • Elissa

      I’m in quite a similar situation. I need alone time, especially when I’m stressed or unhappy. It’s been hard for my partner to learn that just because I want to be alone and not talk to him doesn’t mean I’m upset with HIM – it might be about work, or I just want to sit and be quiet by myself for no apparent reason. And I’ve had to learn how to say “Work was mad today, I just want to rest” or “I’m annoyed about blah, I just need to sit and work through it” when I’m tired and grumpy and just want to be left alone, so that he knows what’s happening.

      I think with things like this it’s REALLY important that you find a way that lets both of you have what you need. I need my alone time and he needs to know where I’m at. Trying to change our fundamental natures (eg- me: introverted, him: stressy) is never going to work. We need to figure out how to allow for both.

  • QuietlyThankfulAnon

    APW team,
    You always get these posts timed so darn well!
    My husband and I have been married 1 year and 3 months. One year ago today, we left on a plane for our honeymoon. About one month ago, we started sleeping in separate bedrooms after 7 months of non-stop fighting. We’ve done counseling, we’ve tried approaching our issues from different sides, I’ve walked out, he’s walked out, we have talked (unproductively) more than I can even imagine.
    BUT…after a month of nights alone, silent time for our own thoughts, and some calm space for us both, it looks like there’s still a bond worth saving. Last night we talked – REALLY talked – about the relationship we have versus the one we though we were going to build. We made some plans for getting from one to the other. It’s still a long road ahead, but we both thought our marriage was forever…now we have some idea of why that is so precious and so gosh darn hard.

    Thanks, anonymous wife. Thanks for sharing your story. Best of luck, and love, to you and your partner.

    • anon

      I want to add that I actually sat down and wrote a very similar thing to send in to APW just the night before this post went up. Amazing freaking timing. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Obviously your experience is not uncommon.

  • Kate

    this was a wonderful post. so insightful and real. thank you.

  • N

    Thank you so much for this post. I too had basically no real honeymoon period, although it was because of illness not fighting. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, but I try to keep in mind that “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”. Thank you for reminding me of this, and for reminding me that I am not alone in this experience.

  • When we get married we’ll have been together for nearly 10 years – I wonder if that will make any difference? I’m looking forward to finding out if our realtionship changes at all after the wedding.

    • Maureen

      I had been with my (now) husband for 5 years before we got married and for me the hard part was when we first moved in together after about a year of dating. I feel like that was when we had our really hard blending our lives together times. We fought about division of household labor (endlessly), money, how late people stayed up/slept in, drinking, cooking, you name it, we fought about it. But then we learned how to live together, how to talk to one another, how to express our needs in a constuctive way, how I simply cannot be in the same room when he washes the dishes because all the water he wastes makes me SO CRAZY, etc. So for us, 6 months in, things are absolutely the same as they had been the previous 3 or 4 years. We are happy much more of the time than not and we are able to resolve conflict in a (mostly) constuctive way. But I still can’t watch him do th dishes. :)

      • Amy

        For us too, one of the hardest parts was when we first moved in together. Negotiating things like chores/space/schedules/etc. was very difficult for us. For him, it was more about realizing that living with me was not the same as living with a roommate, and for me it was about learning to relinquish control over what was previously *my* space. We worked through things, but right up until a month or so before we got engaged there were many fights/silence/hurt feelings. And I am so glad that we toughed it out and learned to communicate about those feelings before we got engaged – it gave us a great foundation for what was for us a difficult engagement (though those issues were 99% due to external forces). I try to communicate this to friends thinking of moving in together, not to discourage them, but because I felt like nobody talked about how hard it could be. I honestly think as women we owe it to other women to talk honestly about the challenges we face in relationships (and being a wife/mother) because there are so few open and honest forums these days that don’t either devolve into nastiness or that simply only focus on the fluffy bits.

        • Maureen

          Yes! The roommate vs. partner living together battles. Things like who would do what laundry turned into huge issues (that were about, of course, so much more than laundry). So glad we got those out of the way early on. Yet another reason why have have a very hard time coming up with an answer to “How’s married life?” People always seem dissapointed when I say, “It’s good, it’s the same.”

          • Tricia

            Also, at least for me, one reason for the answer that it is pretty much the same is because the ways in which it is the same are big and obvious and simple, but the ways in which married life is different, while deeply significant, are subtle, complicated and personal, not something I would talk about with any but the closest friends.

      • Zan

        I am putting on my turban and in my crystal ball I see an envelope bursting with cash with the word “DISHWASHER FUND” in your future…


        For the record that’s something in MY future too. Our current house doesn’t allow for a dishwasher but I sympathize because my guy refuses to rinse the dishes, soapy residue is no worry for him. Good thing we use Dr. B’s — so my coffee tastes faintly of peppermint and not Cascade.

    • My experience is similar to Maureen’s. We got married on our five year anniversary, and had lived together for 4 1/2 years. (Moving in with him six months into our relationship is probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done. We’re pretty lucky that worked out.) We moved to NYC together six months in – 1000 miles away from all our friends and family – and had this huge blending of things very early in our relationship, far away from everything we’d ever known. And I would say the 2nd year of our relationship was so so hard. There were times when we both wanted to leave. But something kept us together, kept us talking, working through it. So when we got married this past October… we had been through a lot of those “newlywed” issues, years prior. Which isn’t to say everything’s been sunshine and roses and super easy all the time… I think there is an adjustment no matter what. But our experience has been (knock on wood) pretty wonderful so far, and I think it’s because we lived together so long. But… we’re also aware of how hard marriage can be – especially the first year – we’ve watched several friends go through it. So we’re not naive that those issues couldn’t happen to us.

    • Liz

      i don’t know that there is a formula.

      one of the reasons i expected a difficult first year is because we hadn’t lived together and we were young- two things people warned us about CONSTANTLY. but we didn’t seem to struggle with learning to coexist as much as people assumed we would.

    • meg

      Yeah, I don’t think there is a formula. We were together five years before we got married, and for us the hard parts were the faith parts, which we started dealing with in year one. Moving in together was easy, the first year of marraige was pretty easy… and wonderful and different.

      • Jessie

        The issue is that people put time stamps on when happiness and difficult times are supposed to happen, making others feel weird for not experiencing what’s expected. For example, when we moved in together after not dating very long, people thought that would be hard. That was our honeymoon phase instead. When we were told we were supposed to have a honeymoon phase (right after marriage), we had issues. Dealing with others expectations against the reality of what happens to you is what makes it hard, in my opinion.

        • meg

          Just remember, everyone gives you different stamps. I can’t count how many times I was told that the first year was supposed to be really hard, no one ever told us we’d have a honeymoon phase. It wasn’t hard for us, so oh well. You have to let yourself look at the (many, confilicting) expectations, shrug, and say, “It wasn’t that way for me.”

    • TNM

      I agree.

      Moving in = hard change.
      Marriage = easy change. (Of course I’m only one year into the marriage so let’s hope I don’t jinx myself!) And what’s more, the issues we bicker about now are *still* the “moving in” issues: i.e. division of household labor, sharing resources, schedules, and of course, abidingly, decor preferences (OMG – I can’t believe you like that end table, etc.) Sometimes I think that critics of marriage get it wrong when they say “monogamy is not natural” – I think monogramy is fine, it’s cohabitation that may be unnatural!

      • Vee

        Ohhh the decor preference. I’ll never forget the first holiday season I lived with my now-husband. I brought home this really cute “Joy” sign to hang, and he ridiculed it until I took it down. I didn’t talk to him for two days. We’ve come a long way since then :)

        • TNM

          Ha, we had a similar holiday meltdown when he brought home about two dozen plastic Patriots/Celtics/Red Sox Christmas ornaments – except with the roles reversed. And don’t even get me started on the white lights v. colored lights debate!

          • Tricia

            Oh yeah. Decor. Almost all of the furniture he owns is painted industrial gray. It is not attractive and I don’t especially want to look at it every day. But some of has been in his family for several generations and it is important to him. We are still working through that. (The worst offender is living in a closet)

      • Class of 1980

        Vee wrote: “I think monogamy is fine, it’s cohabitation that may be unnatural!”


        • Yes. Cohabitation is hard, and there’s nothing wrong with monogamy, but neither is there anything wrong with polyamoury. It’s all about what works for each couple. As long as there is communication, trust, and absolute respect almost any relationship dynamic will work.

          (Seriously, 90% of my friends are poly and most of them are happily married.)

  • Thank you for this post.
    It is perfectly timed, I’ve been dealing with some of the same stuff lately.
    It’s good to remind myself that we married not just for the lovey fluffy stuff, but for the practical reasons as well.

  • Such an awesome post! The last paragraph is particularly resonant with me because I’m constantly turning back toward our wedding day when I think our relationship issues can’t be solved. Remembering that day and remembering why were we there to do what we did is a necessity for me. So much so that I ended up turning our ceremony script into a piece of art that now hangs on a prominent wall in our apartment to remind us both why we’re together.
    As for the honeymoon phase… well, I do think it exists. For a day. If even that. I don’t think it lasts a year, I think you bask in the glow of your wedding day and are overcome by joy every time you think of the vows you made, but eventually reality kicks back in. And like the poster, I hate that society perpetuates the idea of a honeymoon phase. It made me feel guilty for the fact that we were arguing two days into our honeymoon over which route to take on the highway. We’re not supposed to be arguing, we’re supposed to be perfect, I remember thinking. But the truth is, we were never perfect to begin with and our wedding ceremony wasn’t some sort of magic moment that made our relationship perfect. In the long run, committing ourselves to marriage has strengthened our relationship, but the idea that it creates some sort of wondrous phase where partners walk on clouds for months and months is a big ol’ fib.

    • meg

      Y’all. There totally can be a honeymoon phase. I’ve lived it, it’s not a myth. But you never really know when you’ll get a moment like that. Maybe it happens when you first get together (didn’t for us), maybe it happens when you get engaged (didn’t for us), maybe it happens when you get married (did for us). Or maybe it never happens. But it’s totally a real thing, just like a hard first year is a real thing. They are just not universal (because nothing is).

      • ddayporter

        well I exactly’d Miss Fancy Pants, not because I don’t think you can have a blissful period in your marriage or other relationship, but because I resent the fact that it has to have some kind of expiration date. I can’t argue with someone if they want to say they’re in or they’ve had a honeymoon phase, I just want to believe for myself that it’s either not going to end (depends on how you look at it), or it will come back around again many more times throughout our life together. The idea of having a honeymoon phase seems to imply that the rest is just mucking along.. maybe I’m missing the point! but I tend toward Lethe’s take below, that everything is cyclical.

        • meg

          I think phases like this do come and go. I also suspect we’ll never have something quite like our actual honeymoon phase again. It’s part of the huge once-ness of getting married. I think we hoped that going to Italy this year would be just like our honeymoon all over again, for example. But it wasn’t. It was just a nice vacation. Which might have lead to some yelling, achem. Anyway, it was wonderful, but totally different… which was fine. It just took some getting used to.

  • Lethe

    I read an interesting book about relationships once that might shed some light on this. The gist of it was that romantic relationships have a few phases. In the first, you are experiencing that ardent, romantic-type love. But that gives way to a phase in which you have to learn to deal with the REAL person, not obscured by those fuzzy-feelings, and both of you attempt to establish boundaries between yourself and the other person that allow you to continue feeling whole while still being intimately emotionally connected. And that’s, if you couldn’t guess, REALLY hard, so that phase usually involves a lot of conflict, and may contain fights that you feel like you have over and over and over again. But if you stick it out and resolve the boundary-setting difficulties, you reach the third phase, in which you are past the first fuzzy-feelings but are connected by a deeper, more familial type of love and you feel greater stability in the relationship than you ever could have before.

    That might not sound TOTALLY revolutionary, but what’s interesting is that this author thought this cycle repeats many times in each relationship! Yes, you have that first cycle when you are initially getting into the relationship. But then every time your relationship experiences a major change (could be moving to a new place, change of job or social circumstances, engagement, marriage, a new baby), you might re-enter this cycle of ardent love, boundary-setting conflict, and then a stable resolution. (Though the swings might likely be less extreme than the first time.)

    Obviously this is oversimplified, but I think it’s an interesting way of looking at it. The first year I moved in with my fiancee was probably the hardest of our now seven-year relationship – that was a big change and required me to rework how I think about myself and our relationship. And I think this is why for some people, engagement sets off one of these difficult cycles, while for other people – even those who have been together for a long time – marriage might. And you end up with that really hard first year.

    • Hmm…interesting to think about those cycles repeating over time due to circumstances. Good point.

    • JEM

      Very interesting! Care to share the Author and title?

      • Lethe

        I wish I could remember!! I just picked it up in a workplace library once several years ago. I think this might be a somewhat common theory among researchers who study relationships, though.

    • Kess

      Even that isn’t universal throughout relationships. My boyfriend and I never had the ‘lovey-dovey’ part in the beginning of our relationship, mainly because we both weren’t really ready for a relationship at that point, but we decided to stick it out anyway. Right from the get-go, we had to learn about each other’s real selves.

      Still, I do see the general cycles in our relationship, and in general I’m a big believer of cycles (they exist just about everywhere – scientifically and not), so I agree with that idea.

  • Oh yes, there are many times in the last year plus of marriage that I had to choose to love my husband. And I am sure that the reverse is true.

    • I like this thought, Meghan: you have to choose to love sometimes. Even if you don’t want to. Dig down deep and choose. Maybe it’s like what they say about smiling, that if you smile your feelings will follow. And thanks for pointing out that it goes both ways. Indeed. He’ll have to choose too. And it won’t be similar timing or easy for either of us.

  • Wow – thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    I think so often the wedding is presented a bit like the “and they all lived happily ever after” at the end of the fairy tale – you know life continues beyond it, but the girl/boy got the girl/boy and that’s all that matters, right?
    We haven’t gone through anything like this, but I know that when we had our first argument after getting married I felt a little shocked and taken aback by it. Because wasn’t everything supposed to be peachy and perfect now? And of course, that’s ridiculous – we’re exactly the same people we were in the six years we’d been together before the wedding, after all – but it’s nice to hear about how you do have to work at marriage and how it can be hard, and that’s why APW is great.
    I’m so glad that you found the courage to talk things over and address your problems, and I wish you and your husband all the very best for your future.

  • Liz

    so glad you guys are working through things!

    when we were first married, we were warned that it would be the “hardest year ever” and when it wasn’t, were told it must be a “honeymoon phase.” and um. it was both and neither and all at the same time. we had rough patches where we were getting used to living together and the weight of our commitment and voicing expectations. and we had amazing times of reveling in our new phase.

    like you said- marriage is about the thick and thin. and those thick and thin don’t always happen at the same time for people. first year, seventh year, year 42. who really can predict?

    • Yes, exactly, hard AND blissful. Sometimes at the same time.

  • Anon

    I’ve tried to respond to this post a couple of times now, and I just want to say thank you – to the poster and to all the commenters. We’ve been married about 6 months and things are not dramatically bad, but we’re fighting more than I feel good or comfortable about. Last night we ended up in a long yucky fight and it occurred to both of us that the reason we’re fighting is because neither one of us is in the right zone to look past the small stuff because it all feels more dramatic when you’re HITCHED to that person. Like the fact that he’s less enthusiastic about traveling than I am, or that I am not so into hanging out with his parents, none of them are deal-breakers but they just take on more meaning now that we’re married.

    Yes, we talked about this stuff when we were engaged and throughout all the planning, but once the dust settles with the glow of wedding-planning madness it’s hard for me not to feel rattled, or trapped, or slightly scared. I think we’ll keep working it through the way we have (we fight a lot, but I think we also get a lot resolved in fighting) but it makes me feel a thousand times better to be reminded that some of this is quite a common experience.

    • Vee

      “Like the fact that he’s less enthusiastic about traveling than I am, or that I am not so into hanging out with his parents, none of them are deal-breakers but they just take on more meaning now that we’re married.”

      Wow, I could have written this. Before we were married, I would say to my friends, “Well, he’s not that into traveling but what’s the difference? He’s a great guy!” and I still feel that way, but from the vantage point of marriage, him not wanting to devote resources toward traveling makes it a LOT LESS LIKELY that I’ll be doing much of it myself. Being “hitched” makes that much more clear than it looks through that delightful fog of OMG I’M ENGAGED!

      • zach

        yes yes yes. That she was less sure than I about when exactly we wanted kids (we both want them, the question is just the timeline) mattered less when it wasn’t so imminent.

  • optathy

    This was a reassuring post to read. There actually hasn’t been much easy about these first five months, complicated by depression (major on my part, probable on his part), beginning business school which I did not react to as I thought I would, and a jerk of a dog who sort of symbolizes our problems. Counseling, both joint and single on both our parts, has helped significantly. We’re also learning about intention and meaning of communication; I thought we had that down but really it’s a never-ending process. I also suspect that my husband doesn’t fully understand how relationships are supposed to go, in terms of both of us being active stewards of our relationship. But he’s shown a great capacity to learn and work on these things, which I am infinitely grateful for.

    I have certainly questioned my decision-making ability because we have the same fight over and over again, and because we are so incredibly different in many ways. (The dynamics of the relationship in this post really hit home for me.) But I feel so secure in the promises we made to each other on our wedding day. They give me the strength to see past the difficult times to where I hope our relationship will be in a year or two.

    • I sometimes think the same of my husband about the whole we both need to be active stewards of our relationship and he doesn’t see that. He is of the mindset you don’t need to work on fixing a relationship unless things are really bad, whereas I am more of a why not put more effort in to make our relationship the absolute best it can be even if it’s mostly good kind of person.

      Plus, I maaaayy be the one who does most of the taking care of our family (as far as keeping our household running, organizing our social life, etc.), so it is hard for him to realize that this is something that requires BOTH of our attention/energy/effort.

    • I’m struck by your comment, Optathy. While you call tell you’re going through a difficult time, you speak highly of your partner and with love that can be felt through the screen. Honestly. I think the fact that at least one of you realizes that you need to be, as you so brilliantly put it, “stewards of our relationship” means you’ll make it. I hope that when (not if, but when) I find myself out of the honeymoon period, I’m able to speak as kindly about my other half as you have here.

  • Danielle

    Ohhh, thanks so much for writing this. This feeling you’ve described, of thinking “we’re not supposed to be having a hard time yet”, is one my FH and I having been wrestling with throughout our engagement, though for different (and totally valid and unavoidable, etc.) reasons. We’re doing the therapy thing, we’re doing the church thing, we’re doing the Oprah books about loving relationships thing, etc., but it feels like an uphill battle when I sort of imagined it wouldn’t be! Every single story I read about these situations I file away for the bad days, when I feel like maybe if it’s this hard already it’s not supposed to happen. So a giant thanks to you for sharing, and to APW in general, for providing me (and apparently others) with so many of these lifeboat stories.

    • Memery

      “lifeboat stories” — love it! They’re exactly that. This whole week on APW has been a lifeboat for me.

  • I thought we would have a blissful first year. But it’s been hard. Harder than I thought it could be. Some days, I think: “Well, we have to work it out. We committed. I’m choosing love.” Some days, I think: “I could pack my suitcase. I could go home to live with my parents. I’m tired of working at this.” I was thinking the other day of what my advice would be to engaged couples about the realities of living through your marriage vows. Part of me wanted to say that the hard work was worth it and the other part of me wanted to say that they should think a little harder about if this is really what they wanted. I suppose the balance between the two is where you should be when choosing to get married. You should be soberly committed to the realities of richer/poorer, health/sickness, etc. I suppose the thing getting us through is that at the end of the day there is companionship.

  • mere…

    Exactly, Exactly to both:
    Meg: “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.” Such a beautiful and simply stated message.

    And Anonymous: “But, we didn’t get married to float on fluffy clouds; we got married to have a partner through thick and thin.” and “Just because it gets hard doesn’t mean it’s not right.” These statements are so right on with how I think and I haven’t heard a single one of my recently married friends say this. Can I give you a hug?

  • Alice919

    Thanks so much for this post. There are so many real parts about marriage that people don’t tell you:

    1) that being engaged will turn your world upside down. Just a week after we got engaged my fiance came home to me crying on the couch because I was afraid that I wasn’t worth it to ask my parents for all this money and stuff for a wedding. I struggled with feeling that I wasn’t worth *it* (and that can be a lot of things) in many ways and struggled with getting along with my new in-laws and struggled trusting that he really loved me and that he picked me and would always pick me. After many months, many inventories, many conversations with him and friends, and lots of prayer, I came out of it feeling like I had really changed and grown into a woman and was excited and ready to be married to my husband.

    2) that you may break down and cry on your honeymoon. Run, run, run, run, plan, negotiate, stress, excitedly look forward to, fret about tissue paper flowers for decorations, STOP…now go relax and enjoy your honeymoon with your new husband. And this is supposed to be an easy transition? Geez, I just went through the most emotional, stressful, loving change that I have ever been through and i’m supposed to just chill out without thinking twice about it? Nope, i started stressing 2 days into our honeymoon, woke up crying on the 3rd day, talked to my friends and found out this is normal, felt relieved, cried some more, and then woke up on the 4th day ready to relax and enjoy my new husband and our lovely honeymoon.

    3) that the first year of marriage is the hardest. one said this until like a month before we got married. Then it doesn’t seem possible because I was are so pre-occupied and excited about the wedding, but I realized that this may be true indeed. We have been together 8 years now and have been married for 3 months is pretty much the same. I think that all my soul-searching during the engagement period has helped me to get ready for the emotional upheavals that come along with such a monumental change. Day to day hasn’t changed much, but I find myself constantly running into old ideas, habits, etc that I realize don’t work anymore. I have to change my mind about a lot of things, need to give him more weight in decision making and not give myself 70 votes to his 30 just because i think i’m right, that we have to compromise, that we are a new baby family and we need to treat eachother thusly and always remember that. So we talk a lot more now, we are more honest with eachother, and our life is happy when we do that :)

  • Our hard period was the first 3 months of living together, more than 2 years before getting engaged and 4.5 years before getting married. Our relationship has been about same post-wedding as it was pre – we still argue over the same things and have the same issues that we try to work on, life is mostly good with a few rough patches along the way. My big thing right now is getting us better at how we communicate and fighting more fairly for these littler issues so that if (when?) a much bigger problem arises we have the tools to work through it better.

    Neither of us expected marriage to change our relationship much, for various reasons. I figured I was as committed to him as I could be even without that piece of paper. I was a little surprised that there is that little more settled feeling of stability, of knowing it would be harder for one of us to walk away in a bad moment, and that we made it known in front of our community that we were going to stick it out and work through whatever because we were choosing each other.

    I love that APW is so open and honest about relationships. I too have groups of friends where its either, marriage is GREAT, or let’s bitch about our partners and belittle them.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I worry sometimes about getting married, that it won’t work out, that the marriage will fall apart for this or that reason. All of a sudden every little thing becomes this huge, scary, sign of looming doom (in my head). So thank you for the reminder that marriage is hard sometimes, and that there will be fights. Somehow thinking about it as “this will not be easy” instead of “this will be wonderful and fluffy and perfect! with unicorns!” makes me a lot calmer.

    Also thank you for the reminder that marriage is a choice, even after the wedding. That yes, things will get hard, but we have chosen to be there for each other through the hard, that we will have promised each other this much. Yes, divorce happens, but that doesn’t mean it will happen, and my marriage isn’t going down without a fight.

  • I told my husband about 6 months in, after a night of drinks, that I was thinking about filing for divorce. First, let me recommend never having a conversation like that while one partner has been drinking (or both).

    I had never heard that the first year was hard. And, to be fair, we had a really rough start to the marriage, with both of us being unemployed and living 3 states from all of our family and friends, no connecting with people here… the list can go on. But, even without that stuff, because it eventually got better, our year has been hard.

    So, thanks for writing about it. I don’t feel like anyone talks about that hardness. Or really anything about marriage that isn’t buying pillows or planning babies.

    Thanks for being honest, and thanks for posting it, Meg.

  • redfrizzz

    this post could not have come at a better time. My partner and I have been together for 5 years, endured those difficult, teary conversations about faith and family, indecision and anxiety about our choices, financial confusion, death, depression, illness, etc. We’ve been engaged for 2 years (plan to marry next year), and recently came to a very hard point- though certainly not the first. I believe that we have to consciously DECIDE to fall back in love with the one we’ve chosen. We have to remind ourselves of why we did, and how we can do it again. And we do have to work- HARD.
    Thank you so, so, so much for sharing. you’ve given me a sense of sisterhood, faith, and reality.
    best luck to you. keep at it.

  • Alicemay

    Three words: Brave. Wise. Eloquent.

  • So how much did this make me cry? I rarely get weepy at posts, but this one I got misty eyed.

    I love my husband so very dearly, but it’s hard. We’re going through so much right now personally, financially, everything. It’s far from a bed of roses, and because of that sometimes I wonder if maybe we weren’t really ready. And then I remind myself of all the hard stuff we’re dealing with and that it’s not ALWAYS going to be like this. That things WILL get better, we just need to work at it and be understanding and supportive of each other. Instead of dwelling on how wrong things seem to be, we need to encourage each other to be the best selves we can for our selves as well as for each other and our son.

    I don’t think we’ve had a honeymoon phase since we first started dating. There are no angels singing, no sparklies and fireworks every time I look at him or hear his voice. For a long time this really bothered me and made me wonder, but then I realized we have simply grown into our relationship. Our love is no less, it has simply changed. There are warm fuzzies when we spend genuine quality time together. It’s the little things we do for each other (or try to do) that make it worth it. It’s the being there for each other and being willing to do what it takes to make it work, because once you get to the other side of the hard, ugly stuff you are closer than you were and you have reinforced the bond and the reasons you got married.

    • merryf

      Yes. Yes. YES.
      This. Is. My. Life.

  • I think that one of the interesting things about periods of marital discord is one’s perception of how bad things really are. If you asked my husband and me (separately) about the amount of strife in our three year old marriage, he would say it has been very strife-ridden whereas I would say we’ve had fabulous times with a few periods of discord thrown in.

    The difference between an optimist and a pessimist? Perhaps, but I do think one’s frame of reference is important. A great book on this is The Resiliency Factor, which examines the factors behind individual resilience (hence the name) and how the amount of resiliency one has determine his or her reactions and subsequent life decisions. I think that one’s perception of just how difficult things are makes a world of difference when it comes to the decision to tough it out or leave.

  • Faith

    MOST of what I’ve heard is how incredibly hard the first year of marriage is for most of the married couples I know. However, a lot of my friends and peers that have gotten married recently have not said that. They say that it is great after expecting the hard year they heard so much about.

    We’re trying to keep our expectations realistic and know that love and marriage means giving up yourself for the other person…especially at the beginning. That person is THE most important person in our life and while creating our baby family from scratch other things and people will have to take a backseat for a while. Will it always be that intense, that much of a “bubble” for us? No, but the start of a marriage will take much more effort than our relationship before.

    For us, the other person and their happiness is much more important than our own. That is what makes me secure.

  • Just because it gets hard doesn’t mean it’s not right.

    bingo. sincere thanks for such a beautifully honest post. i wish nothing but the best for you and your husband in the future.

  • I’m so glad to see Meg repeating in the comments that this first-year-rough-patch doesn’t happen to everyone. I was starting to feel like a huge jerk because my husband is my best friend and I don’t have anything negative to say about him.

    Before we got married, everyone kept trying to prepare us for the worst (with jokes, mostly). They told me he’d get lazy and that I’d resent him. They told him I’d stop having sex with him as soon as I was his wife. They told me he’d fantasize about other people. They told me I’d have second thoughts.

    Three months in, we’re still blissed out. But that’s been our relationship for the past several years – we’re happy together, and when we fight, we both get over it within an hour. Everyone said our relationship would change once we were married (even APW), but it really hasn’t at all. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed about that, but there you have it.

    For those in rough patches – someone once told me the secret to a happy marriage was to never fall out of love with each other at the same time.

    • Faith

      There are just some (okay, many) people you just have to tune out and know that they are idiots.

    • meg

      Clarification: I said MY relationship changed after marriage. It’s interesting that we have a drive to universalize. Not all first years are hard, not all marriages change.

    • Morgan

      Yeah, I’m with you. I’ve been married for 9 months and it’s so infinitely easier and happier than what came before – life got easier, but our relationship is still swimming happily along, much as before. I got lots of the “it will be hard” messages and have been pleasantly startled not to feel much hardness.

  • Sept Bride

    My honeymoon period has been much harder than I expected. My husband and I have been together nearly 7 years and lived together for more than 5 years before tying the knot, so I did not expect much to change in our lives except, hey, new jewelry! However, the first few months have been hard, and not because of anything either of us has done, but because marriage has the power to bring out a whole messy bunch of fears and expectations.

    Without design, our wedding coincided with a bit of a professional shift for my baby family, in with my job hitting the brakes a bit, meaning that I am working reasonable hours and have had time to do the things that I love to do (yay!), and my husband’s career hit the gas, meaning that he is working insane hours and is consumed by work even when he is at home. This seems like it would be wonderful – more time to try that new Indian recipe! – but it hard been hard. Because I am now a married woman, I am starting to see my increased role around our house as a suffocation, and I find myself green with envy at my husband’s role. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled by his success and grateful for a bit more “me” time, but this shift has left me largely in charge of running our household. While I understand that our current situation is one small part of the ebb and flow of what I hope will be a long and healthy marriage, it is brining up all sorts of nastiness in me… Marriage is scary of many of us because it *can* represent a loss of self and a transition into “wife” or “mother.” Now that my law degree works 40 hours a week and I am the primary chef/cleaner/laundry picker-upper/planner in the house, visions of Betty Friedan are all around and I realize that I am taking it out on my husband, which just isn’t fair. Thank you for this post, because it has shocked this realization out me, and I vow to be more honest about my frustrations, more communicative about my needs, and more willing to order takeout.

    • LauraB

      So interesting.

      I started work as a lawyer 14 days after my wedding. DH had started 6 months earlier.

      It was *so* difficult going from an essentially student existence to both working long hours at professional jobs. I was not good at it, and didn’t have the energy to do chores and work. Things slipped and we took it out on each other. We resented what the other was not doing around the house. It sounds minor but it really contributed to a 3 month tough spot. The other 9 months of that first year were our ‘honeymoon phase’ as we just stopped caring about the house and focussed on each other.

      It’s taken another 2 years for us to really get into the swing of managing a household, though.

      • Sept Bride

        Thank you. It’s good to know that other have been through this, too. I am actually like you – I do not like working crazy hours, but I also don’t like the majority of household tasks falling to me because I am the one home, and it doesn’t seem fair to make my husband evenly split the chores/tasks of every day life when he is working so much harder than I am.

        One thing that does help – and I am throwing it out there to everyone struggling with these issues – is that we just hired a cleaning service to come a couple of times a month. It’s a big expense, and I know it’s not an option for many people, but I am grateful that we can handle it because this has been, hands down, the best decision I have made for my marriage yet.

        • LauraB

          Yes yes yes!

          I felt exactly the same. I couldn’t reconcile my aversion to being a ‘domestic woman’ with the fact that I was in fact the more domestic-bound of the two of us. (This despite the fact that I love to cook, bake and craft – it’s complicated).

          If I could afford it, a cleaning service would be top of my list. In fact, once we have some law school debt down, it will be top of the list.

        • One time when a colleague recommend her cleaner to me she said, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my marriage.” I believe it!

    • Sept Bride

      I just re-read my post, and was obviously pretty keyed up about it, given the embarassing number of typos. My apologies.

      • Andrea

        I was totally okay with the typos, seemed like they indicated your emotions — “it hard been hard” made me smile :)

    • z

      I really appreciate this. My spouse and I are both graduate students, and one of our hardest periods was when I had my summer internship and she was doing dissertation research. We were in the same city far from home, but I had people around me all day and just wanted to zone when I got home, and she was lonely and wanted to do something every night with me.
      We were both so glad to come home.

  • Class of 1980

    Whatever issues you have before the wedding will still be there. Whatever you have not dealt with, will still need dealing with. The wedding will not suspend life itself, nor will it change your personalities.

    There is no universal pattern for the first year of marriage.

    For what it’s worth, my first year of marriage was easy, then I got a divorce five years later. We had been together for YEARS before the wedding. We had always been incompatible, but I didn’t allow it into my consciousness until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. But the first year of marriage wasn’t particularly hard, so what does that mean?

    I know a couple who had four years of bliss, then a rough patch. They got through the rough patch and went on to years and years of bliss punctuated by hard life issues to deal with.

    I think of another couple who had years of bliss, then years of just okay when her sex drive disappeared, followed by bliss again when she had a hysterectomy.

    I know couples who are always in bliss except when life itself intrudes.

    Some couples bicker constantly, but never want to split.

    Time has a way of telling you if your problems are based on things you can adjust or problems that will never go away. You have to decide if you can live with the ones that never go away.

  • Class of 1980

    Another thought …

    When you think about how many people are on the planet, and that each of them would come to a marriage with variables on the following: how well they know themselves, how well they know their partners, their coping abilities, flexibility, natural disposition, talents, weaknesses, social skills, stage of life, family support, physical/mental health, finances, etc … how could there ever be a universal experience of the first year of marriage?

  • I would like to also add that after reading this post I linked it to my husband and said “PLEASE READ THIS!” and he did and it spawned an amazing discussion between us about our marriage and all the stuff going on and how we can best help each other get through it all and come out better and stronger on the other side.

    • Ohhh… I’ve done that with APW stuff before. And yes, the resulting conversation was worth the funny look he gave me for suggesting he read a “wedding blog” (his words, not mine!)

      • It’s kind of funny. He read it and was like “I already knew this! Why did you need me to read it?” and that’s what really started the discussion, because this post reinforced what I have been thinking and feeling.

  • Suzanne

    We are in month four of our “honeymoon phase” and it has been hard. But it is not from any doing of our own, it is because my husband’s parents decided it necessary to tell us all the ways we disappoint them on our second day back from our ACTUAL honeymoon. That definitely threw a monkey-wrench in our day-to-day because until that point, we accepted our parents/families as they were. But at that moment, and since, it has been a “no they didn’t” mode for both of us. It frustrates us that after the respect we have for them, they don’t respect us and our choices–but we have come to realize that is their issue to figure out, not ours. And, while it upset me that we had to have some difficult conversations early on in the “honeymoon,” we had to do that when we got engaged, and other milestones because we have come to learn that the moment we have something happy to share, they have something unhappy to push in the limelight to bring us down. So great, now we know it’s a pattern of theirs and we can move on and be better for it. I know that I just want to be happy, so I can’t hold on to the anger and be happy at the same time. And, so is life. I have to move on and not hold it against my husband that his parents treat him poorly. I’m glad to know this now and know that even though it is hard to live through crappy situations, we can live through it and come out on the other side–better and not bitter. What is that saying? “You can cry because roses have thorns or smile because thorns have roses.”

  • Sarah

    Like so many have said above, I’d never heard that the first year would be anything other than bliss. From my mother, even. And the example of an Aunt who married her boyfriend of 11 years and was deliriously happy (for reals). But our first year has been …. tough. Tough in the way that there are days when I’m just sad and weary of the struggle. Of course, it’s not always this way …. but those days do creep in.

    It took me (about 2 months in) calling my dad one day (we’re particularly close) for me to realize we weren’t alone in this. He could tell I was depressed and said, “Rough time, huh?” When I said yes, he said “The first year was the hardest for us, too. Seems like it’s that way more often than not. It will get easier, I promise.” So, so reassuring to realize that we weren’t doomed, we were just … normal. Smart man, my daddy.

    So … to the anonymous poster … thank you. Your courage and honesty just gave who knows how many newlyweds the talk my dad gave me. And a reminder for me.

    Thank you. =)

  • Class of 1980

    ANSWER TO SARAH ABOVE (the comments ran out of room):

    I had an aunt who used to say that divorces were too easy and people just gave up too easily. She said that right up until her eldest daughter got a divorce.

    Her daughter married a man who made her laugh. He was a real character and he literally was doing pantomimes during their wedding ceremony. The guests were laughing while the bride was shifting nervously.

    After the wedding they moved to a new city. He was a podiatrist and opened his practice. They survived the slow grind of establishing his business. In the meantime, she supported them. They bought a house together. They planned on having two children.

    Then he discovered a love for performing in community theater which took up all his free time. He discovered he had no desire for children. His life was perfect the way it was.

    They went to couples therapy. My aunt said they were in therapy three years out of the four they were married. But therapy could not change the fact that he didn’t want children and she did. Therapy will never change what you fundamentally want for yourself and it shouldn’t.

    They got a divorce and she went on to happily remarry and have two children. I think my aunt finally realized that it’s possible for a divorce to be necessary and be no ones’ fault.

    Interestingly, my cousin has made remarks that indicate her second husband is fundamentally more like her. She is a very intelligent, but very conventional person and so is her second husband. Marriage to a podiatrist who is really a frustrated actor and no family of her own was never going to suit her. But she had no idea on her first wedding day that her path was going to be a crooked one.

    • Class of 1980

      Not the same Sarah who posted right above me.

  • Jerry

    As one the girls that loves APW that is not engaged and nowhere near it. I loved this post. My bf and I went through 8 months long deployment and I thought that would be the hardest thing we ever went through, but it hasn’t. It’s been being apart and in the same country that has been the hardest because you’re a plane flight away. And despite all the fighting (there’s been a lot lately), we still love each other. We’re both stubborn about things, but we are also stubborn about this relationship. And I think that’s how you have to be until all of it stops working.

  • Christine

    As a girl not in a relationship anymore, I too related to this post. I am having the hardest time of my life now.
    I was in a relationship with my best friend, soulmate, and everything seemed good the first 2 years. Were we in the honeymoon phase? No. While being deliriously happy, we were also working our issues and setting the foundation and expectations. We fought and made up easily.
    The next 2 years were hard, we came home to Asia, We realized I was not ready for a relationship but we had chosen each other. He had felt i best moved in with him but i was not ready to break the cultural expectation and live in sin. I got depressed, emotionally abusive and didn’t know it. We couldn’t talk, have fun, rest. Ultimately he left to keep himself.
    I realized we needed counseling late in the game but it never came up. In our culture, that is frowned upon. 6 months after he left, I started Christian counseling..alone. Counseling and therapy should not change who you are, just brings out the one trapped inside. I had seen I fell into the cracks of negative childhood influences, and when we came home continued getting more negative influence from family and friends. Counseling helped me see I lost to my surroundings and things fell apart because I lost me.

    This is like my first year of marriage to myself. Once I regained myself one session at a time, we are able to talk more through the hard stuff. We are not together but those talks help me validate my recovery and gives me the sense of coming home to myself. Life gets harder but it also gets easier with the sense of belonging. I realized that what brought us together were compatibility and common wants and needs. I lost it when I forgot that to fall into expectations. The same way too much expectation on your marriage on time stamps (oh I had them) may do to some. It is unnecessary pressure that sometimes break people’s back.

    Counselling is hard, it forced me to look at my problems point blank, it made me look into the present in glaring light. But I also pulled out my values and defined those that were half done before the relationship broke. Fundamentally I saw that the person I am is the same person I was before I got depressed, because that’s what I’m made of. To you, that’s what your vows are for, the reason you have chosen each other.

    I lost love because I allowed myself to lose my sense of belonging and shut down ( while the poor man tried and never gave up till it was too hard). When all is so hard, APW gives me a sense of camaraderie that while we ate all different, we are not alone. Reclaiming Wife helped me understand these ideas I had set mid-counseling about what my women roles should be vs what my family and society wants me to play out. This became Reclaiming Self.

    • Clover

      The idea of “Reclaiming Self” that you develop in your comment is really beautiful.
      :::hugs::: from across the ocean!

      • Christine

        Another thing I missed out is. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. You almost always have to. Because that’s the only way you could save yourself.

        Always know that he wanted to help you because HE WANTS TO. He wanted to change because HE WANTS TO. Not because you made him to. He may appear strong, calm and upbeat when he is crumbling inside because he wants you to be well and happy more than anything else.
        It hurts him much more than you hurt yourself if he is not getting to you.

        Part of the counseling that hurts me the most and I felt like tying myself on the bedpost is not when I was going over the grief of being left alone, but knowing that I was not left alone for a long time. He was trying so hard and hurting. So he had to do what he had to do.
        The part that hurts me the most is seeing what kind of hurt that I was inflicting MORE than the hurt I had gone through. And going through these months, I lived that pain and longing that he definitely have endured all this time – a much longer time than I had.

        I have since learnt to be grateful for such a lovely man and my best friend in my life. He is my greatest loss and my Greatest Gift

    • Alexandra

      Awww, Christine! Big hugs to you! & Best Wishes with healing yourself and getting to a place of wholeness where you can be a good partner.

      • Christine

        Thanks girls for the hugs. The holiday season is a hard time because you see the family and feel alone. I also handled it harder as that was when we separated last dec. In the last few days I took some time to evaluate how I have been, not just how I have behaved and why.
        I am extremely business like, so when I ran a mental SWOT in my head, I was startled at how much my weaknesses outweigh the strengths. And the strengths are verbs not attributes. I did a confessional and realized i had allowed other people’s lives to overtake mine as I did not have one of my own for some years. I looked at the reasons of why I was loved in the first place- for my strength, independence, free spirit and drive for life. And saw when I had given up on seeking a life, I lost those too and became an empty shell.
        This year is for disaster relief and next year for reconstructing my life from scratch,

  • I so appreciate this honest post, it makes me adore APW all the more. Your friends & family may tell you this stuff but mainstream media doesn’t advertise anything but the honeymoon phase. We’ve been lucky with honest family & friends who have shared their first year marriage experiences, everything from the honeymoon phase to the most difficult phase. We have no idea what to expect but I know we won’t feel alone or abnormal. Good or bad, I’m ready to stand by his side & take what comes our way. Best wishes to all of you~

  • Harriet

    My first year of marriage will be long-distance. My fiance has a good job that he loves, but it requires him to be gone a lot (as in, all the time except every other weekend and holidays). When we get married, he’ll have had this job for two years. It was really hard at first, and it still is sometimes, but I’m so grateful that he has work that he truly enjoys doing, and that’s given him a lot of interesting opportunities. I’m a little worried that being long-distance married won’t feel like we’re actually married, or that people are going to harass me about when we’re going to be “really married,” ie, when we’re going to live together. Right now the plan is for him to start grad school in my town (I’m also a grad student) about a year after we get married, and after so long in a long-distance relationship it’s possible that the second year of marriage will be a significant shift for both of us.

    We thought a little bit about putting off the wedding until he quit his job, but we know we want to get married, and we have no interest in a two year engagement. As it is, we’ll already have been engaged for a year when we do get married. So I guess I’m more apprehensive about the second year of marriage then the first, or about not even getting a chance at a honeymoon phase in the first year, since not much will change in our day-to-day lives (though maybe I’m all wrong about that one).

  • merryf

    Monday was my 6-month anniversary, (still crafting a graduate post, I swear I am!) and to say that it’s been hard is an understatement. The entire year of 2010 has been difficult, including my husband being out of work since Jan. 1 and trying to plan a wedding not knowing if he will get a job (he hasn’t yet), and serious parental illness that did not end well (if you know what I mean). This morning we kissed for the first time since, oh, maybe September, life’s been that hard and overwhelming.

    The worst days are the ones on which I wake up and think, “Oh god when will this be over?” — like it’s a college class that will soon end, or an internship, and I can go back to my “real” life: the life I had before I decided to be in a partnership, the life where I count on only myself. The best days are those on which I remember that none of the Bad Things this year are anyone’s fault; I’m not being punished for something I did, and Husband isn’t being punished either (it’s a recession! many people out of work! you’re not alone!). I repeatedly tell him that this, too, shall pass, and we will get through it and remember — if we can do that, we can do anything.

    But even though I have fantasies about getting in my car and driving on Route 80 westward until the car runs out of gas and I end up in some town in the middle of the U.S. , I know that’s not really what I want to do. Even in these dark days for us, having a person whom I trust to be with, means everythign to me. And I know it does to him, too.

    So while we take days off from each other, and he goes home to visit his parents for a weekend, and hang with his buddies and drink beer, and I take time to read books and sit in my craft room for hours at a time, we always meet up again. Because for us, being together when it sucks the big one is going to put all the years ahead when it will be boring or whatever, in a bit of perspective.

    Since we didn’t have a honeymoon period, we didn’t even go on a honeymoon after our June wedding (see reasons above). We decided to go on a First Anniversary-moon instead. If we can get through this year, it will surely be something to celebrate!

    • merryf

      P.S. Just have to say how much I love and appreciate APW. I’m so grateful that this is such a Safe Place to discuss these things. Everyone has such valuable things to say. Yay APW and Meg!

  • Rebecca

    I can so relate to this – highs and lows… The initial three months after the wedding were awesome (with the usual everyday grizzles). We spent three weeks in France in June for a conference/belated honeymoon and it was amazing, with none of the claustrophobic bickering I thought might come with three straight weeks of only one another for company.

    Then we came home to a totally ransacked house and a decent dose each of swine flu, and that threw us into a slump – which turned into what I’d diagnose as a quarter life crisis for my husband, who seemingly struggled to find a balance between his life as husband and mortgage-holder and the life a few of his friends still have (which he kinda missed) of zero responsibilities, financially or to significant others. Meanwhile I was up to my eyeballs in PhD programme, struggling with household responsibilities and the gradual leaving-of-uni-town of my amazing female support network, not to mention feeling trapped in a marriage that wasn’t looking much like the one I had envisioned.

    End result – what began with an huge breakdown on my part and an ensuing epic-scale argument morphed into us finally communicating the crappy spaces we were both in. Finally, we have been addressing a lack of quality “us” time as well as the crappy job we were doing of sharing financial burdens, and (several months down the track, with episodes of both of us thinking “what the [insert bad word here] am we doing all this for?”) we seem to be out the other side of a pretty rough few months.

    We had been together (with highs and lows, obviously) for nearly nine years when we got married, lived together for three, and I really never thought being married would bring big changes for us as a couple. Turns out I was wrong – and I also seriously underrated the effect of such a huge life-step on my easy-going, seriously non-introspective husband. It’s funny – the act of actually committing, publically and with the intention of forever, to one another was equal parts catalyst for epic life-transition drama and strength for seeing it through to the other side.

    Ultimately, being married is freakin’ awesome. And my post seems a little incoherent, even to me. Whoops.

  • Ariel

    As someone who is not yet married, but who has experienced a lot of seriously crappy times in the course of my relationship with my fiance this far, I really appreciate this post and all of the comments on it.
    I just can’t express how grateful I am to have found a place where people talk/type openly about things like this. It feels good to know that all of you are out there somewhere!

  • Bloom

    Ahh thank you, thank you for this post. I felt my whole body relax and was able to take a big deep breath when I read this, realizing that whatever stuff around marriage you have to deal with and face in your relationship – everyone has to do at some point. (I always catch myself comparing my insides to other people’s outsides, it’s not so fun.) It’s been interesting to read some people face the “big issues” head on while they’re dating, others when they’re engaged, and then others after they’re married. Though of course I’m just talking about issues around tying the knot – not to mention all the other things that come up over the course of your years together. I’ve been engaged 6 months, getting married in April, and we had challenges from the get go – we’re from different countries, cultures, religions – but we knew we wanted to be together in spite of all that. We talked through all those differences ad nauseam in the first years we were together – but once we got engaged we had to go back and reevaluate whether we were okay with those compromises and choices now that this permanent thing called marriage is mere months away. This post/comments also helped me remember that there is no universal answer for how you SHOULD feel or what you’re SUPPOSED to be doing. You stay in the present and do what’s right for you in your own relationshop. Sounds obvious I know, but it’s amazing how often I forget that.

  • Very wise.

    This part: “I’m very social and community-oriented. My husband, on the other hand, would be happy if it was always me and him,” sounded familiar to me. We’ve been talking a lot about the difference between introversion and extroversion a lot in our home lately. Neither is better than the other, but they are both different. And the way an extrovert looks at the world can be very different from the way an introvert looks at it. My husband and I are both introverts, so our life probably looks very boring and quiet to most people. Most evenings for us involve us maybe sitting in the same room, but each doing our own thing (generally with a book, or I might be knitting). Such a life would drive an extrovert insane. And going out every night with friends would exhaust both of us. People talk about “love languages,” but there are other things to consider as well. I’m glad you two are finding something that works for the two of you.

  • Mollie

    WOW! At the bottom of the page, I have been thinking for WEEKS that it said “12 newer comments” rather than page 1, page 2. I was like, “crazy, every day there are exactly 12 comments that spill over onto the second page… wait, this one only has two…”

    Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled sanity and loveliness.

  • I feel like the sentiments and issues discussed in this post are true for me and my relationship at the moment – I’m not married, but engaged, and the engagement period has been particularly hard. Before the proposal, we we floating along happy as clams. I have been engaged now for 6 months, with another year of it to come, and I am finding that we are having ugly conversations, fights, indepth talks about uncomfortable things, all unpleasant stuff. I was trying to work it out, trying to justify why two happy, in-love people are suddenly going through such a rough time because of a silly ring. I think maybe it has to do with me needing to be 100% sure about marrying – so all these tiny issues are becoming magnified and worthy of argument. This post has reassured me that it is ok and has also bolstered me into being more determined to work things out.

    I have noticed that Meg has mentioned that her engagement period wasn’t blissful either. I wonder if you would write a post on it, Meg? I found this one particularly helpful and I’m sure there must be others who had a rough engagement time.

    • Laura

      As a person also going through a rough engagement time, I send you a big squeeze.

      My parents divorced after 32 years of marriage and 5 children. Somehow, it didn’t seem scary for me to be dating, but committing to a marriage is making me ask so many questions, approach issues that we are polarized on more often, and so on and so forth. I’m getting exhausted by it all. I miss all the fun we typically have.

      The Conscious Bride was great to read, and I’m excited for the pre-marital counseling adventure we’re embarking on. Otherwise, I’m trying to give myself permission to feel how I’m feeling, and also permission to experience joy without fear. There is no part of our lives that we can be completely in control of. Loving in the first place was a huge choice to let go of fear and embrace the unknown. I’m trying to remember this!

      I wish you many good things!

      • Thanks Laura. You’re right, there’s a lot of “I shouldn’t be feeling like this!” – when really it is ok to feel it. I’ll hunt down that book at my library… Thanks so much!

      • Christine

        This is specifically true, that loving means not fearing because you know you could leap and never fall. Someone is right there to break your fall and push you higher. If you really do fall, he would give you his hand to pull you up again.
        He is doing this because he wants to. He is changing because he wants to.
        And it is all that matters in the end.

    • meg

      Go look at all the “Our Planning” posts. I don’t need to write a post about my engagement process, because I was writing this blog during all of it, silly. So, it’s already writen.

      In a way we lucked out. Because we were from different faith backgrounds, we had to hash out the really ugly hard stuff right away. We’d known each other for a decade before we got totgether, so the first year was basically, “Ok, can we work through this painful faith stuff enough to make this work? If not, we better call it off now.” So a lot of that REALLY hard work was stuff we did early. We joined a shul, I met with a Rabbi, I wrote and read a lot about faith and blending families, we had long conversations and huge screaming fights. All taht stuff is really really important, and you have to do it sometime. Most people don’t do it as early as we did, so they do it during the engagement and/or newlywed phase. So if you’re doing it now, that is SO great, and SO necessary. I’d suggest starting your pre-martial conseling now, because it can really help you deal with all these issues.

      Our engagement period was hard just because A) Wedding planning totally blows and B) Dealing with family expectations, blending families, and the reality of how much a wedding costs in a big city? All that is hard. It was pretty much that simple.

      So good luck, you’re doing it right, and go sign up for your pre-marital counseling already.

  • Rachel

    This is just what I needed today :) This will give me the courage to talk to my FH. :)

  • …amazing post.

    I’ve had some of the hardest moments of our relationship in the 6 months that followed our wedding. Not a single person ever warned me.. & I wouldn’t have believed them if they did. It really isn’t bliss and cupcakes for everyon – AND THAT IS OK. I feel like some people DO have that perfect sittuation & never fight – but for some of us – it is harder. Way harder.. & that doesn’t at all mean that we shouldn’t be together – or that we love eachother any less. It just takes time & the faith in those decisions that you made on that very special day.

    Marriage is tough – but it is so worth it.

  • Private for Now

    Thank you ladies for your brilliant honesty. Me and the future Mister have been together for over a decade. Our honeymoon phase was early on in our relationship (the first year) but soon after because of our decision to have an abortion, it cause a HUGE rift that has taken many years to heal.

    That wasn’t the only cause of relationship drama add into that we were relatively young, having MAJOR family issues and both from dysfunctional homes (like everyone else). There has been infidelity on my part in the past (I don’t if he has), years of a lack of intimacy, unemployment, unrealized expectations, we have both disappointed each deeply at time. We are currently weathering the storm of dealing the deaths of several family members and health issues of our parents . Thats not to say that there haven’t been blissfully happy times where looking at him literally makes my heart well up.
    Because he is my best friend, he makes me laugh, he puts me first. He’s the man I want to father my future children. Though his eyes I see the woman I strive to be. I love him and we both need each other.

    We now have lived together for few years and are planning to wed. The history of our relationship speaks to what many of you here have experienced. I know that once we are married, that there will continue to be had times but there isn’t anyone else that I;d want to go thru those times with but him.

    • Christine

      Oh I wish I could just reach out there and hug you.
      I can relate to you on that. My ex and I had such a harrowing experience too, with my lack of family values, unmanaged anger, unrecognized depression, inability to be intimate and my huge emotional unavailability. The last is rather odd since I am a very emotional person. I was constantly bashing myself up because of insecurities and most of the time I made it seemed like I was mad at him and everything else.
      As much as I was so unsettled, I would be happy everyday, even if I’m mad and user, that first 5 mins that I see him, I’d at least have that 5 mins of really happy, everyday. He is my best friend and was for a long time my only family.
      But he put me first, he endured, then left as the only way to save us both.
      I still see him frequently at work, he sees I am working through these issues now.
      In his face I see my downfall, in his eyes I also see who I am, becoming and supposed to be. I grow stronger and better seeing that everyday. I grow and realized this is what he was trying to show me.

  • I’ve been thinking about this one. As we’ve told a lot of people that we’ve been married for a year now, they keep congratulating us and telling us how hard the first year is. It’s like we’re getting a seriously mixed message. The first year is supposed to be a hugely difficult transition period and it’s supposed to be a blissful honeymoon period. So if you mention to the people who think it’s a period of bliss that you are having difficulty they think there’s something wrong with you. And if you tell the people that think it’s a difficult transition period that you’re doing great then they think something is wrong with you. So apparently there’s just something wrong with all of us.

  • Thank you for sharing your story with us. I too am having some trouble with different expectations especially regarding how social we are / I am. In fact we had a pretty big fight about it this week, to the point where I was shut in the bathroom in tears scared for the ability of our marriage to survive. We talked the next day, but it’s still an issue. But we are talking about it, and both working on ways to find balance and make sure we are both happy.

    Sometimes is definitely is hard, but if hard now means that we’re building a strong foundation and solid communication skills, it’s worth it.