Thoughts on Marriage after One Year

Can you believe it has been a year already!? That’s what Brian said to me this morning and he is right, this year just flew by. Lately, I’ve had a chance to take part in a lot of conversations with my friends about marriage. We all agree that we get so tired of everyone acting like things are perfect or, at the other end of the spectrum, of people getting divorced after only a few months or years. A lot of us younger couples never get to hear much about those who have struggled through things and managed to stay together. Of course, people say “marriage is so hard” but that doesn’t help much. Without going in to a lot of detail, I’d like to share a few of the things Brian and I have learned in our first year of marriage.

Dealing with the hard times…
-Don’t just think you’ll never get divorced, you’ll live happily ever after, and that’s that. If you had asked me last year if divorce would ever cross my mind I would have said absolutely not unless there was cheating or abuse involved. Let me tell you, I had serious doubts this year that I never saw coming.
-Sure, some couples are “perfect”. But I guarantee you, if you open up to your close friends about marriage issues you will find out that many, many couples go through more serious rough patches than you had ever guessed. Our issues paled in comparison to some of the things my friends had gone through, and I felt so much better knowing that a lot of other people have struggled too.
-Fight!! Please, please, just fight! Okay I don’t mean scream and yell and definitely don’t start slapping. If something is on your mind – tell your spouse. If a topic comes up in conversation and you feel uneasy – let him (or her) know. Don’t just let it go and build and build. I used to think all the little spats we have were a sign of a poor relationship. Now I feel like that is all part of working things out. I’ve seen more than one friend keep everything bottled up and when they finally let it out it was much, much harder to deal with and recover from.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. It is hard to tell what is going on when you’re so involved. Go to a pastor or an older couple and ask for their thoughts. We have avoided discussing our marriage too much with our own parents and friends who might judge just because their opinions might be too biased. πŸ˜‰

Enjoying the good times…
-We started a new thing a few months ago that I really, really like. Almost every night we turn off the TV and computer, sit down the knitting or paper, and just talk to each other. It sounds silly but we really didn’t give each other a lot of undivided attention until we made a point to. Even 5 minutes makes a difference. We just level with each other about how we’re feeling and if things are going right or not.
-Do what the other likes. I’ve sat through a lot of tractor pulls (not that I don’t enjoy them but they aren’t my first choice for entertainment) and Brian has listened to me ramble on about my garden and my blog. Do what you both like too (for us it’s relaxing on the front porch or going to the rodeo).
-Laugh together! I love it how we both try to impersonate a funny thing the cat did that the other person missed. We can’t help but laugh when Brian is running around the house in his underwear and cowboy boots with a cookie sheet in hand trying to kill one of our many bat invaders.
-Ask each other’s opinion. I am so in awe of Brian sometimes when I expect a smart remark and he gives me a serious, thoughtful response instead. At the same time it feels really good when he says, “What do you think we should do?” and values my feedback.

Overall…

I think we’re more in love than ever. We’re truly best friends, and are very well matched. Last night we went out for our anniversary. Brian confessed, “Umm… I still haven’t got you anything.” Oh thank God!! I had spent the last hour on Google trying to figure out what I could make/buy/do for him since I hadn’t thought of anything yet either. We went out to eat and drove past the movie theater on the way home. “I had halfway thought of asking if you wanted to see a movie…” I trailed off. “…yeah, there wasn’t much on when I checked earlier and…” he said. “…and I’d really much rather go home and relax” we decided. πŸ™‚

We have done so much this year besides get married that I think we came through it very well. We’ve dealt with the barn fire, a lot of family issues that come with buying the home farm, starting a business (farming), fixing up the place, and stretching our budget to the max in order to avoid taking on any debt this year. Oh yeah, and remember I’m trying to learn how to grow and preserve most of our food while Brian runs in five different directions catching runaway cattle and fixing the semi. Maybe the best recommendation would be to live in an apartment the first year (with maybe just a cat), work 1 job each, and go to the grocery store more. πŸ˜‰

I hope you got something out of this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on marriage.

P.S. Sorry no “new” wedding pics, I’m trying to dig some up but they’re all copyrighted with the photographer so I’ll have to ask about that.

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12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Marriage after One Year

  1. Farmer's Daughter

    Happy Anniversary! Ed and I lived in a little apartment over my parents' garage for the first few years of marriage, with our dog Dukie. While money wasn't a real stressor since we didn't have any bills, I can say that our first year of marriage was the hardest (at least so far). Even building our house wasn't as hard on our relationship as that first year of marriage.

    Your celebration sounds like our typical celebration… we don't buy gifts so we can save money and we enjoy the rare night out!

    I'd love to see some wedding pics if you can get them online!

    Reply
  2. Sandra

    Happy Anniversary! My husband and I have been married 43 years, they haven't always been easy, we have nearly gave up several times. I think doing things together and being best friends is the answer. Also, don't leave God out of your marriage.

    Reply
  3. Jena

    Thanks! That is so good to hear that your first year was the hardest. I hope that's the case for us and I feel like it will be. I've heard building a house can be very, very stressful on a marriage. I'm glad you guys handled it well.

    Yeah, I couldn't think of any gift that I wanted when Brian asked. We usually plan and budget for things we need and have been so focused on our goals that we don't "want" much little stuff. Umm… I'd like a bean frencher, an incubator, and a kitchen aid mixer.. how romantic! πŸ˜‰

    I'll see what I can do on the pics, it'd be fun to share.

    Reply
  4. Jena

    Sandra – Thanks for sharing! I wish there were more people like you around to encourage newly married couples. If we all heard more about the challenging side of things I think we'd be better off. I hope you're enjoying the blog, and congratulations on your lasting love!

    Reply
  5. MoBea

    Jena- I've been married 34 years and you and Brian are on the right track. I especially liked the "do what the other enjoys"- I have knitted through innumberable ball games of every sport you can imagine! and my husband has driven me to innumberable yarn shops and waited patiently (okay- not always patiently but he tries and that's what matters!) For our last anniversary we bought each other log bunk beds for the cabin! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. Everydaywoman

    Happy 1st Anniversary, Jena & Brian!

    You're so right with everything you've shared! How did you get so wise in just one year of marriage?

    I love what you said about just spending 5 mins. together, just talking and listening, without all the other distractions. We've got to try that!

    For someone who has been married for 32 years (wow, how is that even possible, because I'm definitely NOT that old), it's an ever-evolving work in progress. Like anything worthwhile, marriage takes a bit of work and compromise, but it's definitely worth it!

    I can't believe the people we know who have given up during the first year, before their life together has really begun—or even, later, like after 25 years of marriage. . . I don't know what's worse!

    We're pretty old fashioned and both my husband and I were brought up to think that marriage is forever, unless, of course, in the instances you mentioned.

    Enjoy and just know, it gets better all the time. The busier you get, the years roll on, and life just kind of takes care of itself.

    Oh . . . and did I say I was a child bride? I was, at just 19, which I can't even imagine today, but we beat the odds.

    CONGRATS!

    Reply
  7. Jayme

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    It seems that you have a lot of wisdom for your young years. I've been married 26 years. It's not all been easy, it's not all been bad. We do pretty good together. I go to old car shows with him, and he helps me pick out fabric….lol.

    Here's to many many more years together….and getting a dairy cow. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  8. angie

    Hi Jena,

    Congratulations. I wish you many more years of happiness together!

    Here is our secret after 13 years – there is no one in the world that I would rather spend time with than Bill. I married my best friend.

    I think you did too.

    p.s. I have a book recommendation for you – Mad Sheep by Linda Faillace. Excellent read but also very enraging.

    Reply
  9. Jena

    Molly – Oh, good idea – I haven't drug hubby to any yarn shops yet! Maybe on our vacation I'll try that one. πŸ™‚

    Ruth – Thanks for your encouraging words. Abbie and Ed are in a lucky and rare position to have both sets of parents modeling great marriages. I'm luckier than some since my parents were together until my early teen years. I don't know how people who can't remember their parents being married stand a chance, and that is so sad!
    I'm glad to hear things get even better, that sounds like fun.
    I guess it depends on the person and not the age when you're married. People said I was young at 21 but I felt ready. I see all these 18 year olds from my old church marrying each other while off at bible college and I just cringe. I hope I'm wrong but I bet they don't have a clue what they're getting in to!

    Jayme – I'm really enjoying your blog and am glad to have a fellow cow seeker! Maybe someday.

    Angie – Well that makes me feel good because I would definitely rather be with Brian than anyone else. It is so nice to completely be myself with someone!
    I have actually read Mad Sheep and I LOVED IT! It was one of the best books I'd read in awhile. I guess my frustration had kind of worn off but now that you mention it, I remember feeling really unhappy with the government after reading it. When I was in college I really wanted to work for the USDA and I wondered if I could have been sucked in to their evil ways. I felt like some of those agents must have convinced themselves they were doing the right thing. How, I don't know.

    Reply
  10. Julie

    Happy Anniversary!!

    I think our 1st year was the hardest, too…though we've gone through some rocky times since then. I think it's important to renew our vows in my own mind every once in awhile even when we're going through a down time or don't feel "in love". Those times pass and then things are better again. =) And I'm learning to LIVE 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It starts off "Love suffers long and is kind". I need to BE those things and not have demands on him. When I'm patient and good and kind there is a much happier atmosphere in our home and things are good. If I take things in the wrong way we both seem to feed off of that and it snowballs and gets worse and worse. We can't change other people, but we can change or control how we do things ourselves! That has made a huge difference!!!

    I wish you a lifetime of happiness together! =)

    Reply
  11. Everydaywoman

    Jena~
    I was married at 19, but that was a generation ago. My father said I was way too young, but I was a "good, Catholic girl," and I was working full-time, as was my husband, who was 20 yrs. old. You didn't live together, or at least we didn't at that time, you got married. At our 25th anniversary, I told my Dad I guess we proved him wrong, and now it's 32 years; just can't believe it.

    I can't even imagine our youngest son at 20 thinking about marriage, but everyone is ready at different times. You were definitely ready at 21!

    The main thing is we grew together, not apart, but that doesn't always happen. But the MOST important thing is to support each other in whatever each is passionate about; even if the spouse doesn't share that same passion. For us, it was my husband supporting me through college once our kids were in school so that I could fulfill my dream of being a teacher and me supporting him in his wild ideas: walking with bears, rafting the Colorado (and going on these trips, of course!); buying YET more farm and construction equipment, or a snowmobile, or a pregnant Shire from Michigan.

    Somehow, it works! Now, I'm starting a Doctoral Program, as well as working fulltime, and Al thinks I'm nuts to want to do this, but as I was cutting his hair last night (which I hate to do, well not really!), he said he supports me in whatever I want to do.

    OK, enough advice from the old grandmother-to-be! YAHOO!!!

    Reply

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