Let me start by saying I am not by any means claiming to be some type of marriage expert after only one year in. I am, however willing to share with you the major life changes, the blessings, the struggles and what I’ve learned in the past twelve months. Even through all the challenges I would not necessarily describe the past year as difficult. I’m not claiming it to be straight up easy, but I would instead say it was simply the most exciting year of my life and here’s how we made it that way.
Jordan and I didn’t live together before we were married and I can’t stress to you how glad I am that we made that decision. There are traditional marriage values that I find to be very important and that was definitely one we both agreed on. Starting our life together also meant creating a home together and it’s so much more exciting to do that at the start of your marriage instead of the middle of your dating relationship. I know it’s a little rare and there are plenty of people who move in together prior to getting married, but I’m personally so glad we didn’t jump the gun on that. The past year has been so much more fun because of that decision.
You may present the typical argument of how you need to live with someone before you know if you can marry them. I personally find that to be complete BS. If they are the person you’re supposed to marry, you’ll live with them just fine. Trust me. So don’t use that as a way to decide if they’re the one.
You may also present the argument of how expensive it is to live alone and it makes more sense financially to just move in together and share a one bedroom apartment. Let me remind you that moving in together is a huge life change and a big step in a relationship. Don’t rush it just because you want to save some money on rent and bills. It’s more stressful to break up and then have to go find your own place and awkwardly divide the furniture than it is to just wait and move in with the person you 100% know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.
Finances are the number one reason people get divorced, so you need to be completely up front in the beginning about debt, income, bills, etc. I find the best way to do this is to have joint bank accounts. My parents (the marriage counselors) suggested this to ensure we weren’t living in “financial infidelity”. There are no secrets as to who spends what, where the money goes, or how much money we have. And honestly, it makes life so much easier because you don’t have to act like roommates and split up who pays what. That would be so weird to me.
Jordan created us a spreadsheet with each monthly bill listed, how much we have to pay and when it’s due. We love updating the debt column when we pay things off. We’re working together to make our total amount of money needed per month as low as possible so we can live life exactly the way we want to. Having joint bank accounts is seriously the best.
I know it’s a little cliche but communication is key. Jordan and I are both so “go with the flow” that we had some issues in the beginning discussing things with each other before making plans with other people. He would make us dinner plans with another couple and I’d be like, “Oh wait I already RSVP’d us to an event for that night.” Or I would make us plans to do something and he’d be like, “Oh wait I’m going out of town that day for work,” We would keep forgetting to check with the other person first, causing some issues in our day to day scheduling.
I would say we have gotten a lot better at this over the course of the past year. It’s hard going from being single and only thinking about yourself to having to compromise things based on someone else’s schedule and time. Having a combined calendar on our phones is something we have talked about doing soon to make planning and communication even easier.
Speaking of time, one of the hardest things to deal with in the first year of marriage is finding time for not only your own friends and family, but your spouse’s as well. You suddenly have double the people to make plans with and it’s honestly a little overwhelming. You have to start by understanding that your friendships will change. I no longer have four girls nights per week and if you expect yourself to keep up with your friends the same way you did when you were single, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s just not going to happen.
Most of my closest girlfriends are still single, so this has been a huge struggle for me. But since Jordan travels a lot for work, I’ve been able to devote girl time to the days he is out of town. It has helped, but sometimes he’ll be gone for a week and when he comes back, I don’t talk to anyone for a week because I only want to hang out with him. It’s very one extreme to the other but we’ve gotten a little better at planning ahead to make time for everyone in our lives, plus each other. We always hang out just the two of us the day before he’s leaving for a work trip and I always try and plan something fun for just the two of us the day he gets back in town.
So like I said before, I am not claiming to be a marriage expert and even after everything the past year has taught me, there is still so much we have to learn. My parents just celebrated their 44th anniversary and I’m so thankful to have them to look up to and gain advice from. But the truth is, the first year of marriage shouldn’t be the hardest. It should genuinely be the most exciting year of your life and I’m so grateful for the past twelve months being exactly that. It all comes down to waiting for the perfect person God has picked out for you and starting your marriage the way He intended it to be. I know Jordan and I are going to have plenty of difficulties in the future, but if this first year is any indication to the rest of our lives, I have no doubt we’ll make it through whatever life throws at us. And I thank God every single day for that.