Monday, October 19, 2009

Things they don't tell you about the first months of marriage

I always here people say "The first year of marriage is the hardest", but, they never elaborate on it. They never tell you why the first year is the hardest except to say it's hard to get used to living with another person. Well, I've had room-mates, so I didn't really buy that. I figured there was something else. Truth be known, there are a lot of something else-es.

I had a really hard time adjusting that first month.  The Guy is going to read this and be like "You had a hard time? YOU HAD A HARD TIME? WHAT ABOUT ME????" but he's really yell-y about things like that.*

The first month of marriage was -- at the same time -- one of the greatest and hardest months ever.  The Guy and I eloped in July in order to avoid one or all of the following things 1) living together before our wedding, 2) one or both of us being homeless until Sept, 3) I needed to renew my passport before Sept and didn't want to have to do it twice (to reflect the name change).  Instead, we eloped, bought a brand new house (it was new to us... and only three years old to everyone else) and moved in July 13th. 

Both of us had been homeless for awhile after selling our "singles" houses -- me two weeks, The Guy two months.  My stuff had been in storage; his stuff was in his sister's garage.  We got married on July 7th in North Battleford, had one night for a honeymoon at the Indian Casino** and then The Guy went back to our fair city the next day.  We had been separated for 2 weeks before and one week after.  We were both absolutely frazzled.  Then we moved in.

In a week, we had more or less made the house inhabitable.  The Guy was working 9 days in a row and I was sick as a dog.  I wandered the house in a daze of antibiotics, cold medication, confusion, and exhaustion.  The Guy buzzed around the house on caffeine and nervous energy.  We were a good pair.

Being together (more often than just when our ridiculous schedules would allow) was fantastic.  We got to see each other for a few hours a day.  It was magic!  We revelled in each others company.  We sat and cuddled on the couch, we took walks with the dog, we ate suppers together that we had cooked together, we watched TV shows the other person liked.  We were thrilled.

However, we had both been used to a lot of alone time.  We had watched our own TV shows.  We had eaten on our own schedules.  We had different bed times.  We had different routines.  We bought different brands of things and expected different things from each room, each appliance, each stick of furniture.

Suddenly, one day, I realized we were going to have to figure out how to combine our expectations into something we both could live with.  I sat on the floor in the walk-in closet*** and put my head in my hands.  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't know where I belonged and what my role was.  I didn't know where to put the vase that The Guy would agree on as well.  I didn't know how to arrange things so each of us was happy without the other being miserable.

It's been a few months and we're getting to a place where it's our house -- not just the place where we happen to live.  I do the laundry (because my sisters have taught me) and he loads and unloads the dishwasher (because his mother taught him).  He cleans and I help him out.  I try and keep my things tidier than I'm used to and he sometimes lets me leave things where they don't belong.  He tidies up behind me and I try not to leave as many things for him to tidy up.  We both take turns cooking or we cook together.  Or, we make cereal because we're both too tired to move.  He goes to bed early when he needs to for work and I go to bed a little later.

We're working on it together.  So far, it's a pretty good system. Now, I'm pretty content -- both with the marriage and my place in it, but I imagine I will look back one day and tell anyone who will listen, "That first year of marriage was the hardest".

* Kidding.  I think I've heard him raise his voice once.  And that was at a football game.
** Nothing says honeymoon like the Indian Casino.
*** Jealous??


  1. Oh, first year of marriage. I'd never say it's always the hardest, but it's hard for me to have perspective because ours was pretty unusual(combining moving across the country, finishing a Master's, starting a PhD, and two people dying, all within a month or two of getting married = pretty exceptional).

    But you're right: it's the millions of small adjustments that are hard, especially because there's this part of your brain's that adds "THE REST OF OUR LIVES" to every bit of tension or disagreement.

    Patience, a sense of humour, an open mind, lots of love, and the willingness to make it work: we need every one of those things.

  2. What do you mean "first" year? There's more than one? What?

  3. "I didn't know how to arrange things so each of us was happy without the other being miserable".

    Figuring that out should keep you busy for the rest of your marriage. I hope you are more successful than I was.

  4. Why did you go all the way to a casino in India?

  5. Man, my first year of marriage was awesome. Mel's first year of marriage, different story.

  6. the first year isn't the hardest- its when you have your first kid. wait... that was the same thing.
    good thing most fights end in making out, er up.
    relish the time you can have sex any time of day without putting kids down for naps.


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