My whole life I’ve heard that the first year of marriage is always the hardest. When Mr. Prince Charming and I got engaged I was bombarded with ‘wise words of advice’ from those who had taken the plunge before us, and always atop the list were pointers for surviving the first year. I always knew there would be some truth to this, but I assumed because we had lived together and virtually functioned as what I thought a married couple might be like it would all be different for us. To my credit, there has been some truth to that, but I would have to agree, the first year probably is the most difficult. I’m coming up on my 6 month anniversay of marriage (already!!!) so I have no base for comparison outside of the first year, but based on this experience I’d like to give some insight into what I’ve discovered.
I think the battle in the first year isn’t necessarily the pure and simple fact that you’ve gotten married. I often wondered what the big deal was, after all my feelings wouldn’t change. I already loved Mr. PC more than anything I’d ever imagined so how in the world would making an official testament to each other make things more difficult? But it does. But not for the reasons most people probably think.
For me, having lived with Mr. PC for 2 years before marriage it was basically a day of celebration to my mind. But it is so much more. Immediately after marriage I realized, to my own surprise, that it was indeed possible to love someone even more. I don’t know if it’s some instinctual right of passage babble, but I felt an instant connection that hadn’t been present in our relationship before marriage. It was loving in a different way. Respecting a different way and knowing that I would be faced with challenges and sacrifices and being more than willing to face each one with my partner. We had become a unit. The strong willed, stubborn and incredibly independant woman inside me softened a bit. No, I didn’t lose myself, that would not be good. But I realized that all that had led me to where I am, and had brought me to a man that respected himself and me and our marriage. For these reasons, some challenges arise that you never expected.
When a girl gets married (I’m speaking from my thoughts and experience) it’s fairytales, ribbons, pretty dresses and certainly for me nesting a home and eventually building a family. My friends were giggly and giddy with the same excitement, many of them married or on the way themselves. We share the experience of being a wife, a lover and the dreams we all had as four year olds. Nothing in the friendship changes, the dynamic stays the same; just with different topics of discussion. I no longer wanted to head to the bar to prowl for hotties on Saturday nights, but instead a night at the movies, nice dinner or drinks at a swanky bar would suffice. Furthermore, by nature of ‘coupling’ a lot of our outings have shifted to double dates, or couple parties. It’s a natural progression, but no one said it was an easy one.
For a guy, I think the challenge is adjusting to your new unit while maintaining a ‘bond with your boys.’ In our case, Mr. PC was the first to bite the bullet. For most of his friends, they had seen it coming for some time after he met me so it was no surprise, most had started forming the dynamic of the friendship once he’d been taken off the market. But a few, most who happen to be single or not in the realm of thinking of popping the question in their own relationships, had a harder time making the adjustment. No, I am not saying that you have to lose friends or even change your friendships. It’s healthy to have friendships completely seperate of your marriage. But the dynamic does change—it has to. Things that were okay before become inappropriate. No, my husband cannot be your wing man and ‘entertain’ the friend while you attempt to get a number. Late nights at the bar getting sloshed and scoping chicks no longer apply. And comments that attack or, even in humor, comment on the marriage aren’t exactly acceptable. I think too often the new wife takes the blame for ‘changing the guy’ or ‘keeping the old ball and chain in a ‘cage.’ Things just change and these changes have to be reflected across the board—for both partners. Obvi, trust should be at the core of every marriage and it shouldn’t matter if your hubby is out at a bar with single guys, getting hit on or throwing them back—you should have enough trust to know that nothing would ever happen. And I do, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with it. My challenge as a new wife is to learn to realize that although I no longer feel the need to let lose and reconnect with my college years, Mr. PC might, and I should allow that to happen without complaint or my favorite hat trick, whining. The truth is, I know he loves me and respects me to the point that he would sit at home every single night of his life if he thought it would make me happy. And that’s why I love him. And trust him. And am going to make a concious effort to get over it. This is marriage, and the challenges you face—things that never crossed your mind before you said “I do.” But when you’ve found your soulmate, it’s all worth it. It’s a discovery process, and that in itself will help to build the strong foundation of a marriage. Discovering how to love each other even when you’re mad or annoyed with one another, and learning to talk it through and compromise. And as we all know, the make up session afterword is almost worth it… 🙂
Bottom line, once you’ve figured out who’s responsible for trash duty, all that icky financial stuff that makes eveyone nauseous and you’ve discovered how to continue to nurture and grow yourself and your friendships outside of your marriage, it gets a lot easier. Until you add kids to the mix….
…stay tuned for kiddie tales in a few years!
Listening to Hit List, Comcast channel 521.