This year, I got married.
Well, perhaps I should say We got married, because it’s not like I got married all by myself.
Our first year of marriage has had a few start dates. We got ZamMarried in Lusaka. Then, we had a village wedding where we joined our lives (and shared pee bucket) in front of our fellow PCVs and villagers. Then, returned to America/Alaska (which are almost the same thing), we sealed the deal with $60 and a few State of Alaska forms. We didn’t really care about getting “officially” married in America, but apparently Norway (our next destination and job market) doesn’t like it when your only official documentation lists the bride as a 21-year-old “spinster” (as does our Zambian certificate). So, we made it official in one of the few states where literally anyone over the age of 18 can act as an officiant (and the age might be negotiable) and witnesses don’t have to have any form of ID. Hooray for loose cannon matrimonials (great band name, right?)!
Anyway, regardless of when it started, our first year of marriage has been full of all the ups and downs typically promised by big life decisions. We’ve been together in sickness (three exotic diseases each!) and in health, for richer and for poorer (as we stared at the menu prices in Alaska), and through meeting our in-laws, best friends, and neurotic pets. Rob has put up with my fish-obsessed family, and I’m slowly coming to terms with being surrounded by rough collies whenever we’re in his childhood home (#somuchdoghair). More than anything, we feel lucky to have each other and strengthened in our commitment to each other that so many people doubted (seriously, bets were made). We knew what we were doing then, and we’re continuously learning about this decision we’ve made every day since. We are happy, with doses of challenge.
But, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tough. We’ve had our arguments, our aggressive nudges under the table, our passive-aggressive laundry folding as we glared daggers across the clean socks. Marriage, it turns out, it hard sometimes! Even happy marriage. It feels like we’re rediscovering the whole experience of being married for all mankind, despite the fact that we’re probably the zillionth couple to experience the infamous First Year together. Throw in cultural readjustment and no permanent address and it seems like a phenomena worth its own study.
Which, since you’ve asked, is exactly what I want to do (you did ask, right?). We’ve been quizzing every married couple we’ve come across (my godparents, Rob’s grandparents, my relatively recently married best friends, etc.): what’s your secret? How have you made your marriage work for 55 (or 5) years?
We’ve heard all the things you might expect:
– Listen to your partner.
– Reciprocity is the key.
And some I didn’t:
– Never fight in front of other people.
– Always take your spouse’s side/support them, even when they’re wrong.
– Sometimes it’s better to defer and just let them be right.
– Try not to complain.
It’s been an education for me, being such a non-complaining natural deferrer of arguments (cue laughter).
But, this topic continues to fascinate me. I haven’t read a single book about “what to expect from my first year of marriage” because, frankly, I think it’s far more interesting to hear it from actual married and/or committed people.
So, married/committed in some way blog readers, what does it take to sustain and nurture a lifetime commitment? What are your secrets? What have you learned? What were the biggest challenges of your first year of marriage?
I want to hear from you! Who knows, maybe I’m even writing these things down and considering a book…! You can leave your thoughts in the comments, or, if you’d prefer, email them to me through the contact me tab (click the link).
Thank you for sharing, and I wish you a happy day with whomever you’re sharing it with.