The First Year of Marriage

The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Kevin and I actually survived our first year of marriage.

Originally, I had different plans for this blog post. I was going to talk about all the problems we encountered over the past year and how we worked through them as a married couple. But I had this realization (thank you, family book club — stay tuned for that blog post) about the general view on marriage and married life, and I think it’s pretty cynical.

Sure, there is talk about how great it is to be married but mostly what you hear are things like:

“Marriage is hard.”

“You think married life is great now? Wait until you’re married for 25 years.”

“Marriage is easy until you have kids.”

“Oh, you had a fight about who ate the last piece of chocolate? Wait till you have a real fight.”

The point is, who woke up one day and decided that marriage had to be hard? What if it’s the easiest thing in the world but we expect it to be hard and so it is. What if, rather than seeing growth opportunities and challenges, we see problems and struggles?

What if we change our perspective? What if we wake up every morning and think, “Being married is so easy.”

For those of you who don’t know Kevin that well, this is exactly how he lives his life.

I will be on some rant about political and social issues and how the world is in the toilet and why are there so many horrible people commenting horribly rude things on social media and did you even see what fecking Susan just posted and I’ll say something like, “Doesn’t this make you so angry, babe? I’m so unhappy right now. I hate the world.”

And he’ll say something like, “I’m completely happy and I love my life and I love you.”

Or we’ll be arguing and I’ll say something like, “This is such a fundamental issue in our marriage that you won’t admit you ate the last piece of chocolate.”

And he’ll say something like, “All that matters is I love you and you love me and we’re happy.”

It drives me crazy sometimes, because I’m like, “Come on, Kevin, get riled up about all the injustice in the world with me and we’ll set things on fire and be angry together”, but this really is the way we should all be thinking about marriage (and life in general). Marriage doesn’t have to be hard, ever.

So, with that perspective in mind, here is our year in review:

We both experienced a tremendous amount of individual growth in our first year of marriage, and we worked through a few shared challenges. I think it’s important to separate those because, although we are now married, we are going to continue to grow and change as individual people. We are not always going through everything together, as one shared experience. In fact, with our six-year age difference I have been going through a lot of things that Kevin has already gone through.

It has been challenging for me to grasp the idea that I am the less-experienced (and occasionally less mature) person in this relationship. But the fact is that Kevin was in a 9-year relationship before we got together, while I had never really had a lengthy or super serious relationship ever. As a natural leader and very intelligent woman (and slight perfectionist), I am used to being really good at pretty much everything, and I did not want to admit to myself (or to Kevin) that Kevin was probably better at being in a relationship than me.

Oh, and you want to know why?

Because then I would be admitting that he was better at being married than me!

Can you imagine? The horror.

Luckily, a big area of personal growth for me this year was starting therapy. I have always, always avoided therapy because I felt like it was for weak people who couldn’t fix their own problems and had to pay someone else to help them. I also felt like it would make things very real if a therapist actually diagnosed me with anxiety and depression. When you self-diagnose, you can always tell yourself that you may be wrong. If it’s been clinically diagnosed, there’s no going back. But I hit a wall earlier this year and my anxiety was through the roof, I was having crazy mood swings, and I felt like I was living life under this dark cloud.

My lovely therapist helped me to realize that I could benefit from letting Kevin take the lead on certain things in our marriage, since he was more experienced, and that it didn’t mean I was a failure or that I wasn’t as good at being married as Kevin. She also recommended immediately that I change my birth control, and that turned out to be the major cause of the extreme anxiety, mood swings, and depressed feeling. I’m not even lying, I feel like a completely different person now that my hormones aren’t on some crazy rollercoaster. I am planning to continue going to therapy and I highly recommend it for everyone — let’s break the stigma!

I was going to write about Kevin’s areas of personal growth too, but that just doesn’t seem fair. I’m really trying to get him to do a guest post on my blog and write his version of The First Year of Marriage, what do you think of that?

Maybe I’ll get him to write something. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we had a few shared challenges this first year that we’d love to reflect on and share:

Finances

Everyone’s favorite word. We had a bit of a rough start to managing our finances together, but we’ve finally figured it out. Kevin moved to Utah before finding a job, and then had a pretty hard time finding a stable job for the first year we lived together. We didn’t want to cancel our wedding (and we didn’t have the greatest spending habits), so we forged ahead and racked up about $10,000 in credit card debt the first year we lived together. We started paying off that debt in January 2018 and I am happy to say that we now have $1,500 left on our credit card, which we are expecting to pay off next week. We are then going to tackle the rest of my student loan debt (about $10,000) and will be debt free by January 2019!

I manage the money, mainly because I like doing it, but Kevin and I try and have a monthly budgeting date where we go to Starbucks and plan out the month’s budget over coffee and pastries. We committed to a pretty aggressive debt payoff strategy for this year, which is working great but we slip every so often and we’re still trying to get the hang of not going out to eat as often. We have a shared bank account and it works great for us.

Cooking

As most of you already know if you’ve read my previous blog posts, Kevin does all of the cooking. There’s nothing I really love about cooking and it mostly stresses me out. Kevin does get tired of doing all the cooking, though, so we’ve had to switch things up. I am now Kevin’s sous chef so he tells me what he needs help with when he cooks dinner, usually chopping vegetables or making dressing or cutting up meat. I am slowly doing more and getting more comfortable in the kitchen and one of my goals for next year is to be cooking a few meals per week on my own. It sounds silly but I really never cooked growing up. I can even manage to burn bagel bites in the oven and mess up the recipe for Kraft Mac n Cheese.

It works great because I can usually get most of the dishes done while we’re cooking dinner, and we’re in the kitchen together as opposed to Kevin slaving away in the kitchen and me laying on the couch napping. I do the dishes after dinner, usually, as well as most of the other household cleaning so I think it works out to be pretty fair. We go out to eat a fair amount (okay, too much) but we’re trying a new thing where we have a planned date night and it’s either pizza night, Chinese takeout night, or dinner at an actual restaurant, so we’re minimizing the amount of shitty fast food we consume.

Carpooling

As part of our aggressive debt-payoff strategy, we sold Kevin’s truck (a heartbreaking day) and now have only one car. The only reason why this works so well is because Kevin’s work is literally a mile a way. I can drop him off on my way to work and he can either walk or get a ride home or I can pick him up on my way home. It would not work if we had jobs on opposite sides of the city.

It’s only been inconvenient a few times, but it has saved us money in gas and car insurance (plus the $$ we got from selling Kevin’s truck). And my favorite thing about Kevin is that he hates going anywhere by himself. This weekend, I was really sick, and I told him to go to Starbucks and get himself a coffee and some breakfast and I think that’s the first time he’s been to Starbucks without me since we moved in together. He adamantly refuses to go grocery shopping himself, and it really is way more fun to do all of that stuff together so we don’t mind sharing the car.

Driving the Corolla up in hunting country was a bit challenging/interesting. I think we gave quite a few people some good laughs. A new vehicle may be in the plans for next year, stay tuned 🙂

Marriage is easy…

All in all, it has been an amazing first year of marriage. It’s a little less weird now to say “my husband”, but sometimes I wake up on a Saturday morning and say to Kevin, “Can you believe we’re married?” Yes, he drives me absolutely crazy sometimes, but there’s no one I would rather go on road trips from Utah to Oregon with. He’s also really great at killing spiders, so that’s a plus. This morning, in the midst of both of us being sick, our kitchen flooded (we live in a basement apartment). I did not expect to be laying towels down on my kitchen floor at 7am and moving my stove out to get to the water pooled underneath it, suffice to say there really never is a dull moment!

We are looking forward to the next 50+ easy years of marriage! Stay tuned for more crazy adventures! ❤

Published by Sami Hertel

Oregon native, current Utah resident, blogging about my adventures on lifeafteroregon.com!

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