The other day it dawned on me that I was close to being married for a year.
That’s not to say the idea suddenly crept up on me in the night and I went into a full panic. No, I’d been aware that the one year anniversary was right on around the corner since about Thanksgiving. It just dawned on me that it was really happening.
Since then I’ve given a lot of thought about what the last year has been like, and in the wake of all that thinking, I’ve found that a lot of my friends are now engaged or have set dates to get married to long-term boy/girlfriends. Hell, even one of the writers on here, a lifelong friend of mine, is getting married this summer.
So what I thought I’d do with my article this week would be to break down what you can expect – in general – in your first year of marriage.
First off, everyone, from my father down to my co-workers, told me it was going to be tough. The first year is the roughest, they said. My father even put it like this: “If you can survive your first year of marriage, you can survive anything.” So expect that – expect to be put on your ass about weekly; stunned and shocked by your spouse, as the two of you struggle to form a lifelong bond.
Sure, in most cases, the people I know who are getting married here in 2010 have been with their significant other in a co-habitative environment for some time (in my cousin Jaime’s situation, her and her boyfriend have been living together for like, five or six years). But it’s different when you finally get married.
I can’t explain it, because Ang (my wife) and I had been living together for like six or seven months before we got hitched. In the last year it seemed like multiple times during a month we’d be invading the other’s space – something we hadn’t felt while dating.
Though, we find ourselves in a special circumstance that most other couples won’t have to endure. Due to the nature of my work, I’m gone for half the week – just enough time for both of us to get used to the idea of not having the other one around. And then, like that, we’re thrust back into each others lives. This is frustrating, but we make it work.
So my advice: Have your separate spaces confined to the property. Husband’s need Man Forts, whether it’s a back office, or a shop in the garage, whatever. Women should find something equally liberating, away from the space you both inhabit, whether it’s a spare bedroom where you do needlework or … fucking, I don’t know, what do women do in their spare time?
My next piece of advice would be to LISTEN. So many arguments can be avoided in that first year if both people are LISTENING to each other. Don’t just HEAR what your spouse is saying to you, but LISTEN to it, compute it, and stick those little bits of information away in some special folder in your brain. Why? Because the things you two argue about are always nearly identical.
I’d give you an example of something Ang and I always argue about, but I can’t remember any of that shit. So see, I’m still working on it.
Next, remember that you’re working as a team. There are now two of you acting pretty much as one person, and your choices and decisions have to reflect on the impact those choices and decisions can have on BOTH of you.
This is something I have the most trouble with, where I’ll take an opportunity to do or say something, without thinking about how it might effect my spouse, which will always have a negative result. Never is there a “oh, how thoughtful of you to do that for yourself without consulting with me first,” reaction.
That isn’t to say that you have to constantly check in with your spouse, but just keep them in mind when you’re out doing things. My rule of thumb: If I think I need to ask Ang’s permission to do something, I probably shouldn’t do it before sending off a quick text or phone call first.
Finally, check your ego. No one is “in charge” of the marriage, except the two of you (see above). Just because you’re the bread-winner doesn’t mean you get to make all spending decisions. Just because you stay at home 90% of the time, doesn’t mean you get to run the house the way you see fit. It’s a shared democracy at home, get used to it. And like a democracy, you can have departments, like Finance, Interior, etc, where you have your little meetings to discuss what’s going on in whatever, but no one “runs” the household alone. It’s a team effort.
So I hope my lessons of the last year can help those who are embarking on a wonderful institution. Being married is easily the best, and most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and a decision I will never regret. I married my best friend, who happens to be a hot piece of ass.
Life can’t get better.