As Chris and I approach our One Year Anniversary in only a few days I find myself thinking and reflecting on the last year quite a bit. I have a couple of friends that are in serious relationships and are currently tracking towards engagement and I feel the need to be quite transparent here. I have no intention of scaring them off or wanting to change their minds, but it seems to me that you hear from two main groups when it comes to marriage - The younger marrieds in my experience have a tendency to lean towards only telling stories of their first few years being this blissful honeymoon stage, and then there are the older marrieds (Married 20+ years) who have made it through the trials and are seasoned enough to admit the truth. Marriage is hard work. So very worth it, but also really quite hard. More so than I think most people expect.
My concern is for the newlyweds. What happens when you get married and 6 months down the line you realize just how hard marriage really is? There are all these pressures to talk about how happy you are (Some of which I have felt, and given in to) and perhaps even a caution towards talking about the harder parts. I mean if you just got married, what will people think when you tell them about the tough things you are going through? Will they question the relationship? Make comments about how quick your courtship was? What if they have had doubts all along, and now you're giving them space to voice it? No one wants to hear I told you so, and the last thing a newlywed needs is to feel like they have to defend their marriage or their spouse.
Unfortunately in the attempt of protecting your marriage from outside criticism, a person can easily do internal damage. Not only do you need to be able to talk things through with a person or persons, but you need to know that what you are feeling and experiencing is completely normal. Don't believe the lie that everything should feel and look perfect in this time. Before we got married Chris and I were often confused by the old adage "The first year of marriage is the hardest" but now we can see how true that may be.
Now don't get me wrong- there has been way more good than bad. We have experienced the beginnings of a lifetime of happiness. I no longer put seasoning salt on his eggs, and he notices that I've made them just for him. He can get me a cup of coffee anywhere without having to ask what I want in it. (And it changes depending on how strong the coffee is) The joy that comes from getting to know someone intimately and feeling taken care of on so many levels is indescribable. I often look over at him on any given day and ask God why I deserve to be so blessed to share my life with this man.
I know it may sound like I am contradicting myself. Marriage is hard.... but it's the best thing I have ever done. If you're married I'm sure you understand, and if you're not then I hope you'll track along with me during this series as I try to explain at least my own experience with the wonderment that is (my) marriage.
So to be clear, I am not claiming that I have an abounding wisdom about marriage, or that I am in a position to give advice to anyone. I just simply want to share some of what I have learned, and more importantly I want to strip away some of the shame that we feel when we struggle. I've decided to start a series called Confessions of a Newlywed, and as I share some of my own experiences I am also reading The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller, so there will be a small book review component in there as well.
I hope that this series can be a blessing to some- I know it will be for me as I write it. I would love to have a couple of guest posts as well- if that is something you may be interested in, whether you are a "young" or "old" married, please let me know! I would be so happy to learn and share your experiences and wisdom with others.