Apr 04

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

Marriage

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. If you can make it through, it’s all downhill from there. This statement might be true, because we definitely had some issues during our first year.

It probably didn’t help that we only knew each other for about five minutes before we tied the knot. This is an exaggeration, but not really. We were engaged for about six months.

After the honeymoon was over, we quickly discovered that we are both first born children, which means we both think we are right even when one of us is wrong.

Because we’d only known each other for a short period of time, there were so many things that we didn’t realize about each other and these quickly manifested themselves as stumbling blocks that we both tripped over. Simple things that most couples do together, were challenges in the beginning.

Challenges

We had the stereotypical scenarios that everyone faces.

Deciding which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang.

Over the top is the correct way of course.

Or the right way to squeeze toothpaste out of the tube.

Always from the bottom up, leaving no drop of toothpaste behind.

Then there was the Toth vs. Mike argument, in which both of us would say,

“Well, that may be the way YOUR family does it, but MY family does it this way.”

Making the Bed

The first time we made our bed, everything was going fine until it came to the sheets. My wife started tucking the sheets under the mattress. I stared in disbelief and asked, “Are you not doing hospital corners!?!” She replied, “What are those?” Having been in the military, of course I knew the proper way to tuck in the sheets so that that you could bounce a quarter off of them. As I proceeded to show her the right way to make a bed, she said go for it. It was then that I noticed that the top sheet was on the wrong way. My mother taught me to have the decorative side down. That way, when you turned down the sheets, you could see the decoration instead of it being hidden. She watched, and let me do my thing. I still make the bed to this day.

This may be where the phrase, lay in the bed you made, came from.

Grocery Shopping

During our first trip to the grocery store, it seemed like every item that we needed became a discussion. Which spaghetti sauce was the right kind or which items you can buy generic and which ones you never substitute. We had to come to an agreement on every item that we put into the cart. Then when we got up to the checkout lane, something strange happened. My wife just started putting random stuff up there. Now, having bagged groceries before, I knew that there was an order to how everything was supposed to go down the line. So, I took over organizing the items. Once again, she stepped back and let me.

It seemed like a trend was developing here…

Laundry

The first time my wife did the laundry, I recoiled in horror when my clothes had wrinkles. Didn’t she know that some of the items needed to be taken out of the dryer after five minutes and then hung up to dry, so they would be wrinkle free? Looked like I was going to have to show her how to do that as well. When it comes to which clothes need to be placed in the dryer and which clothes need to be hung out to dry, my wife stated that I am, “Way too frickin’ picky.”

Guess whose job it is to do our laundry? Yep.

Don’t get me wrong, my wife does so much! More than I could possibly list. But, if I had an issue with the way she did something, it quickly became my new job.

My wife is smart.

Conflict Resolution

Trying to listen to and understand each other in the first year takes some serious intentionality. If a new couple has this part figured out, the rest is smooth sailing. We are not perfect but we have a pretty good handle on this now. Not so much at first. Here are some methods that I tried out in the beginning.

The Kicker

We won’t talk about the time I got so frustrated, I walked over to the (EMPTY) car seat, that was sitting near the door, kicked it and broke my toe. I don’t even remember the circumstances but, man was that dumb. Hind sight is 20/20.

The Silent Treatment

On one occasion, in which I can’t recall what I did wrong, my wife refused to talk to me. She avoided conversation altogether and would walk away from me when I approached her. Not sure how to go about rectifying the situation, I had the great idea of playing a song on the stereo. It was the Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. It was so ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh and it seemed to break the ice. If this doesn’t work for you, I apologize in advance. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

It was a lot less painful than the car seat incident.

Just Get Out

While driving in the car probably after a grocery trip, we got into a heated discussion about something. In my frustration and being done with the conversation, I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out and started walking away. My wife, equally as done with the conversation, switched seats and drove home to our apartment. So I kept walking headed in the direction of the apartment complex. The distance was further than I expected, but I finally got close to the apartment. Then there was the creek, with no way to get across. So, I had to turn around and walk back the way I came. It was just then that it started to rain. When I made it back to where I got out of the car, my wife pulled up. I was gone so long, that she started to worry and came back to find me. Thank goodness!

Solution

Eventually, I wondered if the problems we were having, had something to do with me. There was no way that it was my wife, for she is perfect in every way. It seemed as if there had to be a better way to go about this marriage thing. I heard Dave Ramsey say, “If you want to be smart, you do what smart people do.” So I thought, if I want to stay married I should do what successfully married people do.

The best place for me to get that information was from books. So, I began to read marriage books. As I read, I realized that what we experienced was typical and that smarter people than me had it all figured out. I didn’t think we needed any counseling, but more of just a guidebook or a game plan.

Like I mentioned before, we are no where near perfect (Facebook lies) but I feel like researching the experts took us to a different level. If you want to start somewhere, reading a book is a great place.

Out of all of the marriage books I read, here are my top three recommendations.

Love and Respect – Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

     This book talks about the difference between a woman needing to feel loved and a man needing to feel respected. It is an eye opener in how different we are from each other and how to sort through that. It also discusses the “crazy cycle” which you need to hear about.

For Men Only and For Women Only – Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

     These are actually two books, but they go together. They are loosely based on the previous book, but the authors use polled research from real people to get answers that are game changers. I suggest each couple read both of them. I have been recommending these books, non-stop since I first picked them up years ago. But after you read them, please resist the urge to say, “Remember what it said in the book?” You are going to want to and it doesn’t go over well. Speaking for a friend.

Confessions of A Terrible Husband  – Nick Pavlidis

     Lessons learned from a lumpy couch. Nick is very transparent on his marital shortcomings and what he did to make the necessary changes to turn things around for himself, his wife and his children. It is a funny book and a quick read. And Nick is a great guy.

What challenges did you face in the first year of marriage?

Share in the comments below.

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  • Imjeremyshelton

    Some of my favorite books I’ve read on marriage is by Dr Laura Schlessinger – The proper care and feeding of husbands changed so much about how I look at marriage & her next book The proper care and feeding of marriage just builds on the principle.

    • David Mike

      Thanks for sharing! I will have to check them out.

  • I don’t remember us having any challenge worth writing home about in the first year (or the 8 years following). We had been best friends for a long time prior. However, when we became parents – and discovered we each had different parenting ideals – things got ridiculous.

    God and God alone has brought us this far. Ten year into the parenting journey, we’re both far less ‘pigheaded’. Faithful is He.

    • David Mike

      Parenting also happened in our first year. That was happended to be less of a struggle for us for some reason. Or maybe that’s just how I remember it. Or oldest is sixteen now.

      • Our son’s name is Samuel – intentionally – which say something about why he never showed up until our ninth. Hehe

        Maybe you should tell us about your parenting journey too. *hint hint* I would certainly read it.

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