10 Things My First Year of Marriage Taught Me

Is it just me or has it been an absolutely crazy week? I'm almost glad that it's over- I'm ready to turn the page into a fresh new one. However, this week did bring some exciting things that I cant wait to share with you all! Stay tuned for some exciting news :)

In my endless quest for blog post topics, I've been continually reminded that I post plenty about my baby and being a mama, but I don't write enough about my relationship with AJ and things I've learned since entering in to this crazy thing we call marriage. I want to change that. Relationships (whether dating, engagement or marriage) are something we all experience at some point or another. Navigating life with another person is hard, to say the least, and I want to be as transparent and genuine about that as I am about being a mom or my incessant love of coffee.

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So...to start things off, I thought I'd share 10 things-some pretty obvious, some I've had to learn 100's of times- I've learned in my year (and a half) of being married to my handsome man. It's not an exhaustive list, but rather the top things that popped to my mind when I was asking myself what I WISH I would have known at the beginning. Also, AJ can tell you that I mess up on probably every single one of these every single day. But that's the beauty of marriage- you get a whole lifetime to work on it ;)

1. Don't get hung up on non-essentials:

This one is HARD for me. Marriage is the union of two completely different people who spent their lives doing things the way they were used to doing them- until they got married. Now, even the way you fold towels or put the toilet paper roll on or make sandwiches is different. It can seem like you're not even "compatible" (whatever that means...) at times just because the list of things you wish the other person did differently gets so long. I've learned to just let most of it go. Who cares if AJ folds clothes differently. At least it's getting done. Ask yourself, "is this REALLY important?" before you get angry about it. Chances are, it's not.

2. Don't have unrealistic expectations:

I found that I usually expect way, way too much of AJ. I entered into our relationship expecting AJ to basically fulfill me and when I found out that he couldn't- he's a person, Olivia, not some ideal you've constructed in your head- I didn't think we could work out. In my naivete, I thought getting married would fix every problem in my life. My problems are still here though, I just have someone by my side to help fix them.

3. Forgive for real:

Once I got over seeing my husband as an "ideal", I learned that he was human. Shocking, right? And humans make mistakes. We've both had to forgive each other for things every day. Holding on to past mistakes, no matter how big or small, only drives you apart. Forgiveness, real forgiveness, means giving your spouse a clean slate.

4. I am not number one:

Learning to put yourself second is hard. But it is essential for any relationship to work. When I look to AJ only to meet my needs, instead of asking how I can meet his too, I drain him without giving anything in return. Marriage is a continual giving of yourself to another person- who in turn, continually gives to you. If it's a one sided giving, one person naturally gets burned out.

5. The small things are what count:

In the movies, we are shown grand gestures of what marriage is. Huge proposals, dramatic fights, passionate sex scenes, slow-dancing and candlelit dinners. Don't get me wrong- marriage is that at times- but not ALL the time. It's the day in, day out, going to work, making dinner, taking out the trash and giving each other quick kisses on your way out the door that real marriages are made of. Honestly, the times I appreciate and love AJ the most are when he gets up with Evie at 5:30 am just so I can sleep longer. Or when he brings me lunch when I'm at work, just to spend time with me. Or when he texts me "I love you" during his lunch break.

6. Have time apart:

Before I got married, I truly expected us to do EVERYTHING together. But I quickly learned that without short times apart to refuel and be alone, we quickly burnt out. Who ever said "absence makes the heart grow fonder" for the first time...it was Shakespeare probably....was a genius. Being married doesn't mean you can't have a girl's night, or time to grab a beer with the guys after work. It just means you better be home before midnight ;)

7. Say "thank you". A lot. :

I learned very quickly that when I didn't feel appreciated, or when I wasn't showing AJ how much I appreciate him, things unravel quickly. It can be as simple as saying, "thank you for working so hard for us, babe" or "I really appreciate it when you take the trash out". Nothing fancy. But trust me, it works wonders.

8. Say "I'm sorry" more:

Sometimes all it takes to stop a fight in its tracks is admitting that you were wrong. Don't expect an apology in return, just own your side and move on.

9. Say "I love you" the most:

It seems obvious, but just saying those little words is probably the healthiest thing I can do for my marriage. It reminds me of why I'm married in the first place, and that we have something to fight for. And plus, I get little butterflies every time he says it back.

When I was preparing to write this, I asked AJ what he thought should make the list. Of course, he gave the most profound advice. I could have summed up all of my points with this one.

10. The wife is always right:

See what a great guy I have? ;)

What would you add to the list? What are some unexpected lessons marriage has taught you??

Last photo taken by A Moment Photograph