9 Lessons from our First Year of Marriage

On October 6, we will celebrate one year of marriage. So, naturally, we now feel confident handing out expert relationship advice! (Just kidding.)

But in our first year of marriage, we have learned a few good lessons that we thought we’d pass along to you. Here are nine.

1. Finding and learning new rhythms is important.

The first weeks of marriage were a whirlwind. Everything was new and exciting and fun.

But at the same time, it uprooted pretty much most of our previous rhythms. Dale moved to a place that was 20 miles away from where he had lived his whole life. We now shared a bed. Whenever we thought about eating something, it was a now a joint decision as to what and when. We now had to be mindful about when we went to sleep and woke up and how much time we spent at work.

These aren’t bad things. They’re just new. You’re starting a new life together, and that means lots of little changes along with some big ones.

The good news is that the exciting and fun far outweigh any strain of adjusting your rhythms.

2. Your family dynamics get twice as weird…but you get to laugh about it twice as much.

Family is weird. And everybody’s family is their own particular brand of crazy. And when you get married, your family gets twice as big. So you not only get twice the amount of crazy, but a wonderful blending of different flavors of crazy to form an entirely new dynamic.

And while it may be tempting to let that become a source of conflict between a husband and wife, it can actually become a source of comic relief too. You just have to choose not to take things too seriously or too personally.

The important thing is that we’re in this together, even above our respective families. As long as we keep that in mind, we can choose to serve one another’s families with love.

Everybody’s family is their own particular brand of crazy. And when you get married, your family gets twice as big. So you not only get twice the amount of crazy, but a wonderful blending of different flavors of crazy. Click To Tweet

3. Your money decisions take twice as long but end up being twice as wise (hopefully).

For as long as we’ve been working, we had spent our money any way we saw fit. We had never checked in with anybody on what we were buying or how much it cost. We would just make those decisions ourselves. Sometimes in a snap.

But you can’t do that in marriage. And that takes adjusting. A regular text message each of us now receives from the other is, “Is it okay if I buy this?”

Setting a budget together requires discussion, debate, and negotiation. But the good news is that with that much intentionality and dialogue, we’re more likely to make financial decisions that will benefit us as a couple.

Setting a budget together requires discussion, debate, and negotiation. But the good news is that with that much intentionality and dialogue, we’re more likely to make financial decisions that will benefit us as a couple. Click To Tweet

4. Your personal needs don’t disappear.

As exciting as being together all the time is, your individuality doesn’t disappear. Each of us has our own need for space and alone time.

This is something we didn’t realize when we were dating. Because at some point, the date always ended and we left one another.

Now, being married, we realize how important respecting one another’s need to have some alone time is. It also means knowing one another well enough to realize when the other one just needs a few moments (or hours) alone.

The thing about two individuals coming together is that you normally don’t want alone time at the same time. So both constantly need to be aware of one another and willing to sacrifice for the other.

5. Spending downtime together is important.

We started our marriage with full-time jobs while also going to school full-time. In the middle of a semester. It worked for us, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

It’s amazing how little we can see each other in a week–even as we live in the same house and sleep in the same bed. Life is just that busy.  

So it’s important to spend downtime together. Chill on the couch together. Go out to get something to eat. Watch a movie together. Sit in the backyard and talk about life. It reminds us that we like each other.

6. You need to be each other’s biggest fan.

We both have incredibly busy and overly ambitious lives. And it has worked out pretty well for us. But a large reason that’s the case is because we have become one another’s biggest fans.

We don’t inflate each other’s egos for the sake of being supportive. But encouraging one another in our strengths has been important. It is easy to be our own worst critics. So honest and true support from one another allows us to keep pressing forward.

We have bonded over one another’s encouragement in ways we could have never imagined. Coming home knowing you will get an honest opinion and someone rooting you on is a place of safety and assurance.

It is easy to be our own worst critics. So honest and true support from one another allows us to keep pressing forward. Click To Tweet

7. You need to pray together.

We don’t put this in here because we want to be seen as super spiritual people, but because it is something we have learned. You would think as two people in seminary, prayer would become a natural part of our relationship. But it wasn’t. We had to learn how to stop and pray together.

Honestly, this is not as second-nature as we would like, but we try and make this our first response. Instead of trying to share our opinion and advice in one another’s lives, we want to seek God.

As individuals it was easy to focus on our own spiritual health. But we want this to become a foundation of our marriage.

8. Sometimes the hill isn’t worth dying on.

Both of us are very strong willed and maybe even a little stubborn. Maybe. So we had to learn the importance of choosing which hill we die on.

There are important moments to stand your ground when you both disagree. But those are far less than the ones you decide to compromise on.

Sometimes emptying out the dishwasher for the third time in a row is not worth expressing how frustrated you are. We both don’t agree on the way clothes should be put away.

And that’s okay. We can still live together and enjoy it.

This first year of marriage has been a year of growing together and growing as individuals. Many people warned us how hard this year would be. While we didn’t really experience that, we have learned to adjust to one another. The truth is this will be something we continue to do the rest of our lives.

We look forward to many more to come. But most of all we look forward to knowing one another better than we did before.

Many people warned us how hard this year would be. While we didn’t really experience that, we have learned to adjust to one another. The truth is this will be something we continue to do the rest of our lives. Click To Tweet

9. There’s always time to fall in love all over again.

No matter what’s happening in life, there’s always time to remember that you love each other. When you’re laughing, when you’re upset, when you’re bummed out, when you’re bored, when you’re thrilled…whenever. There is always time to fall in love all over again.

 

Written Together by Dale & Tamara Chamberlain

3 thoughts on “9 Lessons from our First Year of Marriage

    1. Thanks, Susanna! We’re hoping we’ll have increasing wisdom to share with each passing year. 🙂

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