After “I Do”: Guest Post by Jillian Manning

7 Lessons Learned in the First Year of Marriage

When Craig and I got married in the summer of 2014, we’d been friends for eight years, together for four, and living together for one. I thought we knew everything there was to know about each other, that actually being married wouldn’t change a thing. On one hand I was right—we still love spending time with our families, watching Netflix, and snoozing on Saturday mornings—but on the other hand I didn’t really know what marriage had in store for us. Here are some of the lessons we learned in our first 365 days as a married couple.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Manning

Photo by Windborne Studios

 

  1. “We” is the correct pronoun. I don’t generally consider myself as a selfish person, but it was a real adjustment to start thinking about fully sharing a life. It became our bank account, our car, our muffin tin (“but honey, you never use the muffin tin!”). After weeks of sweet, if not-so-subtle reminders from Craig that we were now full time partners in everything, I finally caught on. Studies have actually proven that couples who use “we” tend to be happier and more satisfied in their relationships, so let him lay claim to that muffin tin, even if he will never remember what cabinet it lives in.
  1. You will be asked two questions…a lot. The first question is: “How’s married life treating you?” or, my personal favorite, “Do you like being married?” You will be asked this at every family gathering for the foreseeable future. I don’t recommend taking the sarcasm route (“It’s just terrible!”) because it tends to frighten well-intentioned relatives. In fact, enjoy this question while you can, because the second question is: “When’s the baby coming?” That one still makes me run from a room. I’m just fine raising a kitten for now, thank you very much.

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Photo by Windborne Studios

 

  1. Always say please and thank you. An important life lesson at any age, but even grown-up, boring married people should remember that kindness and good manners go a long way. I love when Craig compliments a dinner dish I’ve made a hundred times before, or thanks me for doing something as simple as getting him a glass of water. I love that he always empties the dishwasher without me asking, or that he will go to the kitchen for me even if I’m in closer proximity. Showing your appreciation—both by being the doer and the thanker—in big and small ways can make all the difference.
  1. Less can be more. I used to be one of those people who needed to have plans every weekend night, who needed to be capturing all kinds of exciting, hilarious moments on my camera so I could post them to Facebook the next day. But now, my idea of a perfect Friday night is the two of us making a delicious dinner, watching a movie, and crashing before 11 p.m. My new favorite moments are way too mundane to be shared on Facebook, and that’s just fine with me. Sure, we still love spending time with our friends and trying new things, but there is a wonderful simplicity to life that I’ve found with Craig that I wouldn’t trade for all the retweets in the world.

 

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Photo by Windborne Studios

 

  1. You get to say “Mr.” or “Mrs.” That’s right. I’m now Mrs. Manning. I added that extra “r” to my prefix and gained a new name (and dropped about 10 places in the alphabet from B to M. Sigh.) Sounds like a pretty obvious observation, but it really is an identity shift. We married relatively young—23 and 24—and there’s something a little unnerving about calling myself a wife. My mom is a wife. My grandma is a wife. I’m…a kid playing house with her college sweetheart. But despite our youth and the fact that I still sometimes accidently sign my maiden name, it is kind of cool to call myself Mrs. Manning. Like my ring, it’s a tangible reminder that Craig and I have committed to a bond that we plan to make last a lifetime.
  1. Prepare to be domesticated. You won’t yet find me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but you’ll often find two of the three (I’ll let you guess which one still makes me nervous). I’ve found that despite being a Type-A, 50-hours a week worker, I actually enjoy baking cookies, doing laundry, and making our bed. Not in the same way I like eating cookies, shopping for new clothes, or going to sleep in our bed, but that’s okay. Embracing my inner ’50s housewife didn’t turn out to be a bad thing, and I’m perfectly happy having Craig as my official spider killer, top-self reacher, and go-to grill master. 

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  1. Some things never change. In our first year, we moved across state lines, got new jobs, adopted a kitten, and bought a house. But through all the ups and downs, we stayed us. We still laughed at each other’s silly jokes, still went on we-have-no-money dates, still snuggled up on the couch to watch TV, and still said “I love you” every single night. What we had as friends, significant others, and fiancées never went away. We had each other. For better or for worse. And definitely forever.

 

Jillian Manning is a new wife, a kitty mother, and a writer. You can find her on Twitter @LillianJaine or at www.lillianjaine.com.

 

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