the first year of marriage... // Claire from a peachtree city life

Today, I am pleased to bring you the second guest post in my series: the first year of marriage. (You guys liking it so far?) Claire from a peachtree city life is the next guest blogger and I am so pleased that she wrote such an amazing post for you to enjoy. She is one of my new friends and I invite you to read her honest post about the worries + joy found in each other during their first year. She actually just celebrated her three year anniversary with her husband, Tony, this past Tuesday (the 24th). Happy Anniversary to Tony + Claire (and a million thanks, Claire!).

May 24th marks my third wedding anniversary with my husband Tony.  It's amazing to write that sentence, considering it feels we've been together for a lifetime, yet the day itself seems much more recent in my mind.  Marriage is a crazy combination of comfort, boundless love, tension, support, hope, and, let's be honest, a little boringness!  When Amanda asked me to write about our first year of marriage, I stupidly thought, oh! that's easy!  I remember it like it was yesterday... we were in love and everything was awesome!  Turns out, it's much more complicated than that.

In the spirit of honesty, I should say that Tony and I "lived in sin" (as we Southerners like to say) for a year before we were technically married.  We got engaged in the last few weeks of college, graduated and quickly got jobs.  We were ready to magically become adults (why the rush?? I ask myself now!).  We decided where we wanted to live and took the plunge to buy a new house.  

So when I think back to our first year of marriage, I am really thinking back to our first year of engagement.  To me, marriage is all about the beauty and chaos of two people merging their lives and their selves together into their own little version of a family.  It's not a paper stamped and filed away (ok, fine, technically it is....).  Regardless, we lived as a married couple that first year.  

You can know a person and you can love a person, but you cannot do that wholly until you share the same roof and the same bed and the same laundry basket.  Our first year, not unlike many other couples, was filled with ups and downs.  We were under added stress in that we had just made the major life change of graduating college and starting careers and buying a new home and planning a wedding - struggling to find our own new identities while discovering and developing our identity as a couple.  We had big dreams and infinite energy - tackling home projects and diving into work.  We were young and naive and each other's best friend.

We were determined to make it on our own, taking only the help that we really needed from our parents (which they gave readily, bless them).  We wanted to be independent.  I wanted a blogger's dream home (typical, right?).  I spent many hours frustrated that our dream life was just taking too long to build - we were starting from scratch.  We didn't have a can opener and we didn't have the money to buy one.  ...Slight exaggeration, but it often felt like our lack of "things" sometimes became insurmountable.

I should note here that Tony and I aren't necessarily the lovey-dovey type.  We share our love through laughter and support but you will rarely catch us smooching in public or waxing poetic about our love for one another.  Not to say I take any issue with those who show their love that way - but this is simply the way we are.  We are the quiet nonchalant type.  So I find myself relating to our first year of marriage in terms of our daily existence together - the struggles, the challenges, our environment - instead of focusing on the love we felt and our intangible "relationship" - and every crazy thing comprising it.  We got along beautifully, only small squabbles interrupting the tranquility of daily life.  I regret that I treated our marriage complacently, not thanking God every day that I had been given such a perfect match in Tony.

I'm reminded of an experience right at the end of our first year of faux marriage that is painful to remember, even now. [Side note - don't you just hate when you say something stupid or react impulsively and later that scene replays itself like a video stuck on rewind in your mind?  Thanks brain, I needed to be reminded of my idiocy!]  

A friend of a friend asked me causally over dinner what the greatest lesson was that I had learned in my first year living with Tony, and I stupidly responded with the crass answer of "We need to make more money" - followed up by a cynical laugh.  Brilliant, Claire.  The questioner laughed politely and turned away.  I burned with the shame of my answer, and I am often reminded of that  moment, wishing endlessly that I could rewind and re-answer that question more truly, more thoughtfully, more honestly.  

I was so focused on material worries and how we weren't "getting it right" that I was overlooking what was most important - each other.  We weren't exerting the effort we should have been on building the foundation of our marriage, taking for granted that we loved each other.  There was no question in my mind whatsoever that Tony and I were meant to be.  Our love was solid.  Our love was expected, a constant - I was unable then to see it as something to be nurtured and cherished.  

I will say that our early misdirection has impacted the way we are as a couple four years later.  If you've read my blog you are undoubtedly sick of hearing about this - but our recent focus as a couple has been to live more simply and focus on the important things in life - love, family, friendship, happiness, laughter - not on money or things.  The lessons I learned in that first year have indelibly changed the way we live.  We don't take our relationship for granted.  Tony is my rock, as cheesy as that sounds.  When nothing else seems to be going right, I know he is there for me and is inextricably wound up in my future.  I want it no other way.  


*claire* said...

thanks amanda! :)

Dionne said...

Great post! So true - it's about each other, not all the other stuff that can cloud everything.

Getting priorities in order, living life simply - making time to love - that's what it's all about! Love this!

Mrs. 5C said...

This is beautiful, and so thoughtful!

Shannon said...

Claire, my dear, this is so well-written! And seriously gorgeous wedding pics!

Amanda...great series! It's so interesting hearing other people's stories. It's not normally the kind of thing you sit around and talk about, ya know?


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