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What I Learned In My First Year Of Marriage

27/03/2017 08:02 SAST | Updated 27/03/2017 08:06 SAST

For BRIDES, by Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW.

Andrew Mark

"The number-one thing I learned is being married is different than just being in a relationship. I had dated my husband on and off since high school. After we married, we became a unit, part of a team. You can't have a winner and a loser between you; it just means you're both losing." —Rachel

"Back when we were engaged, during an argument I would often say, 'Fine! Then maybe it's not going to work. Maybe we should just break up.' I was purposely trying to make him angry. Obviously, we'd then work past this flippant comment and compromise to find a solution. After we wed, I just said my usual snarky comment with a tweak: 'Fine! Then maybe we should just get a divorce.' Whoa. I unintentionally deeply wounded my husband in a way I didn't expect because to him 'breaking up' after we had taken vows had a different significance. And that's how I learned that there isn't an 'easy' way out of marriage. It takes work, and choosing my words carefully is part of that work." —Kelly

"In my first year of marriage, I learned how to let go of something that was not important. After discussing the point of contention and seeing that both parties acknowledged what happened, I just said, 'I love you again.' And I was able to shift my energy to the higher ground and return to the magic of peace, love, and contentment!" —Biba

"We played the what's-for-dinner game. Being young, we were both learning to cook. Every couple of nights I would ask, 'Honey, what would you like to eat tonight?' He would say, for example, 'Pork.' I took that as a challenge to come up with some new way to create a dish. It became a fun and healthy way to keep dinner interesting." —Alessa

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"I learned to listen more. When two of you are making decisions about how to decorate one room of the house or how to raise a baby, there has to be input on both sides." —Stacey

"My wedding to Justin was the best day of my life. Shortly after, my grandma, who I called Dodo, passed away. She was my everything — my best friend, my soul sister, like a second mom. Losing her so early on in my marriage, I lost sight of what was important: building a foundation with my husband. I stayed out too late at events for clients, didn't always communicate, didn't check in. I came to realize there's always going to be hard times, and we have to work through them together. I can't shut down even when I want too. Push communication, expect to fight, don't think the fairy tale has to be there, especially in the beginning. Marriage is a commitment, a bond. It's major work, but there are amazing rewards that come with it. At the almost-five-year mark, Justin and I are in a very good place. I now understand that when our parents would say, 'Do things together, find hobbies, make plans,' it's because spending time together helps you grow together." —Ali

"In the beginning, I took Dan a little for granted. Like, now that we were legal, I could just let things be. But I came to realize being complacent was a bad strategy. I let him know every day what he means to me: saying 'I love you', making sure to always have his favorite snacks on hand, asking him how his day went and really listening!" —Beth

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"We are each other's priorities, but in the beginning we let our friendships slide, and it got a little claustrophobic. So I try to get together with the girls a couple times a month, and he does that with his guy friends. It makes it more interesting when we get home and can share stories." —Lisa

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