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The First Year Of Marriage Sucks. You’re Welcome.

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I love the hope and joy heard around engagements and weddings. But sometimes I just want to scream: LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH. GET READY FOR WORK. GOOD WORK THAT YOU CAN BE PASSIONATE ABOUT, BUT WORK NONETHELESS.

When my husband and I got engaged, married friends pulled us aside and said: Being engaged sucks.

Thank you!

And it did. Planning a wedding amidst family opinions (don’t worry. at least I got to wear the white go-go boots. even if we did end up with a band instead of a dj) and wondering every time he farts or forgets IT’S-OUR-EIGHT-MONTHIVERSERY (or remembers, depending on where you fall on the great monthiversary debate) who is this guy I’m marrying, is THE WORST.

Because of our friend’s honesty, we limited our engagement to seven months. And had our wedding needed to be postponed? Chaos. Murder. And elopement. But luckily it came off without a hitch (well with one hitch that I’ll have to blog out another time).

All the guests left. Our home is full of kitchen supplies and a random red fake-rotary phone that I insisted be on our registry. I’m sitting around trying to figure out how to change my name without losing me.

Suddenly, we were MARRIED.

And guess what? He still farts like it’ll make him popular and he ALSO STACKS THE DISHWASHER WRONG.

As we faced these disappointments in each other and when I thought that slamming the door would make my point MUCH MORE LOGICAL, I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. Because it is our HONEYMOON PERIOD. If we are falling apart now, we are doomed.

The first year is NOT the honeymoon period. Seriously, don’t most divorces occur in the first year? That IS how I like to spend my honeymoon. Judge Keene and I laying on the sands of Belize toasting another DIVORCE COURT gone right.

Instead, my husband and I begrudgingly learned to ask the important questions: Why do you need to leave your socks all over the house like breadcrumbs?

And give important answers: Having your sock path is clearly more important to you than it is to me.

And have important thoughts: Would I rather be right (sock paths are weird) or happy (step over said sock path and kiss my husband hello)?

And at our one year anniversary, I said: If this is our worst year, we are going to be okay.

And we are. Wait, we are more than okay. I love Scott and our relationship more this year than last year. My heart is bigger. My sex life is better. My ability to be compassionate, caring, and hilarious have improved. Well, enough to make this year better than the last one.

So if you are in your first year of marriage and it sucks, take heart. We liked each other a LOT better year two.

And we will have seven years of AWESOME in November. Perhaps we will celebrate by picking up my husband’s socks. Or having him JUST wear a sock. Probably the latter.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

63 thoughts to “The First Year Of Marriage Sucks. You’re Welcome.”

  1. Totally agree that being engaged sucks. I was so happy the first couple of months we were married in part because I felt like I had my LIFE back. No one tells you how much time wedding planning takes, or how stressful it is. It was still the best party I’ll ever throw, though.

    For us, the first year reality hit when we combined our finances a couple months after the wedding. (We lived together before we got married, so I’d already become acquainted with the sock path and had resigned myself to it.) Money was tough for us, though – we really struggled with reconciling different approaches to budgeting, saving, debt payoff, etc. There were a couple of times that I found myself wondering if I’d made a mistake as we worked our way through that. I think the money issue in particular is something that no one likes to talk about. The sock path is equally problematic for the relationship, but usually some kind soul such as yourself will give an indication that the sock path is on the horizon. No one likes to talk about money though, especially in the context of supposedly blissfully happy newlyweds.

    Congratulations on almost 7 years of awesomeness! We’re coming up on 5 years in October and it’s amazing how quickly it’s gone, and how much BETTER things get every year.

    1. It’s awesome that it keeps getting better, isn’t it?
      And the money thing is hard for lots of couples. We lucked out because Scott is so bad with money that I just do 99% of it. So we can focus our arguments on socks.

  2. OMG Thanks so much for that blog, Our engagement was 4 months and that was 4 months too long for me! I totally agree that the first year is the hardest. It wasn’t until David and I actually acknowledged to eachother that it wasn’t what we expected that it got better. We didn’t live together ahead of time but knew the quirks to look forward to so that didn’t bother me, it was the fact that I didn’t have anywhere to go if i wanted to, no “my house” to go to because my house was also HIS house. I tried watching TV in a seperate room because I didn’t like his “Mythbusters” and “Modern Marvels” and “Dirty Jobs”. But, now we compromise and watch things together. We make sure we have a datenight, and communicate, communicate, communicate. “I feel disconnected” is the most common complaint, and now we know that when one of us (me) feels that way, all we have to do is talk about our FEELINGS and it gets better. Thanks again for writing about what we are all thinking.

    1. I loved the line about what helped y’all was acknowledging that it wasn’t what you expected. That’s why I hate the notion of the “honeymoon period” — i feel like it give a false perspective.

  3. I thought the first year after marriage was ok – but we’re both pretty lazy so there wasn’t a lot to fight over. But now that we’ve got a kid and the work MUST be done promptly? The first year after baby has been rough for us. Not “I’m going to leave you” rough but “Why can’t you just put the condiments back in the fridge so I can feed our kid without our food spoiling?” rough.

    Can you believe we’re already talking about having another one?

    Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow.

    1. The new baby is tough, too. For us, Scott was working 60-80 hours/week so we didn’t have time to argue.
      The second one is tough but in different ways. Less anxiety or arguing over parenting styles. But even LESS downtime… Still totally worth it 😀

  4. Being engaged was lovely — my parents were evil, but it made us closer that way! And I used to plan events for a living, so no biggie there. The first year after getting married was lovely. The next six years were delightful. And then — the baby arrived!!! That’s when the poop hit the fan. Or the floor. Or really anywhere the dirty diaper went that year. Once we made it through that, things were fine, until I became pregnant again. I’m a crappy pregnant girl. Now that we’ve made it through the second first year post-baby, I think we’re good. That only took ten years… 😉 Happy Lucky Seven!

    1. I definitely can understand the preggo/baby time suckage.
      (Reason #25 that we don’t want another pregnant alex or an infant.)

      And I love the line “my parents were evil” HEH!

  5. Thank you!

    In 3 months and 2 days Joel and I will be married. Yikes! I had no idea how hard planning a wedding really is. Anyways, I ‘m totally relating to you on pretty much all counts exept for the first year of marrage part ( check back with me in 1 year 3 months and 2 days). I was feeling really guilty that our planning wasn’t so graceful. Can’t wait for year 2!

  6. Luckily, a friend warned me, ‘you think you know each other, but you expect different things from a husband then a boyfriend.’. And some of those expectations even surprised me. Who knew I thought he’d get handy over night or learn to budget (or care about the budget) or clean a toilet? We had known each other six years and I knew ALL of this.
    Some things you accept, some you change, but I still need my own tooth paste tube. His is all mashed and that’s just wrong.

    1. That is such a great way to put it: different expectations for a husband vs. boyfriend . I actually went through that during the transition from girlfriend to wife. I couldn’t cook and even feminist me thought I’LL BE THE WORST WIFE EVER. Who knew I carried THAT old idea around?

      1. Isn’t it amazing what our minds hold? I continue to be shocked by mine. Sometimes the best we can do is realize the idea is goofy and let it go. My grandma, a lovely wife and momther, couldn’t cook when she was first married. The stories she told of early entertaining. Oh, thank goodness we don’t live then.

  7. Our engagement was nine months long and not too terrible, thanks to small and simple wedding plans. Though I did cry in a Hobby Lobby at one point, and we did argue with some family over libations.
    Several of our years have been harder than the first, but harder on us than on our relationship (grad school, jobs, house building…), which has gotten better. Like wine?

    1. I agree that our outside circumstances — life’s curveballs — have been tougher over the years. But we have, like y’all, grown closer and grown more understanding of each other so they seem easier to field (this baseball analogue is going AWESOME)

    1. You are NOT abnormal. (Well you might be abnormal but not in a bad way.) I think that we are all different — not all marriages last. (And aren’t you and the sportsman past five years already?)

  8. And tomorrow, I’ll celebrate my 10 YEAR anniversary. And now, when I think back to year one, I think how SWEET it was. We will still trying to show our “good sides.” Over the years, there will be good times, bad times, loving times, frustrating times, but I feel like as long as you both stay committed to staying together, you make it work. And you’re right, it IS work. But it’s worth it if you’re with your best friend.

  9. Paying for my own wedding was a great way to make sure no one else in the family had a say on my decisions for my own wedding day. As if wedding details aren’t stressful enough, who needs family feud in the midst?

    Yay to nearly seven years and white go-go boots!

  10. Celebrating 10 years in September and can’t wait!! As you know from reading some of my own posts on the subject, we’re very happily married. I don’t remember if our first year was hard, but I DO remember that the first year we lived together was hard. We lived in sin for two years before marriage. And it almost ended us. But thank goodness it didn’t. Because he’s my soul make, my best friend, and everything I want in a partner. Does that mean it’s always coming up roses. LORD NO!! But we get each other, and we know when to lay off (well, he does, I’m not so good at it).

    Happy 7! To many, many more! And please keep regaling us with the humour. Some days I don’t comment for all the laughing I’m doing. But I assure you I’m always reading 🙂

    1. Living together is definitely part of the struggle. I like my SPACE. We decided to move in together a few months before getting married, I vaguely objected but then relented. And after a few months, I think Scott wished that he had AGREED with my objections… But we did get through it!

      Congrats on 10!! And on being happily married.

  11. This is a universal truth.

    And impossible to explain to the newly-engaged.

    My husband and I sat on the couch, my face bearing a look of gravity while my husband spoke in an unusually intense voice to our friends snuggling on the love seat across from us, “Be prepared for the first year to be awful. Just get over that hurdle and you’ll be home free.”

    They, of course, went home and said, “Wow…I wonder if they’re going to make it. We’re NOTHING like them.”

    Until a year later when she’s locked herself in their bathroom sobbing on the phone to me and he’s at our house saying, “What the hell happened to my wife?”

    While we smuggly said, “Yeah…the first year sucks.”

    1. I loved your story. It is hard to convince people… I always say DON’T DO A LONG ENGAGEMENT. And no one listens… story of my life as a mom of a preschooler and an infant too. ugh.

  12. Yay! Hubby and I will celebrate 7 years of marriage at the end of this month, and almost 14 years together! The first year of marriage wasn’t bad because we already had 7 years under our belts, but that first year living together… that was hard. I got pregnant, I was sick, he worked nights and we were broke. But we got through it. We both had our annoying habits (still do), but we learned to live with them and worked through the hard times together. You’re right – a good marriage does take work, but it’s sooo worth it!

    1. It is DEFINITELY worth it. Scott and I only had seven MONTHS under our belt when we got engaged and another seven when we got married… so that may skew our perspective a bit.

  13. Last week, you were the wedding maven. Now you’re telling everyone it’s so hard?

    Yes, it is. That first year is a total bitch. I do understand why so many people don’t make it.

    However, have you ever heard of the “Seven Year Itch?”

    Don’t blame me, I just report.

    1. Hard and WONDERFUL. (And I was telling them that before — it’s a wonder anyone asks me to be a bridesmaid)

      I have heard of the seven year itch — we have a little over five months to go of our seventh year… cross your fingers.

  14. My ex-husband and I didn’t even move in together until 6 months after we got married, when our 1st son was born (college, military housing, etc). Amazingly enough, we made it through the 1st year of hell. If we can do it, anyone can. Year 10 was a different story, 2 days prior to our 10 yr anniversary, I broke down and gave in to his request for a divorce. Sad times.

    As for wedding planning, I will never do it. Everyone in my life knows that if Honey and I got engaged, no one would be the wiser. That’s why friends ask if we’re married yet, not engaged. They know me so well.

    1. Divorce is sad — even if it’s the right thing for the relationship.

      But it’s so good that you found Honey (and that you are NOT planning another wedding — ugh!)

  15. Okay, so I think all women should have to read this before getting married because it’s all so true!

    We are going to be celebrating 11 years this year. I think every year gets a little easier 🙂

  16. Love, love, love the line “he still farts like it will make him popular.”

    Our first year of marriage wasn’t as tough as I expected. The first year after our first child was glorious. The first five months after having our second? Torture. Like I’d-rather-peel-off-my-own-fingernails torture.

    But, things are leveling out now and I’m grateful that we learned how to communicate well early on.

    And early congratulations on your wedding anniversary in November! Will there be cake? 😉

  17. All I’m saying is I distinctly remember jumping up and down on the (double) bed crying one night (toddler preview?) as my poor husband stared in disbelief becuase learning to just sleep together all the damn time was hard in those first few months of marriage. My sage advice to newlyweds: immediately buy the biggest bed you can fit in the bedroom, even if it’s the ONLY thing you can fit in the bedroom.

    The first post honeymoon months (if you haven’t lived together previously for any length of time) of just adjusting to being together ALL the time is a bizarro adjustment – as in, of course i knew i love being with you when I want to relax and have fun and play and cocoon together… but i’m not totally sure how to be with you ALSO when i need to sit on my butt being grumpy about a terrible day at work, when i have a stomach virus and need to spend the weekend in the bathroom, when i’m freakingout on PMS and anxiety and everything is overwhelming, when i just need time to myself??? it takes time and work… for sure!

    Now we’re coming up on #10, and still drive each other crazy (though I try to refrain from tantrums in the bed, we upgraded to Queen)…but we’re crazy in a way that’s familiar and comforting, and happily, still backed up by a whole lot of love.

  18. We’re on 10 years of marriage. Plenty of other years besides the first one can suck, but if both are doing the work to keep it together (frankly one or both not doing the work is usually why it sucks, but if both ARE doing the work then it almost doesn’t seem like work) then it will be fine, I hope.

  19. EVERY lady should read this before getting married, or at least during the 1st year to know that they are not alone. I so agree with you. My husband and I just had 9 years and I feel like we appreciate the little things together so much more now. Partly because we have survived the beginning of parenthood which is hell, but also oh so sweet.

  20. I loved this post. But you know what I thought was harder? The first year of marriage after children. To me, until then, it felt like marriage was just like dating, but with extra benefits. Like joint bank accounts and nicer appliances. But the first year after we had kids was hard. Because all of a sudden it wasn’t just us anymore and I barely even knew who I was, much less him. Things are great now. We’ve got our groove going. But it took awhile to get used to the new identities of being mom and dad, outside of just being us. Great post, Alex! I love the way you can be so funny and serious and insightful all at once. You are awesome.

  21. We’re celebrating 10 years this Fall and each year gets better. I’m trying to see if he’ll let me put our 4 mn wedding video on my blog for our 10 yr anniversary. We were engaged for only 4 months and still had the wedding of our dreams in NYC, so these 2 year engagements are totally not necessary.

    And as for the first year of marriage, we went to Africa together to work for an NGO and lived through extreme conditions in three different countries. So yeah, the first year can be the toughest!

  22. I have been married now for four months, and so far it has been the happiest time of my life. We are one of the few who are truly living the “honeymoon” experience.

    My situation is a little different than most, though. When we met online, my husband and I lived across the planet from each other, me in Canada, him in the UK. His first visit to see me, three months into our (very) long-distance relationship, we knew we were meant to be. Cut to almost two years later, after all the jumping through hoops for immigration to get me to jolly old England, and we really had only spent a total of a few months actually in each others presence before we got married. However, because we spent two years in a relationship where we were so far apart physically, we became extremely close in all other ways. Told each other absolutely everything. And so, when we finally were together permanently, living together and married…well, we already knew each others dirty little secrets. Our equivalents of the sock trail, our annoying habits, what gets on our nerves. And had already pledged to never let things fester, but to always be open and honest. Four months into marriage and seven months into living with one another we have yet to have any issue between us that was either unexpected or that couldn’t be cleared up with a five minute conversation. I realize that seems like no time at all to those of you who have been with your partner for ten years. But if the first year is meant to be the toughest, we are well on our way to one great life together.

    It also helps that we both agreed I was the one to handle the finances and keep us actually able to buy groceries. Gotta love a man who knows his limitations. :o)

  23. Hi I’m 6 weeks into our marrieage and I am soooo miserable. Leading up to the wedding was stress, seems even though it was my day I couldn’t have what I wanted if he didn’t see the logic in it(I know warning), my wedding day was a huge mess with my bridesmaids making the day all about them. Then because I’ve been running around like a fool all the time trying to make it something special, I passed out at the reception and spending our wedding night in the hospital, I was dehydrated and by blood level dropped waaaaayyy too low and to top it off I then find out I was pregnant. That lil boo boo I lost 2 weeks later. Seems like the marriage from hell so far its been just downhill from that day on. I wish I didn’t but I am hoping and working on making things better.but I’m learning that he is not as loving now that we are actually together and hed rather work 24/7 that just be with me. Yikes what have I done!!!!! (Sorry for the length I had to get it out)

  24. Hi, so wow this blog made me feel so much better. I’ve been engaged for the past five months, and every one of those days has been major hell. Woohoo I have a ring on my finger, but now what? My in laws have been horrible throughout the whole process. They are providing the finances for the wedidng so they have taken full control without even consulting my fiance or I. I am either arguing with my fiance or wabout his parents. They want a certtain dj, certain food, and barely ask our opinions. And the final biggest blow of all- they postponed our wedding a month before it was supposed to take place (two weeks from today) without telling us!!! We found out from someone else that our wedding date was taken and we both broke down in depression and fits of anger. His mother and father dislike me because of certain things they overheard me saying out of anger and they refuse to reschedule the wedding date as of yet and want it to be three months from now. I am so embarrassed and depressed that I have been looking forward to a march wedding and now its not happening. I wake up every day miserable angry and sad and I cry at least once a day. I don’t think I can take much more. Thanks for listening.

  25. Wow, reading this blog is like a breath of fresh air. I have been married for 7 months now, and it is nothing like I was expecting. My husband and I got in a fight the other night, and all I could think was, “I don’t care if he leaves. Let this fight go where it will.”
    I knew he was a “perfectionist” before we got married, but I had no idea how far he went with it. If absolutely every detail of his life isn’t perfect, he whines and complains like a spoiled little kid. It is really wearing on me, listening to his constant complaining, about everything, from the city we live in, to our house, to the way our dog looks(!), to the fact that I offered to make everyone Easter dinner instead of driving to his grandparents’ house. This year is just hard. If we weren’t married, I would definitely have ended it by now.
    I hope it gets better, I really do. Sometimes I don’t even like him, and it’s hard to think that he’s the one I’m going to spend my whole life with. Seems daunting at the moment.

    1. That sounds very familiar. We’ve been married 10 months, had a fight last night and I kept thinking the same thing: “I don’t care if he leaves.” We got married after knowing each other only 2 months, we work opposite shifts, he works 1.5 jobs and has started taking a class at the local community college and throw in both being from different cultures. We’ve had mother-in-law drama, cultural differences including the roles of men and women, we sleep apart more than together and sometimes like today when we have a fight, we may not be able to revisit it for 2 days when we see each other again. Challenging is an understatement and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about divorce being easier. It has been fun and rewarding, but no one warned me about the challenges. I expected a honeymoon for the first year and wow was I wrong! I guess I needed a little naivete otherwise we’d have never gotten married! I’m praying we can work through this and I hope you too can!

  26. Thank you for that breath of fresh air. It is comforting to know that “normal” people experience the same marriage headaches that I have in the first year. My husband and I dated for seven years prior to our engagement. We were sixteen. The odds are against us but I know we are both in it for the long haul and the good definitely outweighs the bad.
    I don’t know about a sock trail but I deal with piles of stuff. Piles of paper, piles of laundry, piles of whatever he empties out of his pockets. If that is the worst thing he does then I think we will be okay.
    Thanks again for your wisdom.

  27. OMG! Thanks for this! You know it’s bad when you do a google search, “marriage suck”. I try to convince myself that we did not get married four months ago, it’s all a bad dream. Or, I fantasize about being a widow (can’t confirm if I truly want that or not). The point is that Marriage is the biggest mistake of my life!!! I will be amazed if it turns out to be okay, forget about AMAZING! Nevertheless, I’m glad there is hope.

  28. I’m so glad I read this. I feel so alone. I lie to people all the time when they ask “how’s married life?”. Everyone expects it to be awesome and it sucks! I love him, but boy do we argue. We dated for 10 yrs. Who knew that marriage would create where we are now. Our engagement was tough too, thus why I was so looking forward to marriage. No one tells you the first year of marriage is so hard. Thank you for your honesty!

  29. Thank you for this article. We are about to celebrate our 1 year anniversary in a few short weeks…and I have been having the same “if we are like this in the Honeymoon stage..we are doomed” thoughts. Your article is the first I have read that is telling me to hang in there, it will get better and this is normal. I greatly appreciate it.

    1. Chan…to give you an update (see my post above from SAM on June 2, 2011)…..it HAS gotten better. I always thought the first year would be blissful. It was, but it wasn’t. We celebrated our making it through the first year by going on a cruise. Things have definitely calmed down since. We have gotten to know each other better (we got married after 2 months of knowing each other) and are still sort of “dating”. He is working evenings now instead of nights, so he comes home at night. We used to spend quality time in the evenings before he went to work, but didn’t sleep at night together. Now we don’t have the quality time (except on weekends), but sleep together. An argument can be made either way which is better. I’m liking my free time in the evenings and like that he comes home. I have been off work for almost 2 months now, so we have spent a lot of time together lately. I’m much more comfortable in our relationship so spending all of that time together is of less importance to me now. We’ve also come to some understandings that we didn’t have before. I am American and he is from Africa. There are definitely big cultural differences and we continue to work through them. Definitely hang in there. If you made a commitment, that will get you through it. That’s what has gotten us through it.

  30. Thanks for this. Really, thank you. Tomorrow is one year and…well, I just thought it would be easier. I love him very much, but, it’s still hard.

  31. I am so glad that I read this article and learned from the different life experiences of that responded. It’s been 2 months since i have been married, we had a 4 month engagement, and dated for 8 months before marriage. The wedding was sweet and intimate however, i originally planned to elope until my mom found out. He told her.

    Needless the the biggest issue is that fact that i am come from a very close knit family and overly involved family and he doesn’t. So I feel torn most of the time… balancing my needs, his needs, our marriage, and my family. I work and got to school to full time and so does him. Our schedules are insane… i sleep for fun in spare time and he is the energizer bunny and a perfectionist.

    I personally want to crawl under a large rock and hide and hope that my loved ones and husband forget about me. To further complicate things, we live in my family home, rent free of course, with my bro and his fiance. before the marriage, we all got along.

    Now my husband seems to be tired of my family and the closeness that i have to them… i don’t know what to do about this issue..so i enrolled us in couple’s therapy… i can’t take much more of the arguments between him and i or my family’s expectations. sometimes, i wished my family situation were similar to his, distant. i am glad to learn that things get better with time. i told him i don’t know how much more of this i can i take and have thought of getting a divorce numerous time…i love him and want to make things work… any advice would appreciated.

    1. I certainly don’t have all the answers (I had to tell my husband he was right 3 times last month! haha) but I think you are doing many of the right things. You seem aware of the stressors — y’alls schedules, differences in needs (gogogo vs. rest/sleep), living in a family home with another couple. Those would rock any couple but especially a couple that is just learning to be together.
      I also think it’s very normal to struggle with separating from our family of origin and creating our new family with our spouse. That’s much of what the first year is about.
      I’m so glad that you are asking for help and getting couples therapy.
      My ideas: Are you guys working time in for you to build yourselves as a couple? Are you going on dates? Spending time bonding? Both y’all will have to let go a little of what you’re used to doing (super clean or super naps – haha) to make room for each other. Make sure you are putting your spouse first instead of your family of origin. Saying no is uncomfortable but you’ll have to do it rather than just hiding — although I sometimes want to hide too!
      The best news is that it does get better with practice, determination and help. Forgiving each other every day, and keeping perspective on that your love is more important than a sock on the floor is what we do.
      Thinking about you!

  32. Our first year is awful. We fight all the time and he is constantly in a bad mood because he is not where he wants to be in his career. This leads to bad atmospheres and him pretty much taking everything out on me. I’ve thought about leaving him many times. Almost on a weekly basis. But I love him so I’m hoping things will get better soon.

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