Advice for the newlywed

The first year is the hardest, glib bastards now tell me

They say the first year of marriage is the hardest.

Of course, they don’t say this before you get married, but once you’re in the thick of it, all kinds of glib bastards will pipe up with the same phrase: “Well, you know, they say the first year is the hardest!”

No, actually, I didn’t know. And thanks for not telling me, asshat.

Of course, now I find out that there is ample testimony regarding just what an uphill climb the first year is. A quick Googling of “the first year of marriage is the hardest” indicates that there are at least 1,750,000 warnings online alone.

I suppose I could have stumbled on these previously but who goes looking for evidence that they’re walking into a minefield?

I am not a rusher into of things and marriage was no different. I’m not 19 years old. I’m not goofy for gay marriage. I’ve lived a little and loved a lot. In short, I was ready to get married. I knew it would be hard. But holy matrimony, could no one have piped up about just how hard it was going to be?

Apparently it doesn’t matter if you’ve been together for a year or a decade before tying the knot, the first year is a bitch. No matter what your existing relationship is like, there is something that shifts when you say “I do”.

Maybe it’s the formidable thought that the annoying things your partner says or does are going to be repeated til death do you part.

Or maybe it’s just that nothing can possibly prepare you for those tumultuous first 12 months. Regardless, at times it can seem like you’ll never make it to the 13th.

The first year of marriage is like living with a homestay student. There’s someone in your house with whom you have no clue how to communicate.

You think you said, “Honey, have you seen my socks?” when, apparently, what that sentence translates to in her language is: “What have you done with my socks, you thieving sack of goat shit?”

You have to try to learn a whole new vocabulary and hope that your partner picks up a few of your words too. The frustration of not feeling heard only exacerbates matters until civil interaction becomes a thing of the past.

Even the most skilled communicator finds herself forgetting the phrase “Share how that makes you feel,” and substituting it with “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

I learned not to bother looking for advice from friends or family in the first year, either. Remember, these are the same people who knew full well that the first year would be the hardest but waited until it was over to tell me. Clearly, they can’t be trusted.


So instead I turned to the internet for advice. This is a sampling of the kind of sage wisdom people have to offer newlyweds online:

You have to love yourself first. Only then can you truly love your partner.

Yeah. Me, I’m good with —she’s the one driving me up a wall.

Marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100 for both people.

I’m not taking advice from people who think they can rewrite the rules of math.

Marriage is like a boat and you and your partner sit in it, side by side, rowing together.

Yes, go on, get to the part where you want to beat your partner over the head with your oar…

I guess it’s good then that none of my friends gave me advice like that. I find it so hard to find places to bury bodies, living in an apartment as I do.

To be fair, maybe they didn’t offer warnings about the first year of marriage because they just don’t have any helpful advice. Maybe the first year is like growing pains when you’re a kid: your shins are going to hurt and there’s nothing you can do about it, but when the pains stop you’ll be taller.

We’re starting to feel a little taller. Having just celebrated our one-year anniversary we feel a sense of having made it over a hurdle. If we’ve made it this far and managed to keep laughing together in between the bouts of sobbing, that’s got to count for something, right?

And it’s not all bad, by any means. There is still the underlying, unwavering fact that I love this person more than I ever imagined I could.

There is still the bone-deep knowledge that there is no one I would rather have spent this past year with and no one I would rather spend the rest of my years with.

So, maybe it’s okay that no one told us how hard it would be. Maybe then I wouldn’t have done it. And despite all that this past year has brought, I can’t think of anything harder than life without her.

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Love & Sex, Vancouver

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