On Sunday, Nate and I celebrated our first anniversary. It was a day I looked forward to from the moment we got engaged. When we would just be “married.” No special attachment, no event looming (except “when are the babies coming” – but that post can wait for another day). We’re no longer technically newly-weds. And I love that.
There is something in our society that makes it socially acceptable – even expected – that a person asks prying questions when someone is only wearing an engagement ring. And when people know you are newly married, they ask “So, how’s married life?” That’s not an easy question to answer.
Married life is great. I love sharing my life with my husband, building a home in our little apartment, setting the boundaries of our new family, and developing our own habits and traditions. But those things are mine, and no one asking that question really wants to know in depth.
On the other hand, being married is hard. Not just hard because we have to navigate the ups and downs of living together, but because it is an all-encompasing shift. I spent most of my college years defining who I was – being independent, separating myself from the family I grew up in, discovering what I truly valued.
When we got married, I often had to remind myself that I was no longer the only one in my circle. I would have to let someone else in. And sometimes I would forget that I should call Nate and tell him that I was going to work late, because he might have dinner ready when I was supposed to get home, or I would forget to express in words, not sighs, that I find dirty socks on the bed to be unacceptable.
But mostly I have to remember that Nate, while now part of my circle and the family we are creating together, can’t know my hopes and dreams unless I tell him. We won’t always agree on what is important, but we need to communicate to even begin the process of deciding what our family values will be.
We’re getting better at navigating marriage, which is what happens when we work at something for over a year (because we started working on our marriage long before we were married). But I’m glad that friends, family and acquaintances – those who knew we were “just married” and those who found out in the course of our conversation – will no longer look at us with that glint in their eye, that little look that says “Oh! You’re so cute, you newlyweds, young and in love. But you don’t know anything yet…you’ll see!”