Payton Reed

What I Learned in My First Year of Marriage

Payton Reed
What I Learned in My First Year of Marriage

One Year of Marriage

I seriously can’t believe that this time last year we were returning from our honeymoon. The first year of marriage has been fast, furious, fun, full of failure, far from perfect and freakin’ fantastic all at the same time. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the past 365 days and I thank the good Lord for blessing me with this man of mine.

I have grown more this year than any year of my life and I want to be able to share the ups and the downs with you so that you can learn what to do (and what not to do) from our first year as husband and wife. Before we dive in, and if you like sappy wedding videos (guilty), then take a peek at ours to get you in your feels.

What Worked

Hunter and I haven’t even come close to mastering marriage, but I can say with complete confidence that we have a healthy, loving, fair and honest relationship. Here’s what worked for us this year as we were adjusting to the newness and the changes that marriage brought.

Communicate Often and Freely

With busy schedules and lots of responsibilities and obligations, communication has been key! We are both aware of the other’s weekly commitments well in advance and that has helped minimize conflicts around time and expectations. That is the often part. The freely part mainly comes in when one of us is mad or annoyed at the other. I learned very quickly that the silent treatment is a trick of the enemy! If Hunter does something that hurts my feelings, I tell him. If I am being dramatic or moody, he tells me. It may seem harsh or hard to do at first but it resolves issues SO much more quickly and doesn’t leave either of us simmering in our feelings to boil over on the other later.

Learn Your Partner’s Love Language

Thank Goodness we had a wise marriage counselor who taught us about love languages. I’ll be honest, I thought “love languages” were a load of bull at the beginning, but I PROMISE once you know what your partner’s love language is, it will solve a world of problems and make them feel so special when you strategically speak to or act on the way they feel most loved.

So here’s an example. After taking tests we discovered that Hunter’s love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time, while mine are Gifts and Quality Time. This matters because when we, as humans, try to show love, we typically show it in the way we like to receive it. So I was making homemade gifts for Hunter, buying him his favorite foods at the store, ordering him bad @$$ and thoughtful birthday presents and things like that. Those are all ways that I like to be loved, so I thought he would feel loved that way too. Well, Hunter wasn’t feeling it because his number one love language is Acts of Service. So, now I have learned that I should cook him a homemade dinner instead of try to take him out, or call out his flash cards instead of buying him a new medical school book. These tiny tweaks make all the difference. If you want to learn more about the love languages, try this book!

Create a Hobby or Shared Activity Together

Hunter and I could not be more opposite when it comes to how we spend our time. I’m into writing and creating, he’s into science and medicine. When I have a break, I want to watch Netflix and chill out while he wants to be super productive or read a book. Since we were long distance for the majority of our dating relationship, we didn’t have a lot of down time together because our trips to see each other were brief and very planned out. When we got married it was hard to figure out how we could both spend our free time doing things we each enjoyed while still being together.

The one area where we overlapped was being active and working out. Now we try to plan to go to the gym together whenever our schedules allow and it is something fun that we can talk about and enjoy together! I would encourage you to find something like this with your spouse. Maybe it is going to the movies, starting a Netflix show together, cooking dinner together, doing the same bible study, playing tennis or working in the yard. Whatever it is, I think it is important to have “your thing” together that feels special and fun to do with each other! We have added “Walking Nala” to our list of favorite shared activities too, it can literally be the tiniest thing!

Don’t Take Things Too Seriously

I am messy. Like really messy. (read: 4 -5 pieces of clothing on the floor at any given time, shoes all over the den, purses hung from door handles, Beautycounter boxes stacked in the corner, you get the picture.) Hunter is a neat freak. To give you an idea of how neat he likes things, last time I finished vacuuming, he got the vacuum cleaner back out and went behind me because I didn’t “get the corners good enough” SMH. If Hunter got seriously mad at me every time I left my purse, gym bag and lunch box on the counter and my clothes on the bathroom floor then we would be in a fight constantly. But since we have learned to laugh it off and make a lighthearted joke about it, it is no big deal. It also makes me want to be neater because he is nice about my mess! Make sure that you aren’t letting huge glaring issues slide, but don’t fuss over spilled milk, so to speak.

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What Didn’t Work

Having Separate Bank Accounts

We just recently resolved this issue. Not knowing exactly what the other was spending resulted in going over our budget, disagreeing on what money should be spent on and not being able to prepare for things we need to save for. Once we got the Mint app we were able to see what our daily spending is, talk about our expenditures and see where we needed to improve.

Trying to Play Housewife

Okay let me explain here. And this is totally honest. The first month or two of our marriage was so stressful for me. Not because of anything Hunter was doing, but because of the pressure I put on myself. I was trying so hard to be the “perfect” wife. I wanted dinner to be ready and the house to be clean when Hunter got home. I wanted to do all the grocery shopping, take care of the dog, go to the gym, not bring any work home with me and then still have enough energy to want to be playful and cute by the end of the night, if you catch my drift. I thought I had to do all of these things to be a good wife, because that is what society tells us. I actually brought myself to tears one day cooking dinner because I thought to myself, “is this what being a wife is supposed to be like?”

When I talked to Hunter about how I felt my entire perspective shifted. I realized that I had this world view of a perfect wife that I was trying to live up to. But guess what? Those things aren’t what make a good wife. It was after reading scripture and thinking about my role as a wife that I realized I was missing the mark. It’s not these actions and expectations that make me a good wife, at least not in God’s eyes. When I started focusing on being gentle, loving, kind and supportive instead of busy, perfect, strained and stretched-thin, I felt a huge sense of relief. I also realized that the things I was doing, like cooking and cleaning, weren’t from a place of love but from a self-serving checklist that made me feel “good” at being a wife. Now, after a few months of working at it, I feel like I have a healthy balance. I am able to do what I can, when I can and do it from a genuine place of wanting to help and support Hunter without stressing myself to the point of a breakdown or demanding too much of myself. This was a super important realization that has totally changed my attitude around the house. Give yourself some grace girl. You CAN do it all, you just can’t do it all in one day. ;)

Having a Queen Size Bed

Seriously. We hated sleeping in the same bed. A queen bed + me + a 6’1, 210 lb man + a 65 pound Goldendoodle = sweaty and horrible sleep. Invest in a king bed and do it asap.

Thinking “Me” Instead of “We”

It is so easy to separate yourself from your marriage. And while you should at times, it can be hard to know the line. I found myself making decisions about my weekend and travel plans, my money and my time without asking Hunter. It took me a few months to get used to consulting another person on big decisions. While I feel really independent and comfortable making my own decisions, it is really important to include Hunter in the conversation. This especially applies to the money part of our marriage. It was honestly hard for me to think of “my” funds as “our” funds because I am on the one earning the money and working at this point. How can he suggest what to spend it on? I quickly changed this mindset when I thought about how I would feel if he told me that “his” money wasn’t “ours” a few years down the road when he is making a doctor-sized salary :) I am learning every day to embrace the “mi casa es su casa” thing.

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Year Two

I am so excited to take on year #2 with a little more confidence and a better understanding of marriage. Do I know it all? Not even close. Am I trying? Every single day! I would love to know if you have tips or stories about marriage and relationships. Drop me an email and I will share your response on IG stories. Here’s to this crazy little thing called love.

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