By Sarah Ruiz
When my husband and I got married in January of 2014, I knew that there would be a lot to learn. As soon as we walked out of that wedding mass we had gone from being in an intercontinental long-distance relationship to being forever roommates. Being married has been the greatest blessing in my life, but it is definitely hard work and always will be. Here are some unexpected things I learned that first year of marriage.
1. Learn how to fight
I don’t remember our first married disagreement, but I’m sure it had to do with either dishes or grocery shopping. Obviously, there have been more serious disagreements than that since we’ve been married, but that first year was all about adjusting to each other. The most important thing that I learned those first twelve months was exactly how to have a disagreement. No matter what we are fighting about, my husband and I always try to keep a cool head, never yell or name call, and always try to attack the problem, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. It is so important to not add hurt to an already emotional situation so you can solve the problem together and move on to fun stuff, like tackling that sink full of dishes together.
2. It’s okay to take a breather
I can’t stand that age-old advice given to all newlyweds, you know the one: never go to bed angry. I get what they’re saying, don’t let conflict build up, but sometimes a little time to cool down will do more to solve an argument than jumping right in. It is okay to tell your spouse that you need time before discussing something. I’m not one of those people who understands their emotions right away, I often need some time to figure out exactly what I am feeling and why I am feeling that way, and that’s okay. I’d rather tackle an argument clear-headed than with raw emotion.
3. Split the housework
I know this one has been said a lot, but it bears repeating. Sharing the housework is no joke. It’s important to figure out, though, which job each of you will do. I prefer organizing, dishes, laundry, and tidying up, while my husband is better at remembering to take out the trash and recycling, mowing the lawn, and doing the floors. These tasks aren’t set in stone, however, and if one of us is having a particularly busy week, the other will step in and do a little more of the work. It is important to take care of each other, not to have one person taking care of everything.
4. Say thank you and offer to help
And not just for the big things! Thank each other for the little things your spouse does every day. Sure, my husband always takes out the trash and it is expected that he will continue to, but I’m sure he still appreciates it when I thank him for it. Thank each other for cooking dinner or doing the dishes. Thank your spouse for going to that party, movie, or event you know they were only going to with you.
Offering help goes hand-in-hand with thanking each other. When I started my teaching job last year, I was so stressed out that I could hardly do anything around the house. My husband was with me through all of the stress and offered to help me in any way he could. Just as important as offering help, is asking for help if you need it. The farther along I’ve gotten in my pregnancy, the less I’ve been able to do. Neither of us are mind-readers, but we are both more than willing to help each other with anything if the other just asks.
5. Be on the same page
You don’t have to agree on everything, but you do have to be on the same page when it comes to important things like money, parenting, and jobs. Be okay with not always having things your way. Talk about changes together before making them. It’s okay to have one spouse be in charge of certain things, like finances, but even if you are the spouse in charge, it’s important to keep your partner in the loop.
6. Pray for (and with) each other
Nothing makes me feel more secure or more loved in my marriage than knowing that my husband is praying for me. “Will you pray for…?” is a common request in our household, and it not only brings us closer to Christ, but closer to each other. Going to Mass together every Sunday, rosaries in the car, or novenas before bed have become important family routines. After all, the point of marriage isn’t superficial emotional happiness; it’s to guide each other to Christ.