Ahhhhh… the absolute bliss of being a newlywed! Every day is sheer perfection. Life couldn’t be rosier!
I know that the honeymoon will never be over in my marriage! I’m laughing out loud, because—as most newlyweds like myself will attest—the early days of marriage are not always smooth.
As you read, maybe you’ll find yourself commiserating with me, and maybe you’ll just shake your head and laugh. In sharing my laughable journey with you, I hope to help other couples feel not so alone—or at least not altogether “abnormal.” In fact, there’s a comforting, humbling humanness in sharing my personal experiences from the inside out. I can see my new husband rolling his eyes; the changes have been a bit tough on him, too.
As my husband and I near the end of our first three months together, I can tell you that we’ve had our share of newlywed “hiccups.” It’s been a wild and wonderful ride. From the morning after our wedding day—when my husband discovered me sobbing quietly in the front yard for no discernible reason—the unexpected has become our norm.
Although I could feel his confusion and concern, he sat on the bench with me and held me in his arms. There, in the early morning California sunshine, our bond grew stronger as silent tears rolled down my cheeks and onto his skin. I was ready and ever so happy to be his wife, yet the permanence—the fact that I was now married for the rest of my life—was setting in. I was actually married. I was no longer single and free.
What would my life look like now? What would happen to my identity? What would become of my freedom? What would become of the “me” I knew only 24 hours ago? As fragmented phrases sputtered out of my mouth, he stared at me and asked, “And you didn’t realize this before we got married?”
“Yes, of course,” I muttered–and then promptly broke into fresh sobs.
As a stable, educated woman, I couldn’t make sense of my post-wedding-day-blues. My prefrontal cortex was telling me, “Heavens! You’re a psychologist! You’re prepared for this. You know what you’re doing!” My more primitive brain, however, was scared and confused. Fortunately, the combination of my new husband’s embrace and the intoxicating beauty of the summer morning soon left us giggling at my fears.
There are days when I can only describe my new life as “interesting.” Even our perfect European honeymoon was full of glitches. Delayed departures led to missed connections. Missed connections led to a “missing” rental car. Tired bodies led to a chest cold for me and, a few days later, a stomach flu for my sweetheart. Despite the bumps, we joyfully soaked up the sun, sand, and magnificence of the Adriatic. We soaked up love. We soaked up the adventure of exploring each other as husband and wife. We soaked up the wonder of knowing that we were—thankfully—blessed to be one of the fortunate couples who are able to navigate highways and byways without going for each other’s throats.
Being an outgoing soul, I was happy to discover that my husband doesn’t fight about asking for directions. He was all too delighted to let me pop out of the car to get help from a fascinating assortment of folks who seemed to speak every language but English! Our honeymoon taught us that there was no end to what we would continue to learn about each other at every turn. What a challenging and wonderful adventure!
Although I thought we had addressed many of the “big” issues long before our wedding day, I am realizing that “big” issues come up now and again in new and curious ways. From learning how to “help him help his daughter” and how to navigate sensitive family issues with grace, my patience and temperance have grown stronger.
“Little” issues often arise that ask for compromise and thoughtful awareness. From changing dishware to reconfiguring knickknacks to accommodate our new life together, we continue to find that compassion and sensitivity are key. There are times when I wish we were both 21 years of age and starting fresh in life, yet I know that even young adults face many of the same “big” and “little” issues. It’s all part of commingling two lives. It’s all part of learning how to be a couple. It’s all part of learning how to create a new life together. It’s a lot of fun and a wonderful labor of love, but it’s also true that a new marriage takes a great deal of thoughtful effort and work!
Don’t get me wrong. I love and appreciate my husband far more today than the day we were wed. Every day is an adventure into his heart and his mind. Even when he drives me crazy, I can count the many reasons I accepted his offer to unite our lives in marriage.
As a psychologist who specializes in relationship issues, I knew our journey together would never be perfectly smooth because life is never perfectly smooth. My sweetheart is a stubborn, supremely energetic man, and I am a tenacious, passionate woman. Our wonderful energy makes us great playmates, excellent best friends, and the sweetest of lovers. That same energy can lead to frustration as we learn how to navigate married life together.
Picture this: As promised, my sweetheart gave up smoking cigars the day of our wedding, but his playful mind has come up with a new plan. My guy—being a wild and wonderful adventurer—decided a few weeks ago that negotiations were in order. Having heard me voice my fears for his health often enough, he has realized the benefit of not smoking one or two cigars a day. Now, however, he’s decided that a singular cigar per week is fairly inconsequential. Being a wily spirit, my grinning sweetheart barters with me until he hopes I can’t resist.
“Honey,” he says with gleaming brown eyes, “how about this? For every week that I don’t cuss in front of you, I get a cigar. The incentive would be great for me, wouldn’t it?” I shake my head and laugh. You can imagine how this negotiation ended. Compromise. Laugh. Smile. Oh, how I love my sweetheart. Oh, how am I loving this journey into deeper awareness and love.
Change is rarely easy, and when two people are required to change at once, the impacts can be tremendous! As well, the bigger the changes—and the more changes that come at once—the greater the impact to both the mind and the body. Some couples experience few changes surrounding their marriage. Some partners live together for years before tying the knot. In some cases, the move into marriage comes with few shifts.
For many couples, however, the changes can be numerous and far-reaching. So, rather than the “fairy tale” of wedding bliss, most couples experience enough change to make the “honeymoon period” a time of learning how to acknowledge, accommodate, and accept the variety of adjustments that come with being married.
In my case, my sweetheart and I chose not to move in together until just a few months before our wedding. Maybe that was a mistake, and maybe it wasn’t. We’d been around each other long enough and often enough to know each other’s weird habits and little oddities.
Being a woman and a psychologist, I had long ago bared my heart and shared my most secret secrets with him. Being a guy—and a guarded guy at that—it had taken him a bit longer to fully bare his heart and a bit longer than that to share his most private secrets. Still, I understood who I was marrying, and he surely knew the gal who became his bride. I shake my head in wonder: Isn’t it absolutely-stunningly-wildly-fabulously-amazing that two people can find each other in such a big world and vow to create a life together no matter what comes? How incredible is that?
It’s easy to laugh at myself now, for I’m feeling more settled-in every day. Still, there are days that I miss my familiar pre-life-as-a-wife-with-my-husband routine. The landscape of my life is completely different, from the car I drive to the dogs that greet me at the door. Many of my clothes are still packed. Files remain tucked in boxes. Instead of music, the unfamiliar sound of the television often plays in the background. My work schedule has shifted.
My focus on reading and writing has changed. My sweetheart likes to sleep in until after the sun has risen, so even my morning walk routine is different. My friendships are morphing. My priorities have changed. My evening yoga classes have gone by the wayside, for it’s in my hubby’s arms that I want to be once my work day is done. I don’t come home from work to tend to tasks in my home office and pick at a small evening meal. Instead, I rush home to create a special, belly-warming dinner for the love of my life. What’s important is that I realize and acknowledge how many changes—big and small—I am facing.
What’s critical is that I feel caring support from my husband. What is really wonderful is that I have made all of these changes—and so many more—because I wanted to make the changes in order to be my sweetheart’s wife. What’s lovely is that I wouldn’t change a thing. What is really wonderful is that I love being in love with my man. I adore being my husband’s wife.
How can I sum up my first quarter of marriage? Married life is tremendous, but it’s a precious new life that requires communication, patience, and deep respect. The first three months have been all about clearing out the old to make way for a strong, solid foundation that reflects the unique needs of our partnership. Maybe it hasn’t been a time of perfection and movie-style bliss, but it’s been a spectacular period of learning how to better love myself, my partner, and our journey together.
Have I lost my freedom? “Nay,” I say, “I’ve just found a new type of freedom as I walk with my sweetheart by my side.”