Adam and I had been married a month when dear friends visited while on a cross-country trip. I have never forgotten how the husband pulled me aside and told me a story from his own first few weeks of marriage.
“I spilled red wine on our brand new white bed sheets,” he recalled. “I was sure she was going to kill me.”
But, he continued, she didn’t. Instead, his wife shrugged, told him they were “just sheets” and immediately began treating them.
“Don’t underestimate the power of forgiveness – especially the first ‘big’ one,” he coached me.
Got it. I kept it in mind that first year of marriage and it hasn’t left me since.
But my friend’s words of wisdom were just one of many I received that first year of marriage. I was lucky that a few close friends were also married and I could turn to them for advice on just about anything – disagreements, sex, laundry tips and recipe suggestions.
But I didn’t just ask them questions. I watched them. How did they respond to this situation? How did they deal with that? These were couples I admired, couples I knew believed marriage to mean the same thing I did – until death do us part – so I trusted them and looked to their example.
Besides learning how to be husband and wife, another major hurdle of our first year was learning how to be homeowners. Just a few weeks before tying the knot, we bought our home. That fall my parents and a family friend drove down to help sand and finish our living room’s wood floors. Friends came over on numerous occasions to help us paint our bedroom, kitchen and living room. The next spring my father-in-law drove over seven hours to help my husband build storage shelves in the basement. And right around the time we celebrated our anniversary my parents reglazed our old windows.
The physical and emotional support we received from friends and family boosted us that first year. They encouraged us, challenged us and labored along side of us, reminding us that we weren’t alone, that they wanted our marriage to succeed and thrive and be so full of love. Without them, it may not have been impossible to do it on our own, but it definitely would have been a lot harder. Thanks to them, I learned a lot about myself, my husband and what it means to be married.
I also learned to not drink red wine in bed.
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