‘The first year is the hardest’

I love anniversaries. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, anniversaries of significant events. I love it when Facebook tells me ‘7 years ago today you moved to University’ (yes, 7 years this week!). I love reflecting on the changes that have come with time.

Last week, the week of our first wedding anniversary, gave me the chance to do some reflecting. So now we’re one year in, the worst bit is over, or so they say.

But I’d like to suggest that actually, the worst bit was over on 22nd September 2017 at about 4pm. I loved the wedding service, but I was very relieved when it was all done! For me, worst bit was over when the waiting was over. For me, at least, engagement was much harder than marriage.

Sure, when you get married, there’s this other person who is just there all the time. There’s this other person whose habits are even weirder and more random than you ever imagined. There’s this other person who has different expectations and assumptions to you. Living with another person takes some working out, such as, the spending, the saving, the food shop, the amount of time you spend with others, the amount of time you spend alone, the TV schedule, changing the bed sheets, how different towels are used in the house and how often the dish cloth should be bleached. From big things to small ones, marriage is intense, and to begin with it’s quite a learning curve.

But it’s still easier than that waiting. It’s easier than all that wedmin. It’s a lot easier than all those negotiations. It’s easier than the ‘between’ state of engagement, the ‘not yet’ of waiting to be married.

You see, I was more excited about moving in to our house after the wedding than the actual wedding day itself. When we went for our anniversary meal on Saturday, I asked Nathan ‘what was the best bit of the last 12 months for you?’. He said that he likes coming home to find me there, working, cooking or resting. We also talked about our minimoon to Edinburgh, our priesting, our trip to Uganda and the times when people have been to stay. For me, there have been so many highlights of the last year, but I remember the feeling of absolute contentment on our first Saturday morning married. We sat in our dressing gowns, watching TV and drinking coffee. The sun was streaming through the window, and the world looked beautiful. It was nothing special, but the craziness and business of the wedding was over and it was just us. Just relaxing, just being.

Since then, we have certainly had fallouts and tougher times. We’ve both struggled in our own way, and we have both had to learn how to support each other better. We have had mad times, quiet times, busy times and peaceful times. I will never forget someone saying to me, somewhere around the middle of December, ‘Your first Christmas married is an amazing thing, it’s so romantic and lovely. Enjoy it!’. I smiled, and I knew the words were kindly meant, but the truth was that at that point, I’d barely seen him for a fortnight, and it would be 27th December before we’d get any actual time together. But there is a joy in the flexibility of our jobs too. ‘Shall we have lunch together?’ is a regular question asked in our house, because we do get to see each other during the day.

Another good thing about the job is that we understand what each other is going through. Our churches may be very different, but we can still support each other when we’re struggling. Like when there’s a number of funerals that come in all at once, or when a sermon lands flat, or when the boss is away and there’s suddenly decisions to be made. Sometimes I call home in the middle of the day with a question, like, ‘what time do we need to be in school?’ or ‘who did we say was doing tea?’. Nathan answers and briefly fills me in on what’s going on with him and vice versa. I thoroughly enjoy having separate churches, but it’s great to know that whatever is going on, he gets it.

We’ve had a cracking year. So much has happened. First Christmas and Easter ordained, trips to the Dominican Republic, Uganda and Germany, graduation, priesting, Greenbelt, buying a car, driving lessons, driving tests. It’s been far from quiet, but it’s been an adventure, walking together and enjoying each other’s company.

So is the first year the hardest? Well, to my mind, it’s a lot better than being engaged. People see you differently when you’re married and that really helps. But is the first year harder than the rest of married life? Well only time will tell. I’ll update you all on how year 2 goes in twelve months time.

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