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First Anniversary Reflections on Weddings and Marriage

Today is our first anniversary. It’s also 6 years and 2 days since we first started dating. I can’t say it’s been the easiest year, but no year is easy. I’m still glad a year later that we got married and I believe we’ve learned a lot in the whole process too. Being together for 5 years taught us a good deal about relationships, but actually living together brought a whole new set of learning-challenges.

But we’re learning.

This is actually the anniversary of our 2nd wedding. You see, like any good philosopher, Micah believes in putting his principles into practice. He’s the one who formally articulated what we both believed…and after some discussion we figured out what we wanted to do.

You see, we both believe that the state doesn’t really have anything to do with saying what a marriage is and isn’t. Or it shouldn’t. A government, for instance, can’t tell you who any of your other relationships are. It may have a say in who is your guardian, but it can’t tell you who is or isn’t your friend. Or who is or isn’t your girlfriend. Or fiance.

Marriage is really what the two people in it make of it.

What a government needs is a way for couples to register that they’re forming this partnership (or holy covenant–the same thing, except holy–depending on your religious tradition) with each other. Anyway, that’s why we like the idea of civil unions. We like all the rights that come with government “marriage.” We just believe that we could be equally as married if we had a small service with ourselves and/or our families and friends with no license as we could with a proper license.

Ideally, we would have gotten a civil union because we like that it doesn’t use the word marriage. And its name acknowledges what it really is. However we were planning to get married in either Maryland or Delaware and neither of those states offer civil unions. Since the DE clerk of the peace would only perform ceremonies on Wednesdays and we wanted to do it on the anniversary of our relationship (a Thursday…we would have been married that day but it’s less convenient for others) we decided to go to Elkton, MD, who’ll pretty much marry anyone any day. Micah was already a Maryland resident so it was quite easy.

It was rather fun. We wore pretty clothes, just the two of us, repeated after the clerk, and then drove off to continue our final preparations down at the apartment.

On Saturday, we had a wonderful real wedding with our family and friends, officiated by a professor/minister I’d known well at college.

After the reception, we decided to do something simple before going on the honeymoon. So we changed, packed up the car, and went off to Border’s for iced coffee and books, as it’s one of our favorite things to do. Then we had the honeymoon, which I’m going to choose not to remember because I don’t have to.

I wish I could tell you that our first year of marriage has been bunnies, joy, and smoothness. But it hasn’t. And that’s ok. Because life never is bunnies and joy and smoothness, at least not for extended periods. But it’s still good at times.

In fact, when I spoke in the sharing time at church yesterday that we’d been married for a year, I mentioned that it hadn’t been easy the whole way. Afterward, several people thanked me for saying that, because it hadn’t been easy for them either and they thought more people should come out about it.

I’m trying to think of a good way to end this post. I can’t pretend that I have some deep insights into marriage and relationships. Sometimes it seems like I’m being a great wife, sometimes I screw up. Micah’s the same. How ’bout I share the one thing that I’ve learned over and over again this year?

Most of the time, what matters is that it works for you as a couple.

Whether it’s division of labor, division of finance, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, anywhere, what really matters is what works for you. Whatever the end goal is, there’s generally not a moral right or wrong to it (who does the dishes, for instance). What makes the two of you feel like you’re leading a happy and balanced relationship, not bitter towards each other or feeling like you’re doing the lion’s share but happy that the other person is so helpful—that’s what you should work toward. We’re still figuring that out, but I think we’ve got it in a few places.

It may make you feel strange, but if you’re also happy then it’s ok to be strange.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen July 7, 2008 at 11:11 am

Congratulations and Happy Anniversary Mrs. Micah! I appreciate your acknowledgment of the hard work that goes into a partnership and I hope you will continue to share your reflections on your budding marriage. I sort of feel like the point of a wedding is to stand up in front of your family and friends and say “we know it won’t be easy and we are sharing this day with all of you to ask you to be there for us when things are hard” (I hope I can live up to this idea as I just got engaged this weekend!)

Keep up the good work, both in marriage and in your blog, and have a wonderful anniversary.

Foxie July 7, 2008 at 11:36 am

Happy anniversary! I just passed the first year mark not too long ago, and I have to say it feels like quite the achievement. (My husband and I haven’t been together as long as you and yours, though.)

The one thing I tell people is that, no matter how it was before, it really is different. Not exactly in a bad way, just… Different. Or maybe it’s just me. I have no clue. I just know that I like being married and wouldn’t change it for anything. 🙂

Monica July 7, 2008 at 11:51 am

Great post! I agree with you about civil unions. I think the government should get out of the marriage business and either just have civil unions or just allow any two people to register a domestic partnership (these two people could even be, for example, two elderly sisters living together). Then any one who wished to get married could do so under the auspices of whatever church or group they belong to (and that would have no legal standing). I think this is the kind of thing that would be much simpler especially in the face of controversy over same-sex marriage and such.

pam July 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Happy Anniversary!

I think you’re absolutely correct; each couple I know is different and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other… so we need to find our own balance as a couple.

Livingalmostlarge July 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Happy Anniversary!

And I’m a civil union person as well. I also am a firm believer that marriage has nothing to do with the stupid piece of paper.

Kelly from Almost Frugal July 7, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Happy Anniversary! And many more to come.

Heidi July 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Happy Anniversary!

I would do a civil union if we could – I even considered waiting to be wed until our state recognizes same-sex unions.

Marriage scares the crap out of me, but I feel that I’m entering into a union with my eyes wide open (knowing that life is not bunnies and joy and smoothness – even if you’re living it with the one you love), and committing to the commitment. And a heart full of love. That’s the best I can offer.

Congrats on making through the first hard year. They tell me it gets easier (really, I read that all of the time!).

plonkee July 7, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Happy Anniversary. Only another 59 until a telegram from the queen. 🙂

RacerX July 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

There shouldn’t be, but there is a real difference between a living together and a marriage feeling. I guess it is the state asking you to sign contracts…which does seem like forced labor love or…whatever.

The hardest part of being married in the beginning is determining strengths. No one wants to dominate the other (at least I hope so!) so everyone trys a bit of everything. For example I am better at finance issues than my wife. Not a sexist remark at all as she is the one who is handy fixing stuff, painting etc..

It took a few years finding those comfort zones.

The second half of marriage is trying not to let those ingrain too much and expect things. Avoiding the “Its your job” sort of comments are key.

Marriage isnt tough at one part or the other, it is hard all of the time, and frankly some people just shouldnt be married. Others are great at it.

Regardless…be true to yourself first then you family…honesty begins at 1.

Susan July 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I join the chorus of others in wishing you a happy anniversary! 🙂

Marriage is definitely a learning experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a team effort, both putting forth 100, even 110%. But the benefits are worth the work.

Bunnies are highly overrated anyway. 😉

Cath Lawson July 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Hi Mrs M – Congratulations. I’m glad you told it like it is instead of the usual – “it’s been perfect, wonderful etc etc.

Why did you not like your honeymoon? I know you mentioned you didn’t like vacations and I was just wondering if there was a connection.

Alisa July 7, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Happy Anniversary!

Funny about Money July 7, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Congratulations! The first year of marriage is the hardest…even harder than the infamous seventh year. Now that you’ve made it this far, you’re golden!

The Baglady July 8, 2008 at 12:57 am

Great post! The hubby and I will have our first anniversary next month. I think it has been harder for him than it has been for me. One thing that annoys the crap out of him is that he wants everything to be super clean and I don’t care as much. He is also more of a spender than me. I think that time is going super fast and he thinks that it’s going super slow and he says that I feel it’s going fast because I am having fun. He said that this one year feels like 50 years. LOL

Amanda July 8, 2008 at 10:26 am

((hugs)) Happy Anniversary, friend!

You’ve just survived what is sure to be one of the hardest years of your marriage! 🙂

May God bless you two.

deepali July 8, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Congrats! And many thanks for that last part. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. 🙂

fitwallet July 9, 2008 at 7:42 am

Congratulations to you two!

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary for my partner and me, as well–not of our marriage (because we can’t legally get married) but four years since we started dating. It’s crazy to think how much we share in our lives. Some days we spend just about every minute together. Since we share debt too, we decided to buy some tasteful but inexpensive stainless steel bands to commemorate the occasion.

I wish you and Micah all the best. I’ve been lurking here for a while and enjoy your posts and perspective on life. I think we live relatively close too (I’m in the Philly area).

Ms. Penny Pincher July 9, 2008 at 10:10 am

Just wanted to wish you a very happy anniversary. My partner and I have been together for 10 years now and our relationship is stronger than ever. If it was legal here then we would definitely do it 🙂

fathersez July 14, 2008 at 5:26 am

Happy Anniversary.

Yes, nothing is a bed of roses. After 23 years I can say that the bumps may still be there, but somehow they smoothen out.

Here’s to many many more Happy Anniversaries.

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