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The Truth About Newlywed Life (Part 1)

After dinner out in the city to celebrate our first anniversary

The first year of marriage was easier than I expected. During our engagement, some people told us that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Thankfully we also heard from other couples that it was a great year. I am so glad to be able to say that while our first year obviously had its challenges, overall it was really good for us as a couple. We didn’t live together until after the wedding, so becoming man and wife and roommates all at once was (is) an adjustment that we are still figuring out. We have your typical roommate/best friend/family disagreements, but have yet to have a major fight. I think being such good friends before we became a couple really helped. We just love “doing life together.” I recognize that as we grow and change, our greatest challenges as a couple probably lie ahead. There’s always the possibility that I could be wrong, and that would be kind of awesome, but usually during the span of a lifetime commitment to each other, you can expect some bumps along the journey.

The “Newlywed Bubble” is necessary. When I first started witnessing people marry themselves off, I when I was about nineteen years old about in Bible college, I couldn’t understand why it seemed that these people had dropped off the face of the earth. I get it now. I swore I would not be that girl who all of a sudden becomes a social snooze once they become a Mrs. But I have to admit, it wasn’t until about six months into marriage that I really started to crave the normalcy of going out on dates with my girl friends and going our separate ways every once in a while. When we do go out with our friends without each other, I miss him and look forward to seeing him when I get home. Those of you who know me well know I am the very definition of a social butterfly. I doubt I will ever become a total homebody, but in this season of my life, I really love spending as much of my weeknight downtime just relaxing at home with my husband.

Marriage isn’t a non-stop sex fest. …much to my dismay 😉 I spent my teen years and first half of my twenties looking forward to finally being able to let loose and finally act on all those years of built-up sexual tension in a socially and religiously approved way. Maybe it is like that for you. If it is, more power to you. I’ve found that sex is just a part of the bigger picture. It is a wonderful thing, but it is part of the rhythm of life and marriage. It is not the be-all and end-all of my marriage. And I think that’s healthy. A well-rounded relationship should include enjoying a multitude of activities together – not just getting naked.

Two becoming one is expensive. Yes, the wedding festivities were pricey, but I don’t think Nick and I were prepared for the financial struggle of our first married year. We both honestly thought I would land a full-time job during my first few months of resuming the job hunt. I had leads and interviews, but the elusive full-time job never showed up. Living in the NYC area on just one salary is hard. Halfway through the year, we had to leave the apartment in Hoboken Nick had lived in for the past three years because we couldn’t afford to stay there on just his salary and still pay down our debt. It was heartbreaking. We created so many memories from when we were dating in that apartment, and Nick had hosted countless parties. People have encouraged me by saying, “Isn’t that what the first year of marriage is supposed to be like? Living in tight quarters in a crappy apartment, learning to love each other?” So maybe years from now, we’ll look back and smile on our time spent in the Heights.

Marriage isn’t magical. Parts of the wedding day felt somewhat like that (as I hoped they would), but while I have no doubt that marriage has changed me, I am still the same person. Does that make sense? I hope I am a slightly better version of myself because of the way Nick challenges me on a daily basis, but I still have the same hopes and fears and joys and dreams that I did before. I am still Erika, even though I’m also Mrs. Lenzi. There is certainly a social shift that occurs – I became aware of it the first time we saw our Hoboken friends after the wedding. We walked into a bar a few days after we had returned from the honeymoon, and a host of our friends greeted us with excited shouts and hugs. “You’re married!” they said, wide-eyed. “You’re a WIFE. How does it feel?” While the label felt strange, like a pair of shoes that still needed to be broken in, I still felt like we were Nick and Erika. We had just committed to being ourselves together for the rest of our lives.

What cliches or myths have you heard about the first year of marriage? If you’re married, what was the easiest or hardest thing about making that transition? What surprised you?

[Click here to read Part 2]

19 comments

  1. I have heard that it’s a lifetime cross-cultural experience… I think I’ve already heard about a few “cultural” differences in the Lenzi couple, especially on vacations. 😉 For the Bergeys, it has to do with home appliances. hehe. I’m gonna share this with Kate!

    • I like the idea of marriage being a lifetime cross-cultural experience. That means you have to continually remain open to new possibilities and experiences and be willing to adjust your expectations. I read a post on “Birthdays” the other day and it is a perfect example of this. Two families combining and two people trying to create their own is definitely challenging, but hopefully with open communication, they can find a balance that works.

  2. Amen to every word you just said. Our 1st year of marriage was amazing, and still is! I was a bit nervous going into marriage having everyone around me saying ‘the 1st year is so hard…blah blah blah.’ Around our one year someone actually said to us [and I quote]: “Wow, you guys look like you actually still love each other. My wife & I hated each other, and it was the hardest year of our lives.” Of course, the only thought I had in my mind at this point was ‘WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU!’ So sad that people feel that way. That being said, the thing that surprised me the most is how easy of a transition it was. I credit that to the many years we dated & awesome premarital counseling we had…and the fact that my husbands pretty darn awesome ;p

    • 🙂 I just love you, Heather! So happy that you are still singin’ your hubbies’ praises! Your wedding day continues to be one of the sweetest I’ve had the privilege of being at (and photographing!!)

    • I love this! The world needs to hear that MARRIAGE DOESN’T SUCK THE FUN OUT OF LIFE. You guys definitely had a firm foundation on which to build a marriage. It also helps that you are both fantastic people 😉

  3. I love this post. It rings true nearly verbatim to our newlywed experience as well. Year one and two were smooth sailing; but then we decided the status quo wasn’t enough and I quit my office job… and then shit got real. Year three was the hardest (in my marriage and possibly my adult life), but the lessons we learned were the most invaluable. We learned how to have nothing but each other. We learned how to laugh through our tears. We learned that lying in bed racked with worry draws you into prayer whether you’re a believer or not. We learned how to trust God and each other with the tender and fragile parts that we dare not ever let anyone else see. We learned how to protect our marriage and our dreams; and most importantly to fight for them. We learned how to be happy with little.

    Now we sit, on the cusp of some big life changes financially and I feel ready. I feel rejuvenated. I feel (dare I say it?) excited.There’s no one in the world I would have rather done this last hard year with, and I won’t ever forget it. Our growth has tangled us up in each other and God in ways that seemed unreachable last year. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; marrying Paul is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.

    Happy belated Anniversary friend! So so happy for you.

    • I absolutely love the way you and Paul love each other – it is such a fantastic endorsement for the institution of marriage. I love that even through the hardest year yet, it drew you closer to God and to each other. That is how things should be. I am excited to see where your next year leads you!

  4. Marriage is a sweet thing and I know you have heard that it can grow stronger over time. After 30 years of being married to my husband I feel this is a true statement. There were times I had doubts as I am sure most couples do but if you invest in the relationship the rewards are great. Learning how to listen and express yourself is very important. Always always take time to catch up with each other even if you have demanding jobs and many children ( I have 4). If your relationship is not strong the children will suffer. There is a reason that God made parenting a two person job. Learn how to forgive and when you have difficult times in your marriage go back to the reasons for your love in the first place. I never thought I could love my husband more but I do and he still does things that touch my heart. Happy for you all and remember that your marriages are worth all that you invest in them ! God Bless

    • Ellen, thanks so much for commenting. It is so encouraging to hear these words from someone who has been married over 30 years! I love you and your heart 🙂

  5. Erika,

    I do think that the first year of marriage is very difficult for many couples primarily because they are letting go of a former life and exchanging it for a new one. Let’s face some people don’t like change! However, you and Nick were able to buck that trend and embrace the change that accompanied the martial journey. You both were very humble in your approach to the marital dance soaking up any wisdom you could find and asking the kind of questions that could prepare you for the awe and sometimes shock of the newlywed life. It takes an honest self-awareness to access the individual change that is needed to live out that new oneness in harmony and love. I applaud you both for your bold approach to change. Leaving the old apartment and moving into the new one was not only a sound financial decision but it showed your commitment to making your new life work.
    As you move forward in the marital dance be ready to embrace the changes that will come in the future. Life happens and we change as a result. As an example Kim has completely changed since Austin was born (for the better). She is not the same woman she was when she walked down the aisle. Her parental instincts have kicked in and her needs as a wife and woman have been shifted as a result of our new addition. I like the new change I see but I have had to re-think my role as a husband. One day I woke up with the revelation that I can’t approach marriage the same way I did two years ago since her needs have changed. It’s been difficult at times but I am slowly learning. I must continue to embrace the change that accompanies the marital journey.
    Keep up the good work. I am so proud of you both. May you continue to bless in your journey and have the type of marriage that others can learn from!

    • Andrew, thank you for your input! Without you and Kim being open with your lives throughout your dating relationship, engagement, and marriage, I wouldn’t nearly have been so excited for or prepared for those things myself. I have no doubt you both have changed and grown for the better now that you have become parents!

      You make a great point about the reason people can have such a difficult year is because they are unwilling to embrace change. I guess I learned at a fairly early age by moving from MD to PA that fighting inevitable change only serves to makes your life miserable. It is self-inflicted punishment. As the years have gone by, more often than not, I find myself craving change (which can sometimes go to an extreme as well). As hard as it was to leave behind the life I built in TN when Nick and I became engaged, I was very open to the idea and excited for the change instead of fighting it, despite my sadness.

      I look forward to the ebb and flow and change that will occur between us as the years pass. One of my favorite things I’ve ever heard about the testament of marriage is when you and Kim told me a few years ago that you love each other more now years into your marriage than you did on your wedding day. Growing in love is a challenging but worthwhile thing.

  6. I married young and it was tough! Being a kid when you get married is usually a bad decision. Im glad we hung in!

  7. I love your bold commitment to writing candidly and freely about life, specifically your life. You have so many endearing qualities and “guts” to just put yourself out there. It’s totally encouraging and relatable.

    Im sure you can recall a few letters of my own that I privately sent to you concerning the tear jerking struggles of my first year in marriage. I could write a book if I were to attempt a response to your questions concerning the myths and surprises of newlywed life. I think for me, plainly put, nothing is as planned. Im a dreamer. A dreamer to the core. I can fascinate over what I imagine will be the perfect union, the perfect outcome…but life has a unique and sly way doing things on it’s own agenda…and Im just grateful to have a team-mate (my hubby) to ride up and down the slopes with in this journey. I try not to focus on “what’s being said” and the “what to do, what not to do’s” of marriage and just find what works for the Ricksters and Myself.

    I love you Mrs. Lenzi. And Im so glad you are still “Erika” because the Erika I fell in love with is rad. xo – me.

  8. Great post! I am a newlywed as well and can totally identify! Especially with the expensive part. Meshing our finances (hard costs and expectations) has definitely been the most challenging for us.

  9. Thank you for this, Erika, & to everyone for the insightful comments. 🙂

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