Saying I do up there on the altar is the official kick-off to your first year of marriage, and it’s equal parts fantastic (“yes, I’m finally married!”) and terrifying (“holy crap, I’m married!”). No matter how long you’ve been together or what you’ve been through as a couple, things seemingly change the moment you utter those two little words.
Marriage isn’t all heart emojis and romance, and that first year can have quite a learning curve. But as you look back on the last year of your life, there’s a good chance the past year of memories will be some of the greatest of your life.
Here are 15 things you learn throughout the ups, downs, and in-betweens of your magical first year of marriage.
1. Being married is weird
For the first year, it’s not uncommon to stare your partner in the face and exclaim “…we’re MARRIED!” Because let’s face it – being married is one of the most significant experiences in the human existence, and you made it happen. Reveling in that is just par for the course.
2. Being someone’s spouse is weird
You called yourself a girlfriend for ages and now you’re suddenly saddled with a new title: wife. Hearing it is weird. Saying it is weird. And accidentally calling your husband “boyfriend” in public for the hundredth time is just awkward.
3. Being yourself is weird, too
When you’re married, there are no secrets. Your spouse will know your bathroom habits, how often you bite your nails, and how you wear those yoga pants for months without washing them. In fact, your spouse will know – and love! – everything about you, no matter how strange or gross it might be.
4. You’ll come to love all things paper
The first anniversary is considered the “paper anniversary“, so naturally you’ve been looking for that perfect paper gift for the last 364 days. Whether you go for airline tickets, a book of sentimental phrases, or decide to dedicate the day of your anniversary or wedding, your paper gift will always be remembered as the first and a testament to your first year of marriage.
5. The future becomes a lot more real
When you first started dating, you talked wistfully about the big house in the ‘burbs and the minivan full of children. But now the future is closer than ever and you’ll actually have to start talking about when to try for kids and if house hunting makes financial sense.
6. Your wedding won’t stop mattering
Whether you had a big throw down or a simple courthouse ceremony, remembering every second of your big day becomes a priority in the first year of marriage. You’ll show everyone pictures, talk out funny moments at length, and watch the video over and over. And over and over and over.
7. Joint finances are a headache
A joint bank account. Joint checks. Joint credit cards. Married Filing Jointly. Suddenly, all of the things that used to be just yours now include someone else, and getting everything to a perfect equilibrium can be a logistical nightmare.
8. Adulting becomes legit
You could skate by with an apartment and your college beater car as a single person, but now that you’re married, you have to live like it. That means a mortgage and car loans and leases and a whole bunch of other complicated grown up stuff.
9. Doubt is okay
Being married is awesome, but occasional freak-outs still occur. It’s okay to wonder if you made the right decision from time to time, and when you have your first fight over how much house you can afford, it’s normal to think “what the hell am I doing?” Luckily, those moments don’t last long.
10. You’ll step it up…
…in bed, that is. When you’re married, it’s normal to let out those secret fantasies and fetishes that you kept under wraps before. The first year is a great time to experiment, so live it up and enjoy!
11. Routines will intensify
So maybe you frequented the same restaurants or were regulars at the bar around the corner before marriage, but your habits only become more pronounced the longer you’re together. When you send a text that says “dinner?” your partner will know exactly where you have in mind.
12. Your family will grow – for better or for worse
With a marriage comes something else special (or awful, depending on your perspective): more family! Your in-laws will become a big part of your life, and they’ll probably start to annoy you just as much as your own family does.
13. Chores still suck
Squabbling about chores is only natural when you live together. You’ll think you do more, and your spouse will think the same. And as long as you learn to let go of resentments and actually take out the trash from time to time, everything will be fine.
14. Kindness is everything
You’re tired and stressed. He’s tired and stressed. But even when you come home tired and stressed and in a bad mood, a little kindness goes a long way. In marriage, you’re a team, and that means letting the little things go and putting your new spouse first sometimes.
15. Every day is a new adventure
With every single day that passes, you’ll only become a better, stronger couple, ready to take on more of the challenges that make life worth living.