No matter how long you dated before you tied the knot or how many sessions of premarital couples' counseling that you aced, nothing can quite prepare you for the first year of marriage. Even couples who lived together before saying "I do" have to face the challenges of compromise, understanding, and patience. Making it through those first 365 days isn't always easy, but rest assured, you're not the only twosome figuring it out as you go. Here, five couples sum up what their first year of marriage has been like in one all-important word.
Chelsea Wakefield Ramsey & Christopher Ramsey: "New" + "Fun"
Chelsea: "I would say 'new' because everything was a learning experience! I had been by myself for several years so I had to learn to live with someone and include them in all my plans."
Christopher: "I pick 'fun' because I had a new best friend that I could do everything with and I always have someone to talk to."
Brad and Jenn Barlow: "Compromise" + "Integrate"
Brad: "Definitely 'compromise.' I have only shared a living space with roommates in college, and besides a dorm room, I've never had to share a room, much less a bed. Jenn had her own way of doing things, as did I, so we had to learn what we were willing to compromise on (bedroom door open or closed at night, dishes in the sink or on the counter, how clothes are folded/put away) and what things we absolutely could not change. I don't feel like either of us compromised on anything that is truly important to us, but we had to learn how to be a married couple and not just a dating or engaged couple."
Jenn: "I choose 'integrate.' Brad and I are traditional, conservative Catholics, so we didn't live together before we got married. After we got married, we had to figure out how to merge our lives: names on the mortgage, joint bank accounts, furniture ... even the little things like bed pillows and books. I love to purge, and Brad likes to hoard. It was hard for him to let go of some of his 'stuff' and I was perhaps a little forceful in my desire to purge our lives of two of everything. We had to figure out what was worth keeping separate (we actually have separate bank accounts) and what was worth combining (we didn't need eight pillows for our bed)."
Rachel & Josh Chinery: "Secure" + "Cherish"
Rachel: "'Secure' would be the word I would use to describe my first year of marriage. I expected the first year of marriage to be tough because everyone says it will be, but it wasn't. Don't get me wrong there were trials we didn't expect, but Adam never left my side. It took about nine months for me to realize this man wasn't going anywhere. That he meant it when he promised me forever. With that came a sense of security I had never felt, and I am so grateful to have. He stayed when I was being unreasonable and sassy, he fed me when I was hangry, he held me when I cried, made me laugh when I was sad, nursed me back to health when I was sick, and listened when I needed to talk. It was always safe to be who I am with him and I had/have never felt more protected and secure."
Adam: "The word I'd choose to describe my first year of marriage would be 'cherish.' It means to protect and care for someone, to hold something dear, or keep in one's mind. I believe these definitions describe the way I feel about Rachel and how the first year went. Also, the first year involves feeling things out through trial and error. It can be frustrating and overwhelming one day, but worthwhile and fun the next. I cherished the first year of marriage with Rachel and I hope everyone can say the same about their first year, regardless of its ups and downs."
Anna and Randy Quarles: "Cooperation" + "Patience"
Randy: "I would say 'cooperation.' It was difficult going from living a bachelor lifestyle only having to worry about myself, to all of a sudden having to share things and think about someone else other than me. We both had to work on learning how to run a shared household and at making sure that we were both happy."
Anna: "My word would definitely have to be 'patience.' Though I dated my now husband for four years before we married, there were so many things I didn't know about him until we moved in together when we married. I had to get used to his habits (good and bad!) and realize that a lot of things he did were just part of his personality and I had to be patient, instead of getting mad or upset."
Sarah & Muene Mwaniki: "Sequel" + "Genuine"
Munene: "I would say 'sequel' because it was a continuation of our commitment to one another. We built a home together and made plans for our future."
Sarah: "For me, it was 'genuine.' There were many moments of love and affection. Our commitment to one another strengthened through the difficult times and I think we both realized that being partners is both difficult and unbelievably fulfilling."