John and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Sunday (hooray!). One of my September goals was to celebrate in style, and I’d say we succeeded — at least, we celebrated in our style :) We actually hemmed and hawed longer than I would have liked over our plans, but ultimately decided on something fairly simple — a day at Wrightsville Beach, and dinner at Piedmont in Durham.
We also exchanged notes, our nod to the traditional first anniversary gift of paper. (John blew mine out of the water — he somehow found leftover guest book cards from our reception, and filled them out. Made me tear up!) We really wanted to purchase an official wedding album for the occasion, but Tanja’s are $2,500-$3,000, and that’s just not in our budget right now. We decided that instead of comprising on something that’s not heirloom-quality, we’re going to wait it out. Maybe a fabric-bound volume for our cotton anniversary? :)
To switch topics a bit, I started thinking about what I’d learned, or what had changed, in our first year of marriage after reading Madi’s seven things she learned in seven months of marriage. I posed the question to John, too, on one of our nightly neighborhood walks. We came up with two observations, which I thought I’d share with you.
John and I have been together for 8.5 years, so we were a part of each other’s families long before we got married. We grew up in the same town and we spent lots of time at each other’s houses in high school and college. We traveled together, we hung out with each other’s siblings, we not only met the extended families but knew them well. Before our wedding, both of us considered ourselves a part of the other’s family, no question. Yet… one of the only changes we identified post-marriage was that we felt a greater degree of ownership in the other’s family.
A family of birth will always be different than a family you marry into, but we both agreed that we just felt slightly, almost imperceptibly, more a part of the other’s family after our wedding. Just a small example: John said the hours spent cutting and hauling brush at my family’s cottage this summer felt different — because it felt more like his cottage, a place that he felt more responsibility for because it would be a part of the rest of his life.
We treasure each other’s families, and are so happy to have gained parents and siblings-in-love in addition to a spouse on September 15th!
The second change we noticed post-wedding was also subtle. Like I said, we dated for a looong time before we got married, and to be honest, we knew almost that whole time that we would marry each other one day. I would say we largely functioned as a married couple, both practically and emotionally, even in college. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we both realized that after we got married, we felt (slightly, almost imperceptibly) more permanent.
I think the best way to describe it is that we now feel slightly more responsible for each other’s happiness. I know that sounds kind of wacky — like, people should be responsible for their own happiness, and you can’t change someone — but I think this is different. We are more likely now to put the other before ourself. I think we both try to surprise and delight each other more often. We want the other to be happy, because we truly are one, and if the other is having a bad day, or feeling sad, then we both hurt (as cheesy as that sounds). I didn’t expect this, because we already felt like such a solid unit before marriage. But God is so good to have brought us together, and I think we are learning every day what it means to take care of each other… and probably will continue to all the days of our life.
I am so grateful for the ways we’ve grown together over the last eight or so years, and for all the things we’ve learned and will continue to learn by each other’s side. Friends, I would love to know: If you’re married, did you feel like you learned a lot or experienced a ton of changes in your first year of marriage? Or not? How long were you dating before you got married? (I think it makes a big difference — you?)
P.S. I’ve received a few emails over the last twelve months with questions about our wedding, and so I’m planning to answer a couple of the more common ones this week!