Observations from one year of marriage

17 September 2013

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.


Number one:

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!


Number two:

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!

P.P.S. Just a few of our favorite wedding photos by the inimitable Tanja Lippert… I love her.

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September 17, 2013 9:46 am

Happy Anniversary,Emily! I Loved looking at your pics. Y’all make a stunning couple.

September 17, 2013 10:13 am

I’m still drooling over your beautiful wedding photos. Especially the ones on the beach with the pinky sky. So perfect. A note on wedding albums- we ordered ours along with our original photography package and LOVE IT… but I noticed myself keeping it wrapped in the velvet sleeve and tucked in the box for fear of something happening to it. Recently I decided to let it go, we weren’t enjoying it when it was hidden. So when y’all do make that splurge… learn from my mistakes and enjoy your beautiful album by showcasing it somewhere in your home! :)

September 17, 2013 10:14 am

Every year of marriage is a joyful celebration, so excited for your year two, friend!

September 17, 2013 10:47 am

I have been married to my husband for just over 2 years, and like you we had been functioning as a married couple since we fell in love at university (6 years prior to our wedding). I hadn’t expected marriage to feel so very different, just an extension of something and yet, in the imperceptible ways you have described, it does. There was somehow a way in which decisions for our future felt a little hypothetical before our marriage, and yet now they are all beautifully, wonderfully real. Even though I didn’t think it could, our togetherness feels even stronger. It’s so nice to read someone else put that feeling into words.

September 17, 2013 12:54 pm

Love you! And so happy for the two of you! I feel like y’all just tied the knot yesterday! ;)
Most gorgeous bride EVER.

September 17, 2013 1:57 pm

Happy Anniversary!! I’m glad you’ve been touching on this lately because ours is quickly approaching!!! I feel like I still have so much to learn but the journey is the best part. :)

September 17, 2013 2:05 pm

Happy Anniversary!!:)

September 17, 2013 2:10 pm

Happy anniversary, blogging friend :) It’s hard to believe it’s been a year for you already! I remember following all of your planning posts and squealing for delight when I saw the final product in the pages of SW! Being (almost) 2 months in, I love reading two of the lessons you learned. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful SECOND year!!!

September 17, 2013 2:38 pm

Happy Anniversary! When people ask me how married life is I usually reply, “Pretty much the same, but better.” I think it makes a big difference if you lived together before getting married or not as to how much changes after marriage. We bought our house a few months before we tied the knot, so we were living together prior. We are approaching our sixth months of marriage at the beginning of next month! I think the biggest thing that has changed is similar to your Number Two. It does feel more permanent and we are even more comfortable than we were before. P.S. What have you done or are you going to do to display your photos? We got our wedding album with our package and love it but like Victoria above we have left it in the box and sleeve too. Maybe I should get it out now! But I want to actually display photos around the house and was thinking of incorporating them into a gallery wall?

September 17, 2013 8:45 pm

Yup, that cutting and hauling brush will really ground you! So happy to have him! (Both of you, of course…)

September 18, 2013 7:02 am

happiest anniversary!

September 18, 2013 11:27 am

Happy Anniversary! I love looking over these beautiful images again!

September 19, 2013 11:45 am

I can’t beliiieve it’s been a year! Hope you two had a wonderful 1st anniversary!

September 22, 2013 12:41 pm

Happy Anniversary! Our story is very similar to yours. My husband and I dated for over 7 years before we tied the knot, and we’ve been married now for a little over a year. I agree with the two things you’ve learned. Like you, because we had dated for so long, I really thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about him. I was surprised to discover that there were, in fact, many things that I didn’t know about him, as I’m sure he was surprised to learn about me. To be truly known (failures & quirks included) and truly loved is a beautiful thing. To me, it’s been a reflection of God’s love for us and the part of marriage I am most thankful for. :)