no longer newlyweds: the five best things we learned in our first year of marriage

the wedding may be over & the dreams of your honeymoon may be long gone.  the time has come:  you’re married.  every day.  from now on.  marriage is hard enough that you don’t need to figure it out with your husband or wife all on your own once the honeymoon high is over.  here are a couple of the best tidbits of marital advice we received on our wedding day, plus a couple that we’ve realized on our own along the way – marriage tips to help make your newlywed year of wedded bliss seriously kick ass.the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

one of my favorite momentos of our wedding day is our guestbook.  inspired by pinterest (of course), we had a photo booth station at our reception with 2 chalkboards. 

one chalkboard raised a request on behalf of the bride & groom:

“tell us your secret to a happy & successful marriage!”the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

the other chalkboard was blank, left next to a piece of chalk. 

for real.  both chris & i have never been married before & we were the first to admit that we had no clue how to be married.  we figured we could shamelessly tap into the wisdom of our loved ones to at least give us some guidance & we couldn’t wait to see what they had to say. 
the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

as it turns out, they had a lot to say (especially as the night went on & cocktails were enjoyed…).  once we got our photos back, we loved reading each little note.  some made us laugh, some made us say “aww” & some just made us wonder why the bartenders didn’t cut anyone off (jkjkjk). the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutterthe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutterthe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutterthe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

after one year of marriage, i can’t help but look back on our gorgeous guestbook (seriously, artifact uprising is the best deal out there for DIY wedding albums & photo books) & realize that while i’m no marriage expert yet, much of the advice we received is so spot on. 

the wedding may be over & the dreams of your honeymoon may be long gone.  the time has come:  you’re married.  every day.  from now on.  this realization will hit you like a ton of bricks, but marriage is hard enough that you don’t need to figure it out with your husband or wife all on your own once the honeymoon high is over. 

here are a couple of our favorite marriage tips we received, plus a couple that we’ve realized on our own along the way – tips to make your newlywed year of wedded bliss seriously kick ass:
1.  do stuff together.  be active together.  travel often.  find your thing & do it. the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

like anything else in life, a strong relationship doesn’t just happen.  it takes work.  a lot of it.  i’ve noticed that chris & i thrive most when we spend time together.

we go for a 3-mile walk around the lake near our house in the morning on weekdays before work.  we will talk about everything, we will talk about nothing, & sometimes we don’t even talk at all.  regardless, the combination of fresh air, exercise & 45 minutes of uninterrupted time together sets the tone for a great day. 

he is also my favorite travel buddy.  rather than doing one full-blown honeymoon right after the wedding, chris & i decided to do a couple of minimoons in our first year.  last december we explored seattle.  we went on our annual family trip to hawaii & took a weekend getaway to hotel wailea on maui while we were there.  a few weeks back, we did a long weekend in san francisco.    it’s been a fun way to prolong our honeymoon phase this year & i love seeing the world through chris’ eyes & by his side. 

no matter what we’re doing, going for a walk, traveling & seeing new places together, or just lounging on our sofa watching a packers game or a couple episodes of suits, our relationship is at its best when we have this quality time. 

2. celebrate your traditions.  have a ritual.the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

i’ve said it before & i’ll say it again: some of my favorite time i spend with chris is the time we spend together on sunday nights for our weekly pizza date at red wagon pizza.  it’s time i count on in the back of my mind that keeps my week on track & helps us to get out of the house & spend some time together.  plus, eating really freaking good pizza doesn’t hurt either. 

3.  hang out with other people whose presence you & your hubby mutually enjoy & respect.  double date.  joke around about your ups & downs. 

whether you’re the last of your friends to take the plunge & tie the knot or the first, like chris & i, my biggest advice for newlyweds is to find your marriage tribe – the people who love & care for you both, & who respect the commitment you’ve made to each other.  having a supportive & understanding squad makes a world of difference.  

some of my favorite dates with chris are actually the times when we double date with our other couple friends.  having dinner & drinks with people who can laugh with you about the little arguments you get into when you’re not at your best & offer you their own crazy stories is a refreshing reminder that even our friends who have been together for far longer than we have face their own ups & downs.  

4.  laugh.  lots.  all the time.  it keeps you both young. the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

one of the things i love most about chris is he makes me laugh.  so much.  i love that our wedding photos are full of smiles & laughter because he keeps me laughing every single day.the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter shhh…don’t tell him i told you that.  he doesn’t need to know how funny i actually think he is…a girl’s gotta keep her guy on his toes, after all.

but truly, one of my favorite things about our relationship are all of the inside jokes we have.  we’re probably the only people on the world who still tell #thatswhatshesaid jokes every chance we get & whenever we choose to have children they’re going to be thoroughly embarrassed by all of the puns we exclaim with perfect timing & a twinkle in our eye.  #dadjokes4life

5.  take care of yourself. take care of each other.  letting your partner be your person means allowing yourself to be your partner’s person. the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter the one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

lastly (& most importantly), one of the biggest things i’ve learned this year is how important it is to have a strong relationship with yourself in order to be able to have a strong relationship with another person. 

admittedly, it at first seems counter-intuitive.  shouldn’t your primary focus be how you can be an amazingly supportive partner & live up to your wedding vows every single day?

well, yes. 

but also no.  it’s all about finding a balance. 

i find that as women we so often focus all of our energies relationally, putting our best into supporting the ones we love & putting ourselves on the back burner. (i mean, it’s pretty much the storyline of every episode of what not to wear ever.)

for me, i wanted to cook & clean & have date nights & have girl’s nights & be a kick ass #girlboss in my 9-5 & volunteer & save the world & do everything else a #girlboss should do, too. 

what ended up happening in reality, though, is i spread myself so thin that i couldn’t do any one of these things very effectively & i ultimately was very, very unhappy. 

i came to realize was that i could only offer chris (& all my other loved ones) my best when i was truly happy as an individual, separate to my relationships.  when you don’t love yourself, it’s really hard to fully enjoy your journey in life as someone’s partner.  i’m not proud to admit it, but i became so dissatisfied with how my life was turning out & how i wasn’t effectively meeting any of my goals that i would often fall into a comparison trap & resent other people’s success.  i would easily get so worked up about how dissatisfied i was with how i looked or how my clothes fit that i would avoid doing fun things with chris & would REALLY avoid taking photos with him.

you are human.  you are flawed, but you have to love yourself.  you have to accept yourself.

for me, this meant two things: getting my swagger back by adopting a healthier lifestyle & carving out the time to put energy into my passions (this blog!).  i began to do the bbg guide by kayla itsines & purchased my domain. 

i’m not going to lie, at first it was hard.  it required cutting out some things (weeknight vino wahhh) & reprioritizing others (day-long netflix binges) to have the time to focus on these 2 goals, but i quickly realized that rather than draining my energy, these 2 things gave me life.  i had some pep in my step & a sense of purpose that was completely new territory for me. 

it became easier to focus.  it became easier to be a supportive partner & friend to chris.  & he totally noticed the change too. 

the balance between self & other is the one thing that i absolutely am going to keep focusing on in the next year.  the two relationships are inextricably linked & mutually enable the other to thrive. 

they say that the first year of marriage is the hardest.  if that’s the case, i’m SO excited to see what’s in store for us.  we had a great year & have lots of exciting things in the works for year #2 already.

#happilyeverlarson #larsonsincrimethe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

it’s been so fun sharing our wedding story with you all!  if you’d like to read more about our wedding day, check out the 2 other posts in this series: 

09.12.2015…one year laterthe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

seven ways we threw tradition out the window to do our wedding our waythe one year anniversary: reflections & marriage tips for a kick ass first year via playswellwithbutter

i would LOVE to know – what’s the best relationship advice (marriage or otherwise) that you’ve ever received?  married friends, what are the most important lessons you learned in that important first year?  let me know in the comments below – i would LOVE to chat!

10 Comments

  1. I’ve loved reading your wedding posts!! All of this is so relevant and true for me! I’ve decided that Steve and I need a weekly “ritual” – thanks for the inspiration! 😘

    • thank you, emma! i’m a HUGE fan of rituals – life is short & you have to celebrate it, right? let me know what you & steve come up with!!

  2. “I wanted to cook & clean & have date nights & have girl’s nights & be a kick ass #girlboss in my 9-5 & volunteer & save the world & do everything else a #girlboss should do, too. ” Though I’m not married I feel you on that quote! I heard it gets even harder when you have kids…

    Also I LOVE the chalkboard idea. Might be pinning that to my secret Pinterest board 😉

    • akansha, you know it! finding balance is SO hard, but SO key. the chalkboards were really, really fun – i’m glad you liked our idea! 🙂

  3. All of these are such great advice! I feel like I spread myself too thin sometimes as well. I’m learning to work on it though! I love your guys tradition of pizza night!

  4. Congratulations. And I love that idea of the chalkboard with all that advice – how precious!

  5. I am obsessed with this post so much. I love everything and am stealing this chalkboard idea for sure!!! I’m going to send this advice to Paul. This will help my argument of traveling all the time.

    PS Your dress is GORGEOUS

    • aw camille, you made my day! thank you so much. the chalkboards were SO much fun and really made the greatest guest book. and yes, paul totally needs to be on board with travelling! 🙂

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