When are you no longer considered newlyweds? A year? 2 years? 5 years? How ’bout til death do us part? I want to be a newlywed for forever. Especially after our first year of marriage. Not because it was so blissful and easy and full of eternal happiness. Nope, I want to be considered a newlywed forever because in our first year of marriage, we had a pretty tough go of it. When everyone asked me “Hey Meg, how’s married life?” I responded with a giddy smile and said “It’s just like un-married life, which was pretty dang good!” Which in truth, is not a lie. I just didn’t find it an appropriate time to spill my guts and all the details to that particular person at a baseball game in the 6th inning, with a hotdog and beer in my hand.
Are you worried? Don’t be. Do you feel bad for us? Don’t. Because as I type this (my heart is beating out of my chest) it’s a time for me to truly look back and see that when Drew and I were faced with some of our biggest challenges so far, as newlyweds…we survived, we love each other even more, and we can say without a doubt that we are happy.
Our First Year together started out as any new marriage should…with a GLORIOUS honeymoon in Aruba and Curacao. (Which by the way, anyone watching the Bachelorette? They are headed to Curacao next week!! Emily and I total soul sisters but that’s another post for another time.) When we came home we were buried under beautiful gifts from family and friends and had fun holding stuff up to each other and saying “Look at this!!” “I love this!” “What IS this?” and “I can’t wait for a cookout!”
Then the fall came. My travel for work picked up like none other. Drew’s nursing program got super duper intense. My Uncle Allen was sick and getting worse. And we just weren’t having that “perfect” First Year anymore. When I eventually did come home, I felt pressured to clean, keep up, nit pick and stare at our dismal financial situation. I was frustrated that Drew was still in school with a significant amount left to go. There wasn’t enough time for “team cleaning” (my way of getting the house picked up in record time.) So it fell to one of us which led to a bit of resentment. In one word…it was a time of adjustment. And we weren’t adjusting, at least smoothly.
It got worse…my Uncle Allen passed away right over the holidays. Our first Christmas together as husband and wife and I spent most of it in tears. But this was the moment…through all the pain, through the sadness, through the frustration at our problems at home, that I saw Drew as my husband. He never left my family’s side through the loss of Uncle Allen. He was on our team. He wasn’t going anywhere. While my parents were in the funeral home thanking visitors that came to the service. Drew, my brother Troy and myself were hiding in the back room, eating snacks and playing the ABC Celebrity game. It hit me then, that it will be the three of us from now on. We are the “kids” in the family. Not just Troy and I…but Drew, Troy and I. That was the moment of relief and when the sense of “he’s my rock” settled on me. I don’t have to face these things alone anymore.
And so…the New Year came and went. We’d reached the half way point of our newlywed status. Drew graduated from nursing school!!! Woot woot!!! Annnnd, we had another set back. We’d have to wait another month and a half for him to join the OSU SICU as an RN. I’ll never forgive myself for not being there with him when he got the news. I was traveling for work. And the heartbreak I heard from him coming over the phone was enough to bring me to my knees. I’ve always said I’d move heaven and Earth for Drew. But that was the moment I felt it. I would walk across fire. I would swim across the ocean. I would do anything to fix this. But I couldn’t. Another check mark in our box of “this is gonna hurt, but won’t break you.”
This was my challenge. Our challenge. How to be supportive of each other when we’d have to wait another month and half for us to be a dual income family (something we’d been waiting on for over 2 years!) and start his new job at OSU Med Center. NOT easy. Tensions ran high. Money was low. I cried myself to sleep a couple nights. Thinking…how is this happening?? It’s our First Year!! A new wife should not be crying herself to sleep at night. Drew and I don’t have screaming fights. We disagree. Nit pick. But he never gets irrational. (Me, on the other hand….) We took a walk through the Ravine one day and it all came to a head. I laid out, calmly, the things he does that drive me insane. He actually gave a few back to me. I only cried once on that walk. We regrouped. Beau jumped in the creek. And we emerged hand-in-hand with a new outlook. More acceptance. A plan for adjustment. And most importantly, a brave face. Because in two weeks, he’d take the boards. And he passed with flying colors.
The stress that was put on our marriage in the first year was something I was totally unprepared for. Deaths in our family. Two funerals. Visits down south that never happened. Richard’s heart surgery. Financial trouble. School. Travel. And through it all, Drew and I found each other, and held on tight.
To kick off our second year, we celebrated our first anniversary with the traditional gift of paper. I told Drew that he had to hand-make it and could purchase minimal accessories – this is when I’m sometimes called Bossy. (I crossed my fingers and hoped he’d pull it off.) I think his was better than mine. Drew’s is on the left, mine on the right, and my super cute Toms wedges are on the stairs.
Granted, he cut up my beautiful calendar that I’d made from our wedding photos…but it was the captions he wrote that I loved! Pointing to my wedding gown and writing “Best dressed!” Pointing to himself and writing “This guy loves you more than anything!” When I read everything, I couldn’t stop the tears. (And my makeup was looking supa fly before this.) My gift? I’m embarrassed! It was an idea I stole was inspired by on Pinterest. It lists everything that I love about him starting with the word “HE”. (I did get a few tears out of him too though, so = success!!)
Inside the January portion of his collage was a note to me. He’d planned a surprise dinner date at a BEAUTYfull steak house, Hyde Park. And the following day we were going hiking and canoeing at Hocking Hills. Swoooooon!!! Seriously, I had to re-do my makeup before we left.
When we got married, there were so many beautiful cards and wonderful wishes. But there was something someone said that stuck with me throughout this year. “As long as you can endure the ups and downs equally well, then marriage will be the best friendship, adventure and relationship ever.” I know that this year was not our lowest low. I also know that our wedding day was not our highest high. (Although, dang, it still feels like it!) That in and of itself is part of our adventure. And I can say that we’ve endured them equally well and escaped with minimal cuts and bruises. It may have been a bit bumpy as newlyweds, but we had each other as seat belts…and I’m so thankful for this year. Thank you for reminding me, Betsy. As I flipped through our cards today (yes, I saved them all.) I came across this one note that also made me smile. “This is chapter one in your Book of Life. There will be many more!” How right you are, Darlene.
I look at Drew today and see my soul-mate, my partner, my best friend. And when we return to Aruba or Curacao for our five year, fifteen year or thirty year anniversary and someone asks if we are newlyweds. I will say YES!