When do you stop being newlyweds? I've heard a year, two years, five years, even TEN (that definitely seems too long to me!). I still kind of feel like one. It still feels funny saying "my husband" in public, but maybe that would feel less funny if people didn't react to it. I must look too young to have been married for three years. And we waited two years after graduating college to do it! That seems like a pretty normal timeline to me. But normal is in the eyes of the beholder I suppose. I went back and read the anniversary post I wrote last year at this time, where Erik and I were baffled by all the "congratulations on being married" wishes we received. And I said how easy it was to be with your best friend. Well, it is. But I think this year, Erik and I have started to look at the weaknesses in our relationship and address them. Pre-marriage and even at the beginning of your marriage, I think it's easy to tiptoe around the problems that inevitably arise. You think "Ah that's just an annoying thing I have to live with. It's nothing compared to how happy we normally are." And it gets pushed to the back burner. You say "I'm sorry" and move on. That's a part of a relationship, apologizing and forgiving. But I think this has been the first year where Erik and I went further and thought about WHY this miscommunication (because isn't that the cause of so many issues?) happened.
It's been an incredible relief to me to put a microscope on our problems and to vocalize them. I live in my head a lot. I've talked about that in this blog before and how I just innately do that as an introverted, daydreaming, writer type. It's a great thing, but it's also a dangerous thing because I internalize SO much. I replay fights and harsh words a thousand times, I overanalyze a simple off-hand remark, and I forget that the things I can think about for hours sometimes NEVER come out of my mouth. That's really confusing for a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and tends to blurt things out before thinking ;)
So I'm learning to SPEAK my mind. To not absorb problems, but to ask for help when I have one. It's refreshing to be so real and to know that Erik is here for me, WANTING to know my thoughts and feelings. He's a far better listener than I ever game him credit for. So long as you let him know it's listening time anyway haha.
All this to say, I think this past year of our marriage was our best, our most honest, and what I thought was already a strong connection is growing much stronger now. I understand what people mean by saying the first few years or marriage are the hardest, because I'm just now starting to step back and see how we've already grown since our wedding day. I've always liked the marriage analogy of throwing two rocks into a bag and pulling them out years later to see how they've worn on each other, smoothing each other out until they're both polished and better. It's a gradual process and there will be friction, but it's the growing and learning that give you the perfect set of two polished stones.