Happy Sunday everyone! I wanted to share something a little different with you all as Charlie and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary today! Naturally, I’m reminiscing over our big day a year ago and the amazing year that we’ve spent together as husband and wife, so I thought I would take you guys down memory lane with me.
Our first year of marriage was nothing short of crazy. We were a little unconventional in that the first three months that we were married, we still lived nine hours away from each other while I finished school. Not everyone’s ideal start to a marriage, but I truly believe it made us appreciate each other that much more once we were finally together and able to be newly weds.
The last year has consisted of a graduation, a move across six states, a new job, new positions for both of us in our jobs, another two moves here in PA, and this blogging endeavor! Like I said, crazy year. The year has been overwhelming, exhausting, thrilling, and strengthening. And while, in complete honesty, I hope that year 2 is a little bit calmer for the Hodges family, I have to say that we rocked our first year of marriage. Even in just a year’s time we have grown so much stronger as a couple.
Charlie and I have always told one another that we don’t know how it’s possible that we continue to love each other more and more, but in being married this year, that feeling has grown ten fold. Maybe part of it is that it’s just the two of us in a new place, 500 miles away from home, with new people and new experiences, so at the end of the day, all we have is each other. Granted, I think that’s how marriage is supposed to be even if you just move five miles down the road from where you grew up—but it’s different when you can’t just grab drinks with your BFF one night after work or head over to your parents’ for Sunday lunch.
But here we are building a new life together in every sense of the idea. Uprooting means we have a new home, we have new jobs, we’re making new friends, we’re seeing new places, doing new things, and truly experiencing every aspect of life together that you can possibly experience. If there’s a better way to grow as one, I don’t know what it is. And maybe this sounds scary and overwhelming, but it’s so incredibly rewarding.
So, going back to my point of feeling that our hearts couldn’t possibly hold anymore love for another…love is infinite. Here’s where I start to get sappy on you guys (you had to know it was coming). Just when you think your heart will burst open with love for your significant other, think again. As long as you are growing together in life, the love will grow right along side. And as much as life has brought Charlie and I closer together this last year, I love him more than I did on March 5th, 2016. And trust me when I say that on your wedding day, you’re bursting at the seams with love!
So, here’s what our first year of marriage has taught me. And honestly, I knew most of these things before this past year—and you probably already do to—but putting these things into practice is so incredibly rewarding.
1. Enjoy each other
Yeah okay, duh. This sounds obvious, but do it! What is marriage if it’s not enjoyed? Enjoying your time with each other is the best way to “keep love alive.” I know that Charlie and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship, but something that we talk about is how to continue cultivating that type of passionate, romantic love years from now. I think the simplest way to continue feeling that kind of love is to enjoy each other.
Remember why you fell in love with each other. Go on dates, even if it’s no farther than the couch. Enjoy it. Enjoy eating at a new restaurant, enjoy seeing a new movie, enjoy snuggling with each other, enjoy a lazy Saturday binging on Netflix, enjoy holding hands while you’re riding in the car together, enjoy taking the dog for walks, enjoy teasing each other. These are all things that Charlie and I enjoy together. None of it is ground breaking and most of it is something that we can enjoy on a daily basis. Just remember the things you enjoy together and, well, keep doing them—and aim to always appreciate those things!
2. Use everything as a chance to grow together
THIS. This is probably my biggest takeaway from the last year with Charlie. Absolutely everything you do and every decision you make as a couple should strengthen your relationship. Again, Charlie and I went through a ton of change in our first year of marriage, but it was all an opportunity to become a stronger couple. Making life decisions is an obvious way to grow together. Choosing jobs, housing, and outside relationships are all crucial to the functions of your marriage. Being able to make those choices together will help you grow as a family unit.
There are smaller ways to grow, too. Not every growing opportunity has to be paramount. You can grow as communicators, for example. As typical as it is, Charlie and I are notorious for forgetting what the other person said. Find ways to be better at setting your phone down and listening to the other person’s day or stopping what you’re doing to make a note of the plans the other person made for next week. Those are all ways of growing, too.
3. Support, encourage, and be excited for one another
I’m pretty sure this is another obvious one, but it’s another one that is crucial to be put into practice! I think another really important thing in marriage (any relationship, really), is genuinely wanting the best for the other person. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean what makes them happy. One of the things that I love most about my relationship with Charlie is that we really try to help each other think long term. At times, we’re all unhappy with our job, our financial situation, our diet, you name it. No matter how big or small it is, it’s important to encourage the other person to approach that situation in a way that will offer them the best possible outcome. Sometimes this isn’t the easiest or most immediately gratifying approach, but that’s when support and encouragement are needed most.
On the other hand, recognize when the other person needs support and encouragement simply when things are going well! It’s encouraging to be told that you’re doing a great job at something! I certainly try to, but I hope that I’m as good at this as Charlie is. Charlie always tells me that he is proud of me or excited for me, and it just makes my spirit soar! This blog is a great example of that. This has been such a process for me—it’s been both exciting and scary. I’ve learned a lot but still have a lot to learn. Charlie sees when I am passionate about something and pushes me to do my best at it and tells me how proud he is of me for putting myself out there. Who doesn’t need that kind of support?
4. Appreciate one another
This is something that I really pride Charlie and myself in. I think we do a great job of making sure the other feels appreciated. This is another broad spectrum point, though. Charlie and I tell each other we appreciate things as little as taking Aspen out before bed to things as large as appreciating how well we know each other and when we need a little tough love. Appreciation is a key component to just about any relationship, no matter what type of person you are. Just about everyone needs to know that they are valued. When you don’t, you feel taken advantage of, and that’s no way of feeling loved.
However, this requires delicate balance. Sometimes, if someone says “thank you” too often, it can feel insincere. It takes time and practice to find, not only, the right amount of appreciation to give to your significant other, but also the ways in which to express your appreciation to them.
5. Experience together
I sort of hit on this earlier when I talked about making decisions together as an opportunity to grow as a family. On the flip side, just take in the ordinary days and situations or exciting opportunities together to grow as a loving and adventurous couple! Go to work events with one another and see what the other’s world is all about, go on double dates with your friends for some loving socializing, go on hikes, go to a musical, or just get in the car and pick the first restaurant in the GPS and try it out! Any opportunity that comes your way, find a way to let your partner experience it with you.
Experience both old and new! It’s so exciting to experience new things together. It’s this subtly deep way of connecting with the people in your life. Even in the simplest new experience (lets go with… trying a new type of food, for instance), there is some level of vulnerability. And no matter how vulnerable you are, it’s how connection is cultivated. And new experiences are how memories are made! Experiencing something that isn’t new holds value too, though. I mentioned that it’s important to enjoy each other, and this doesn’t happen without experiencing something!
6. Be partners—in every sense of the word
My last and final take away from this last year is to be partners. There are multiple types of partnerships that should occur in a single relationship. So be partners, yes. But be even stronger partners by being best friends, lovers, supporters, and whatever else you need from your partner and what your partner needs from you.
I won’t drone on about this one because I think that if you have this down, everything I mentioned above will fall right into place.
I’m no relationship expert, y’all. And I also understand that every relationship is different and people all need different things. That’s why they’re called the five love languages. But I lucked the heck out in finding my lover, my soul mate, my very best friend—the person who makes me feel more myself (and loves me for myself!) than I ever have before, the person who knows me sometimes better than I know myself, and the person who makes me feel more loved than I ever imagined possible. (I warned you guys this could get cheesy)! I truly believe that there is another soul in the world that is fit for yours. And while that effortless connection is undeniable, it still needs nurturing. All I can tell you is these are some of the ways that Charlie and I nurture our love and relationship. We have a lot to learn and we will face more challenges together in life, but we’ll continue to learn how to do it side by side and to do it well and with love! (As a total side note, I did tear up more than once while writing this because I’m a big crybaby, as Charlie calls me, hahaha! But as my mom always told me, my heart is connected to my tear ducts!)
Happy first wedding anniversary, my sweet love! I can’t wait for another 60 more with you!
The biggest thanks ever to Silver Feather Studios for our perfect wedding photos! No one else could have captured our day more perfectly! Nor could there ever be a more fun photographer that you just want to be best friends with!
And my favorite thank you always goes to my Momma, who made our beautiful, stunning wedding cake. How cool is that? I mean seriously.