While one year of marriage hardly seems like an accomplishment (my grandparents made it to 50, after all!), I do believe that my first 365 days of matrimony have been significant -- at least in terms of what I've learned along the way.
I can't speak for other couples, but I can share my own experiences and what this first year has taught me about my relationship, myself and marriage in general.
First, I've learned that being married is far less stressful than wedding planning -- at least for me. While I absolutely loved planning our wedding (so much so that I even became a wedding planner!), the process of making decisions for this huge event was a little... much at times. I felt so much pressure to make sure every choice was special, personal, and, well, right. Looking back, I've realized that I didn't need to work myself up over things so much and that while I loved all the DIY projects and special touches I worked so hard on, they aren't what made the day as memorable as it was.
Being married, while full of decisions and tasks (because, life), is much more mundane than planning to get married ever was -- and thank goodness for that.
Another key lesson I learned has to do with my perception of marriage and how that's changed. Before I was indeed an ol' married lady, I thought of the institution as the ultimate secure status, the pinnacle of relationship success. While being merely boyfriend and girlfriend was a fragile relationship state (always the chance of breaking up!), being husband and wife was a dignified, solidified existence. I figured I wouldn't ever have another doubting thought about a relationship again once I had a ring on my finger.
Even though I am confident in my marriage, love my husband, and know that he loves me -- and while being married does in many ways feel like the cozy nest I always hoped it would -- there is far more at stake when you're wed than when you're simply dating.
Perhaps because I am anxious and overly worried by nature, rather than feeling carefree, I find myself thinking critically about my choices as a wife -- how my actions affect my husband, how I can communicate better, talk more gently, be the person I want to be. (And I beat myself up more than I ever did while we were dating when I lose my temper or say something I don't really mean.)
I'm not extra hard on myself out of fear of divorce or a worry of disappointing my husband, rather, I now feel a deeper responsibly to just be better. Showing up for my partner, and our marriage, as my best self matters far more now than it ever did before. Since, of course, we're in this for life and all.
Finally, I've learned that while I do feel a sense of responsibility to myself and my husband to continue to be a better person, marriage hasn't really changed our daily lives all that much. We still go out for drinks with friends, watch The Bachelor on Monday nights, spend lazy Saturday mornings in our pajamas, and take turns making each other coffee. Yet, even when we do these everyday things, we do them as husband and wife.
I love being able to call the man I've chosen by his new, shiny title, and likewise being his Mrs. Sometimes, hearing the still new-to-us labels spoken aloud (like, when we introduce each other now as husband and wife) takes me by surprises. In a good way, of course. When I hear those words, I feel grown up in a way I never have before.
I can only hope that, when we're celebrating our own 50th anniversary, I still feel this joy and satisfaction, even after the word "wife" has been uttered my way hundreds of times. As it stands now, I can't imagine ever getting tired of hearing it.
A version of the post originally appeared on Robbins' Brothers Engaged blog