Marriage Lessons I’ve Learned

On October 23rd, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary! We spent the weekend exploring a new city, having a great dinner, sipping coffee at a cat cafe and going on a brewery tour. We enjoyed the whole weekend together, reflecting on what this past year has been like for us, what we’ve learned, and where we want to go from here. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Communication is Everything

Ryan and I have very different communication styles. Ryan is generally more pensive and reserved, whereas I am boisterous and eager to engage in conversation. My love language is words of affirmation. Ryan has really struggled with this because words don’t come to him as easily as they do for me. 

To address this, for our anniversary Ryan gave me a notebook. He told me that for the next year, he’s going to write something in it every day and I can look at it whenever I want. Some days he might write pages to me, and other days it will just be a sentence or two. Either way, he’s showing me that he loves me and is working to show me that in my love language.

But it’s not just about words of affirmation. Communication also helps us to understand each other and show each other respect. For example, Ryan and I both have very busy schedules which include night meetings and frequent travel. At first, this was difficult for us because we would “double book” our lives. For example, I’d have a trip to Washington, D.C. scheduled and not to mention it to Ryan, and he’d have a trip to NYC scheduled for the same time and forget to tell me. The end result was that we’d only communicate about our travel the day before we left and then realize no one would be home to feed the cats and take care of the dogs. We’d both be frustrated at each other for the lack of communication and the last minute pet logistics that we suddenly had to figure out. 

Now we’ve gotten into a habit with checking in with each other daily and weekly, and we have a shared calendar. If I need to go to Albany for work, I call Ryan the moment I learn about it to check with him so we can figure out if we need to plan for pet care. Then, I pop it into the calendar. We also use the calendar to book our meetings around the same time so that we have the same nights free to spend together. For example, if someone asks me to meet in the evening next week, I’ll ask Ryan “What nights are you in meetings next week? I’ll schedule mine at the same time.” This way, if Ryan is busy Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I won’t plan to be busy on Wednesday. Instead I’ll book the meeting for Tuesday so that Ryan and I can spend Wednesday together.

The Perfect Partner Complements You

From our first day of marriage to our first anniversary, Ryan and I have found that the way we complement each other strengthens our relationship. On our wedding day, our dog ran away right before the ceremony. We were both heartbroken. For the next four days, we searched for our dog day and night. I ran “Rocky Headquarters” which was at our church where I would answer calls from people who reported sightings of Rocky and coordinate with volunteers who had come to search the neighborhood for our dog. Ryan spent all day searching the streets and going door to door to talk to people in the neighborhood. Thankfully, we found our runaway dog and since then, we’ve only continued to grow and complement each other. While I lose my patience quickly, Ryan is always steady and helps to center me. Likewise, Ryan often loses his motivation and I am able to provide him with the boost he needs to keep going!

Taking Breaks is Key

Throughout our first year of marriage, Ryan and I have taken turns reminding each other to take breaks. We both work long hours and on weekends. It can be easy for us to forget to take time for ourselves. When one of us notices that the other is overworked, we intentionally take breaks together. Whether it’s taking a night to have takeout and watch a movie or taking a mini vacation for a long weekend, breaks help to keep us going individually and keep us connected as a couple. We also take breaks from each other. We both enjoy going out with our friends individually or even just having a quiet night to ourselves. Sometimes time apart brings us closer together.

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.