a love story

A sparkling engagement ring seemingly invites unsolicited advice from co-workers and family alike about the trials and triumphs of a happy marriage.  One of the most common stories is that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but, if you manage to survive, you’re headed for domestic bliss.  The advice of the well-wishers is based on statistics provided by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 20% of married couples divorce within 5 years; 50% of married couples divorce within 20 years.
  • Couples marrying between the ages of 20-24 are 50% more likely to divorce than couples that wait until their late twenties to marry.
  • Couples without a college degree are 20% more likely to divorce within 10 years than a college-educated couple.

It appears the wisest course of action is to get a college degree and marry in your late twenties.  Once married, cross your fingers and hope hope hope that you’re still married in 20 years.

I’m  a newbie to the matrimony game, but my thoughts on the first year are already drastically different from the perception touted by society.  In summary:
Life didn’t change much after the wedding: I was happily in love before the ceremony, and I am happily in love now.  The largest change, perhaps, was the mutual acknowledgement that we are in this marriage for life, and that our marriage contract doesn’t have an escape clause.

The ‘marriage is forever’ mandate offers an incredible degree of security and liberation inside the construct.  A secure marriage encourages both partners to continue growing as individuals, and understands that a marriage evolves as consistently as the individuals within it.  A husband and wife must be active participants in their marriage – they must each grow as individuals while learning and re-learning the details of their partner and their union.

There is an incredible sense of freedom in knowing that you are loved come what may.  Feel free to try new things, change your mind, and pursue your wildest goals – you are securely loved, and your partner will stand by your side come what may.

Jon caught the common cold, and so we spent the majority of our weekend in bed.  We did, however, brave an outing to the apple orchard to make sure we got a pumpkin before the farms sold out.  Not much to write about, but a perfect example of an ordinary weekend inside a happy marriage:ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

35 thoughts on “a love story

  1. I agree with you here. We just celebrated our first anniversary over the weekend, and I too think it has been the best year of our relationship so far (and this is our 11th year together so there are plenty to compare it to!). It’s great to find fun in the most mundane of activities–like going to the grocery store or running errands–but that’s what a good connection allows for. Congratulations to you and your husband–looks like y’all have found the formula for success:)

    • hey jenn! so glad to hear someone has a similar perspective – it’s almost odd how we always hear the negative stories in the press, and those are the ones that people seem to cling to. congratulations on 11 years together, and happy anniversary!

  2. It’s wonderful to hear an experience so different to what society tells us to expect! I’m not married yet, but my guess {and hope!} is that we will be the same as we are now, just secure in the fact that we’ve said our vows before family and God 🙂 Sounds like a lovely weekend.

    • Jenna, that’s exactly why I felt compelled to write this post — I feel like society never hears about the love stories, or the other 50% of couples that make it work. I think if we shared them more often, then perhaps people would enter marriage with a more hopeful and determined outlook from the get-go.

  3. I’m so jealous … of the apple picking trip, it looks wonderful and this is by far my favorite time of the year!

    I couldn’t agree more that marriage is an evolution. And when you have that right person beside you, there is nothing in this world that is going to support any of those statistics that people seem so ready to share. Make the 2nd year better than the first and continue the trend on towards happily ever after 😉

    • Well said, and I couldn’t agree more about making the 2nd year even better. My grandparents were married 53 years, and despite the ups and downs, they did grow happier over a couple as the years passed 🙂

  4. I love this! Although I am not married, I am in a wonderful relationship with someone I know I will be married to one day. & I’ve often thought about our married life and imagine it being just as wonderful (or more wonderful!) than it is now. The thought that this might be naive has also crossed my mind (pretty much based on the same stats you posted at the beginning of this post) but hearing your love story restores my hope that our wonderful relationship can & will continue through marriage 🙂

    • hey christina! if your relationship is anything similar to what i see on your blog, i’m pretty sure you’re headed for domestic bliss filled with lots of happy years together. i think the key thing is laughing together, and you seem to have that on lock 🙂 and yes… 50% of marriages are happy, they are just the ones that no one talks about…:)

  5. i know i am sappy but this brought a tear to my eye. i’m so glad that you two are so happy and i hope so badly that i find someone who makes me feel loved each and every day 🙂

  6. This is a lovely post Jen. Haha… well, my husband and I have university/college degrees and we married in our late 20’s. I guess that means we have a good chance of avoiding marital disharmony? (Well, it’s worked so far, fingers crossed!) Though in saying that, we have had our ups and downs. More to do with external factors than relationship ones, as it’s stressful when you’re tight on money, have health issues and family stressors etc in your first year. Both of us see marriage as a lifetime commitment though. Just like you and your husband, we’re committed to working through issues as it brings strength, passion and huge motivation. I count my blessings every day to be with Aaron. So happy for you and your partner. Can’t wait to see what the next few years bring 🙂 xx

    • I think ups-and-downs are inevitable, and, you know, I’m just lucky that they didn’t occur in the first year. i’m confident that we’ll have them eventually (every relationship does) but I think that it’s part of a relationship, and when you work through things together you begin to think of the relationship more as something that you’re committed to, something that you’re putting your effort into for the long term, instead of something that is more akin to a feeling of love. Does that make sense? External things will happen to each of our relationships, but that’s when we need to sort of change our mindset to put aside the things that matter least and focus on what matters most (even if it’s a struggle). And yes.. I felt a little foolish writing this post without much marriage experience, but I also felt that a different view was needed from the negative ones we’re always hearing 🙂 Longest reply of all time.. sorry!!

  7. Jennifer, this is so lovely! I remember being so afraid to get married (divorce runs in my family like crazy), mostly because everyone put on the Dun-dun-DUN voice when they talked about marriage. How it is so hard, that first year especially. I was so surprised when the exact opposite happened during my first year of marriage. We had a blast (and are still having a blast)! So I wondered if we were doing something wrong. Like, shouldn’t this be more difficult? Shouldn’t we be fighting all the time to find our footing? I thought I was doing it wrong because I hadn’t heard any positive tales of the first year! How sad is that? Thus, I love how you paint that first year of marriage in a positive light. Because that first year can be a challenge but it can also be complete bliss 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your spin on the topic — I was a little worried about trying to debunk some of the popular marriage myths, but it just seems like a necessary task. Why are the happy 50% so silent?

  8. Jen, my face hurts from all the smiling I did while reading your post!! 😉 A beautifully written post about marriage. More people need to read this as I feel exactly the same way. I grew up in a divorced household and for a majority of it, all I heard was that men were bastards who leave women. I told myself from the time I was ten that I was NOT going to end up like my mother.

    When I got married 9 years ago, it was the happiest day of my life (up until that point). The first year of marriage was true bliss. I was married to my soulmate and the one person in all the world who loved me unconditionally. Every day since then has been the happiest day of my life! 🙂

    My mother made a joke once saying I must be lying because, “Otherwise you are living life like they do on television”.

    The truth is that I am married to my soulmate and I love everything about him. He loves me and loves everything about me. We never argue and never find quirky things annoying. We have gone through deaths in the family, loss of jobs, stress, family, friends and anything else that life threw at us. Instead of growing apart, we grew closer together.

    Thank you for showing the world that true love can be bliss and the statistics be damned!

    By the way, loved the apple trip! 🙂

    • Such a touching story — thank you so much for sharing 🙂 You and your husband truly sound like soul mates, and it’s great to hear that marriage can remain happy despite the ups and downs.

  9. Lovely post! Thanks for pointing out that marriage can be fantastic as I more than too often encounter people that don’t believe in marriage. The other day I could clearly hear an (American) neighbour of mine (who thinks nobody else in the block of flats speaks English and thus no one else understands her) loudly shout down skype with her friend, both saying yuck they will never get married, its just a piece of paper and its disgusting. For me its not just a piece of paper as if I weren’t in love and didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone, I wouldnt get married.
    Anyway, I’m so happy for you. And the apples 😉

    • sofia- that story is exactly why i felt so compelled to write this post. people seem very negative about marriage whenever the subject comes up. jon had lunch with some coworkers yesterday, and they were saying that he was almost through the woods with the marriage– which is odd, right? i mean.. shouldn’t the first year be the honeymoon stage?

  10. Such a lovely post! A testament to a rockin marriage AND pictures from the apple orchard! The perfect combination! 😉 We tried to head to the apple orchard this past weekend but were rained out! Such a bummer!
    Totally agree with everything you said about marriage! Marriage is all about constantly placing someone else above yourself. Sure, lovey-dovey feelings are intricately woven into marriage, but I firmly believe that love is a choice and a verb rather than a feeling, and to choose to love someone everyday before you roll out of bed is amazing and tough all at the same time. Marriage definitely rocks. 🙂

    • grace- if i was to add anything else to this post it would have been your words exactly — that love is verb and not a feeling, and that if we commit absolutely, then we can make it work day by day ❤

  11. I love this post! While I’m very single, one day I want to get married and I hope that it won’t end in divorce. My parents are divorced, so I have a good idea of what NOT to do haha. You have some great advice that definitely want to remember!
    Sincerely, Sara

    • aww sara, i’m glad you liked the post, and i’m glad that you’re hopeful about your own marriage. i think the most important thing is to focus on loving as a verb, not a feeling, and try hard to marry someone that makes you laugh 🙂 on a side note, thanks for stopping by my blog — i’m really enjoying yours 🙂

  12. It makes me sad how negative many are about marriage … a lot of my friends included. I have friends who think no marriage will work out – and that just isn’t the case! Our first year of marriage was the best, too, and we didn’t find it hard like they say. I love being married!

  13. This was absolutely inspiring and beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing your story, especially when most tales of love and marriage these days have a shade of negativity. Thank you! Your story gives me hope haha! 🙂

  14. I was at the same orchard last weekend too! It was crazy busy (and slightly terrifying with all the children) but the fall colors were lovely and the apples delicious. Gotta love Minnesota 😀

    And I totally agree … we ALWAYS hear about the 50% of marriages that don’t make it. Maybe we should be talking about the 50% that do ………… !!

    • i’m all for it 🙂 except.. immediately after i wrote this post i felt like it was just a huge brag — look how great my new marriage is!! right? i mean, awful. who does that? but i felt compelled to write the whole thing just because i always hear *such* negative things about marriage in general, and i wanted to offer a different opinion… but it comes across pretty poorly, right?

  15. Our first year of marriage has been awesome as well… we’ve gone through some personal challenges but I think its made us stronger. I have been meaning to write a post about “what has changed most now that we’re married,” because everyone asks, but I think you nailed it when you said you just feel more secure in yourself and in your relationship. All of a sudden were this team recognized by everyone and thats a great feeling. We’re in this together, until the end!

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