The hubby and I hit a big milestone this last weekend. It was our one year anniversary. Happy Anniversary to Us! Yea! I've been reflecting on the last year, and I can kind of see why they say that the first year is hard. It's full of tough times and adjustments that you may never expect or thought would be so hard to make. We've had our share of those moments, but overall we're still happy together. Some things we've learned over the last year: 1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! This is a skill that too often gets taken for granted. While you may be good at communicating with each other before you tie the knot, it becomes all that much more important after you actually do the deed. Don't take for granted that the other person understands you and knows how you feel or what you think. In some situations, you'll be able to get by with that, but others can cause some real issues if you don't pipe up about what you really think/need/want. Both parties need to take part in communicating to make sure that things are clear and understood. We've come a long way with that one over the last year, but are still working on perfecting it. 2. Learn to compromise. As much as you like having things your way, you will need to make yourself okay with budging from your position. While you may think that your way of doing things is the best way to do them, you have to learn to open your eyes to other possibilities. Even if you still prefer your way after considering your spouse's way you may just have to let sleeping dogs lie sometimes. Choose your battles wisely. Of the two of us, I am the one that has had to work on this one the most, I think. 3. Breathe. You are going to get into arguments. This is inevitable. When it happens, learn to breathe deeply before saying or doing anything. During these arguments you may get thoughts of how much easier it would be if you were independent again. Again, breathe deeply. If necessary, walk away and go take a walk to think about what has happened or what has just been said. Try to remember why you married the person in the first place. (Hopefully, it wasn't because you just thought they were beautiful or perfect. ) Remember that arguments are not necessarily a sign that the marriage isn't worth it--it just means you didn't marry a clone of yourself so you have to deal with differing opinions. I say this more because I have too often heard people talk about how marriage is bliss if you are "right for each other." Bliss it may be at times, but it will still have it's not-so-nice moments. 4. Keep the romance. It's very easy to get into a routine when you live together. Don't think that just because you're no longer just dating that those things don't matter. They do. Don't forget to schedule a little romance in there every now and then to keep things lively. Do something nice for each other and/or surprise each other every now and then (maybe when you think things are getting a little too routine). I have to say that one of my favorite things is when the hubby surprises me with a flower when he comes home. 5. Talk about finances early. However you plan on combining your monies it's better to get that over with in the beginning so you both start off on the same page. It will make money talk down the road that much easier. Even if you hate talking about it (like I do), discuss your finances and any big purchases. We consult with each other about any purchase over $50--hey, he's been a poor starving grad student for a while so $50 is a big deal for us. As for allocating money, we have joint accounts, but then each have a monthly allowance that we can spend on whatever we want with no questions asked. Whatever doesn't get used one month rolls over to the next. It's simple, but it works for us. 6. Don't expect perfection by the year's end. You and your spouse will not have it down pat and all figured out by any set time period. If you haven't figured each other out completely by the year's end don't fret it. You're in this for the long-haul so you have a lifetime together to do that. This is by no means a complete list. I mean, we've only been married a year so I'm sure there are many more things that could be learned by those who have been at it for longer than we have. I know it will be even more complicated when the kids start coming. Still, it's a start.