Jul 26, 2012

Remembering That First Year

My lovely oldest daughter on the day before I was replaced by the new man in her life.

I had a very nice phone conversation with my oldest daughter today. Recently married and relocated, she is currently experiencing the wonder, joys, and self discovery that all of us who have said “I do” experienced that first year of marriage. After I hung up, memories of my own first year of married life flooded my mind. My, what a year of discovery it was.

For instance, I learned very quickly that newlyweds often go through a phase of wanting to be together every available moment, and this seems especially true for wives. Our own first year of marriage found my new bride coming along with me to even the most mundane of errands; trips to the gas station, the bank….even under the car to watch me change the oil. The weekly chore of mowing the lawn also became a moment of togetherness in my new bride’s mind, with her smiling from the porch and holding out a glass of iced tea. When you grow up being a free spirited young man who actually enjoys solitude, this can be major unexpected change. Little did I know that this would be only one of the many adjustments both of us would be making in the years to follow.

I happened to marry a girl from the Rocky Mountain west, to whom our southern culture seemed a bit foreign. Slowly adapting to having iced tea available for nearly every meal was a tough one for her, but not nearly as difficult as the other common practices of her new husband. One example I recall was the first time I announced that a friend and I were going deer hunting the following morning. For the next five minutes I was subjected to an unanticipated display of exasperation from my lovely bride. “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” “How long have you been planning this?” “What am I supposed to do while you’re gone?” “When will you be home?” My answer to this last question was “In the afternoon”, and it brought a totally puzzled and bewildered look to her face. What I had failed to understand was that in Wyoming, going deer hunting often includes pack horses, tents and days spent trekking through the mountains. She thought I was leaving for a week or more. This was one of the many communication obstacles we needed to overcome, and still occasionally do.

For my part, I had to learn the “code” that women often speak and men rarely pick up on. For instance, if you ask a young woman if something is wrong and she says “nothing”, what she really means is, “Something IS wrong, but I don’t know how to explain it to you.” She isn’t meaning to lie; it just happens that “nothing” is the easiest answer for her at the moment. I heard this a few times my first year of marriage, and we worked through most of the “nothings” by our first anniversary. These days, neither one of us have any problem sharing with one another when something is wrong, and thankfully those times are becoming rarer.

All of those adjustments we made early on are what I believe has preserved our marriage. They range from the simplest things, such as what side of the bed we prefer and what foods we like, to the trickier ones having to do with movie rentals and raised toilet seat lids. She overlooks my moodiness and insensitivity and I have learned to like couscous with dinner. More importantly, we both learned how and when to say “I’m sorry”. The give and take we experienced our first year together helped us make it through the much tougher experiences we faced later on.

The best advice I can give my daughter and son in law in this first year of marital discovery would be this; tolerate the differences, be willing to try new things, have a little empathy for each other, and try not to sweat the small stuff.


  1. Oh, Scott, this is the BEST ONE YET!!!! I absolutely loved and laughed at the differences in vision with going deer hunting. You nailed it! This is really beautiful and should be included in every May edition, just before all the June brides say "I do." Bravo, Scott!

    1. I wish I could have shared more, Sarah. I wanted to include one of our earlier "fights" where I wanted to throw something out of anger, and all I could find to throw was a bathrobe. My "aggressive display of anger" only prompted her to laugh, which ended the fight before it ever began in earnest. I'll have to save that story for a later post, I suppose.

  2. Well done! 4 out of 3...added point for succinctness!

    1. Thank you for the kind score, Frank! I thought I faltered a bit at the beginning of the article, but I am happy that I nailed the dismount with my feet firmly planted. (A little nod to the Olympics, there!)