The First Year and Keeping Love New

27 Apr

“Good-bye!” Said Gandalf to Thorin. “And good-bye to you all, good-bye! Straight through the forest is your way now. Don’t stray off the track! — If you do, it is a thousand to one you will never find it again and never get out of Mirkwood; and then I don’t suppose I, or any one else, will ever see you again.”

“Do we really have to go through?” groaned the hobbit.

“Yes, you do!” said the wizard, “if you want to get to the other side. You must either go through or give up your quest. And I am not going to allow you to back out now, Mr. Baggins. I am ashamed of you for even thinking of it…” he laughed.

I thought it too long since I’ve used a reference from The Hobbit. In this chapter, the stalwart heroes are trudging through Mirkwood, a dark, lifeless forest whose only creek runs black with waters so sweet as to make you forsake your real journey. Before entering the forest, they were stocked with rations and given the advice, “never stray from the path.” To do so, you see, would have them strung up and poisoned by giant spiders. Hobbits and dwarves make a perfect serving size for them. Unfortunately for the adventurers, they aren’t told about the spiders and the probability of being eaten if they step from the track when they have completely exhausted their rations, they are tricked by fiendish wood elves who draw them towards their campfire feast. It’s a great chapter, but let’s move along.

Lately I’ve decided that the Mirkwood experience is one that nearly all newlyweds have to struggle through in the first year of their marriage. You may have heard that the first year is one of the hardest and that’s no lie, though it’s probably not totally true for absolutely everyone. A lot of people have a “honeymoon phase” that I’m not sure we ever had…maybe for a couple weeks, maybe. For the most part we just got steamrolled by life and we’re still trying to inflate our flattened selves. That said, things are still wonderful between us. It’s not easy. It’s damn hard, in fact. We have fights about things that have nothing to do with us and then we have to come back and sort out just why we’re so hurt. What outside source has us frustrated again? There’s not much romance in swallowing your pride and saying, “I screwed up,” but you do it a lot in the first months and at some point, it gets easier not to keep score. You take and give grace at rates of exchange that would amaze our US economists until you just say one day, “put it on my tab.”And if you have an amazing relationship, that’s just a joke.

Truthfully, in our shared life, we’re probably going to come across a lot of Mirkwoods and we may even find ourselves questioning our path like Bilbo saying, “do we really have to go through this? Can’t we just go around?” But as Gandalf wisely points out, going around is the same as giving up. There are lots of things to learn in the dark, when you’re hungry and scared and you have no idea when you’re going to come out the other side. You see people feasting just steps away from your path but you have to remind yourself that straying will have you caught in a web, waiting to be a spider’s lunch. You learn to have faith–impossible faith–that even when you are starving and exhausted, you are as much a wife in the dark as you are in the sunshine with a full stomach. If you can know that, you can get through. If can tell yourself that you are everything you need to be, even when you feel just the opposite, you can do anything.

With all the un-romance that swarms a couple in the first year, let me share something that has to happen: Keeping the love new. One of the most common things that happens to couples in the first year, and every year after, is the discovery of just how monotonous marriage can be. Really, it’s not something to write home about every single day. As you grow accustomed to each other’s schedules, you fall into a routine of only seeing each other for a few hours a day, maybe more, maybe less, and really only being together for a couple days a week. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, making quality time happen is a must in a happy relationship. You have to learn to appreciate each other as much as you can every day and in every little moment you have together, even apart. So! Here are some budget-friendly activities that may help bring back the butterflies:

Do something a little irresponsible together: Maybe not with money, but with food or time or something less important. Maybe you stay up a little later than usual to play a video game or you make brownies together. Maybe you get  a little drunk one night and chase each other around the house. Make some time to forget your worries.

Try something new for both of you: Try a new card game or a new restaurant. If you found an awesome coffee shop during the week, introduce your partner to it. You could go for a walk in the park on a Saturday morning or play HORSE on the basketball courts. Killing time in a new way is still quality time.

Make a new recipe together: Mix up your weekly meals and try a new dish. Maybe take your partner shopping with you and just wing it or plan ahead and bring home the goods. Good food is great for inspiring love.

Volunteer: Hubs and I actually started volunteering together at the Humane Society and I think we both appreciate each other a little more after working together. Having an overflow of your love in the community is good for everyone.

Now go forth and prosper. And remember, don’t stray from the path.

Oh! But before I go, yesterday’s guest post was an awesome success. With twenty-three views, it was the third most popular post in the history of the blog. Which I’m going to assume means you like to have a fresh voice and not that you’re absolutely bored with me, haha. That said, I’m going to be needing some more. Send ’em in! Pretty please?

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One Response to “The First Year and Keeping Love New”

  1. Dori Fraser April 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Best one yet Bryt and when people tell you “You’re just lucky” you can say, “No we work hard and we stayed when we could have walked.” I am proud of both of you. Marriage is hard work but the benefits are worth it!

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