I’m a newlywed, and here’s what I’ve learned 7 months in.

As a newlywed, I think I have an interesting perspective to offer that you’re not going to get from a 20+ year married couple. Everyone (including myself) wants to seek out the people who have been married for dozens of years to try to figure out how the hell they managed to not kill each other over the years. (Seriously, tell me. And don’t just say “LOTS OF LOVE” ya’ll say that.) But, not many newly married people I knew offered advice or talked about their first years of marriage…the struggles, the joys, the weirdness.

Wait, I take that back.

Many newly married folks I knew told me it was “hard”, “very, very, very, very hard” “if you can make it through year one, you can do anything” hard.

Um, thanks?

So right before getting married, this advice, compounded with personal insecurities and fears equated to me feeling like I was about to walk into a level 12 boss-flight with a demogorgon named Marriage. To say I was terrified, or that I had cold feet, or that I nearly exploded out of my dress with a torrent of lava-irrational-fear-diarrhea right before I walked down the aisle would be an understatement.

(Don’t worry the show went on.)

But seriously, there’s so much fear and hurt and toughness associated with marriage that nobody really expounded on the little joys, or discovery’s or awesomeness of being married their first years. (And, believe me, it’s awesome! So, so, so awesome.) I think it’s because newlyweds (me) have no freaking idea if they’re (me) doing it right. And if they are having a hard time, they don’t want to talk about it, because, well, shame. (Newsflash, please talk to someone, there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.) Or, if they are having a great time, they feel guilty for talking about it because they might have a lot of married friends who are struggling, or a lot of single friends who want to be married. Plus, every day is a new day of learning. And nobody who’s actively learning by drinking out of a fire hose thinks that they have any practical advice to give because they’re so busy just trying not to drown.

*Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulpidy, gulps. Gulpen.*

But, that’s the advice I wanted to hear — the real-time news. And I know there are people wondering about it (just like I was) so I am going to give it…fire hose and all:

*clears throat*

So far, to me, the biggest benefit to being married is the constant support and companionship of another person in your life.

Duh. But seriously!

You have a forever built in buddy you can talk to, do things with, and play games with. And if you hold the same view of marriage that I do as a woman of faith, it takes this to the next level. No matter what…your spouse is there. Till death do you part. You made a covenant to each other, under God. That covenant means that you cannot break the promise to honor, love, respect, and cherish. Sure, you’ll mess up, but that just means tomorrow you’ll try again. And again, and again, and again, and again, and again. The day that I got married, is the day that I promised to learn how to love Christian Snell with my whole heart and to be his biggest champion. As he did the same for me. The great thing about this view of marriage is — you have your whole life to learn how to become best friends! If you’re entering into marriage thinking anything about yourself and what you’re going to get out of it, you should probably re-evaluate. 1st tip as a newlywed: Marriage is about giving. Give until it hurts. Invest until you’re spent. Cook when you don’t want to cook. Clean when you don’t want to clean. Talk when you don’t want to talk. Give, give, give. Serve. Serve. Serve. And, luckily, if your spouse has this view, don’t worry about getting too worn out, because you’re going to get a return on that investment 10 fold.

Companionship of your spouse is not overrated. Think of a funny Christmas joke in the shower that has you laughing about reindeer while you suds your hair? Well, now that you’re married you can hop out of the shower, grab a towel, and run to tell your hilarious joke to your husband. He will think the drenched site of you all worked up about a reindeer joke is funnier than your actual joke, but at the end of the day, you’ll both be laughing together-whereas before, you’d be laughing alone. Or you’d have to call a friend, or your mom, or tell your roommate, and at that point, meh. Nobody cares that much about a freaking reindeer. But your husband? Oh, he will most likely laugh his ass off. And then he’ll tell you to get back in the bathroom and stop dripping all over the hardwood floors.

We can all agree that laughing with someone else, someone you love, is always fulfilling. It warms your heart. It makes you feel alive. 2nd tip as a newlywed: if you’re laughing more than you’re crying your first year of marriage, you’re doing a good job. If you’re not laughing, actively seek out things to do and participate in that both make you smile. Try skiing, it’s hilarious. You’ll nearly die many times, but you’ll laugh a ton too. If skiing isn’t your jam, walk around your neighborhood having a serious conversation while talking in ridiculous accents. It cannot be done. You will laugh.

Want to talk about politics, religion, play a card game, or look at beautiful little hidden woodland cabins in Northern California? It won’t take you long to find the other person who lives in your house to see if they want to join in. Sometimes they don’t, but if they do, it’ll be sure to be a good time. Basically, if you have a healthy marriage, each day you’ll both wake up and secretly think to yourselves that you each got the better deal out of the bargain because the person lying in bed next to you is so cool. 3rd tip as a newlywed: Strive for positivity. When you’re struggling as a newlywed with the slug in bed next to you, remember why they’re cool. Focus on the positives.

However, in the same vein, I think that the biggest downfall of being married is the fact that it’s easier to get comfortable with not being uncomfortable because the easier choice is to stay home from life, from your potential, from growth, and simply be comfortable with your forever spouse buddy. 4th tip as a newlywed: If you’re busy looking for a husband or wife because you’re uncomfortable being alone…you should re-evaluate your priorities. Frankly, the way I see it (so far), the biggest downfall of being married is the ease to which you’ll start to rely on the other person and forget that you’re an individual. Yes, you’re a team. In our case, team C-Snell, and we’re awesome… but I’m also just Christi, and he’s also just Christian. And you’re also just Bob, and she’s also just Sally. Not everything has to be all about Bosally. Bosally is sometimes weird.

I am a fiercely independent person. Christian is a fiercely independent person. We didn’t get married that young. I was 25, he was 35. We had solo lives, careers, opportunities, goals and dreams. In the beginning, it’s hard to figure out how to mesh those things together. It hurts. You’ll feel like you’re losing something, even though you’re gaining much more. BUT, if you’re in the relationship that’s right for you, the sacrifice will never be harder than the joy of being together. It’s like they say: when you know, you know.

We knew.

But marriage isn’t an excuse to stop investing into yourself, taking care of yourself, solo learning or individual pursuals. 5th tip as a newlywed: The day you stop investing into yourself, is the first step towards losing yourself. And one day you will wake up and wonder who the hell you are and who the hell you’ve married. I’ve seen this played out time and time again. It’s heart wrenching, it’s sad. But, 7 months in I’d be lying if I didn’t say I can see how it happens.

The other day I found myself at an event without Christian and the feeling of being completely uncomfortable settled over me. At the core of me, I’m an introvert. However, I spent a lot of years getting used to and thriving with the feeling of being uncomfortable in extroverted situations. I was good at it. I was a charming introverted-event-attendee, employee, and friend. If invited to socialize I would almost always sweat bullets while I parked outside your bar, party or house. Once inside, I would pull out all the mingling stops and have a great time. That feeling of miserable uncomfortability drove me to some of my most proud accomplishments, successes and deepest relationships. At some point in your life, you have got to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

But, you can imagine when you’ve spent the last 3 years having a funny, tall, hat-wearing-extroverted-wingman by your side, how easy it is to be crippled by the feeling of not having them there when they’re not around. It’s tough. But, it’s also a gift. And, recently while I was at an event without Christian, I reminded myself how good it is to be alone sometimes, and that I was Christine before I was Christians wife. 6th tip as a newlywed: YOU WERE YOU BEFORE YOU WERE “YOU TWO.”

Luckily for us, our careers allow us ample time to be reminded that we’re OK being alone. Christian works on films all over the country and I occasionally travel with my humanitarian job too. We’re way better together, but we’re just fine as thriving individuals. I love being reminded of this.

In short, your fears about marriage are probably true. It is hard. But, if you both are dedicated, it’s also easier than you think. It’s a wonderful journey. You’ll be just fine. Don’t worry. Just remember to not lose track of yourself along the way.

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