Most people would say their first year of marriage is the hardest. My mom-in-law once told me that the first 5 years are the hardest but that might just be an adjustment for the Tyson men…lol.

“Most people would say their first year of marriage is the hardest.” That’s what one of my past clients told me when we recently caught up and she was asking me how I was doing and how we couldn’t believe that my one year anniversary was just around the corner. She was kind of taken aback when I told her that this first year has been pretty relaxing and overall a really good year. What we didn’t get into in too much detail, was that the year prior was absolute hell.

Because 80% of my boudoir clients are getting married for the first time, I want to share my story in hopes that you will have an amazing first year too!

Quick background: My husband and I met in high school. Although we had mutual friends and knew of each other, we rarely hung out. And looking back, we were definitely not ready for each other at that time. Thirteen years later, we reconnected on Facebook and got together when I was home visiting family. Because he lived in Virgina and I lived in Boston, we dated long distance for 10 month. It was when he moved to Boston that things really got interesting.

You would think that because we talked every day for 10 months and I spent one week a month with him in person, we knew each other very well. WRONG. No matter how well you think you know someone, when you live with them, you learn a whole lot more about him and about yourself. In fact, there were times where I found myself just staring at him thinking, “Who are you?! This is not the person I know. ” And he may have thought the same of me at times.

I will say this. The year prior to our marriage, we were hit with a lot of triggers for stress. Just after our engagement, there was a period of unemployment, we were planning an out of state wedding, my fiance was in a car accident, his mother was diagnosed with cancer…all this within the first 6 months of our 8 month engagement. It was a lot! And then there’s the issue of communication. I think it’s fair to say that most couples have to learn to communicate but it’s especially hard for two super independent and strong willed 30 something people who are really set in their ways. I used to joke and say that “The only one more stubborn than him, is me.” Probably the reason it works but it doesn’t always make it easy. We hadn’t quite learned yet how to communicate with each other and with all that life was throwing at us, it really exposed that issue and brought it to the surface.

I think our first year has been amazing because we did the hard work the year before our marriage. For better or for worse, I walked down that aisle knowing the good, the bad and the ugly parts of my husband. I will be honest with you that at some point, I did not think we would make it. But I’m glad I saw those parts before we were married. I felt like the decision was still mine. I knew his strengths, his weaknesses and I still chose him. I’m not sure I would have felt the same had we married and then I got to see that other side of us. I would have felt tricked, manipulated, gypped. [And if that’s where you are at in your own relationship, I’m sorry. Just know that it would have happened at some point anyway.] But we chose each other long before we chose each other. I’ve always said “he doesn’t feel like a boyfriend to me, he feels like family.” So, we got help. We found a premarital relationship therapist and we worked on our relationship. We worked hard on our relationship. In fact, we continued to meet with our counselor at least once a month for the next year to check in and keep working on our relationship. We know that our behaviors are learned. We also know that to thrive in this marriage, we must unlearn them. We learned at a very young age how to survive and what was necessary then, may be the very thing that gets in the way of a healthy relationship today.

We both work hard to be better partners and to be emotionally healthy so that we can be a support for one another. It’s not always easy. It’s work. Here are some things I’ve learned about my marriage and I hope they will help yours as well!


Hold on to those “in between” moments. You know the ones; where you are both happy, in love and loving life. Those actually are your “movie moments.” When you’re fighting or feeling discouraged about your relationship, you will need the movie memories to remind you of who you are fighting for.

AAlways say “I love you.”

No one has ever told me they love me more than my husband. He tells me countless times a day and I’ve learned to really appreciate this about him. God forbid anything happen to either of us, we know we will not say “I wish I had said ‘I love you’ more.”

RRegulate your emotions.

Wow, this is a hard one! The way you fight is another learned behavior from a really young age. Arguments are inevitable. It’s not that you fight, it’s how you fight. One of the most difficult but most empowering things I’ve had to learn to accept is that I can only control myself. The old “never go to bed angry” is advice we won’t be taking. Walking away and setting boundaries mid fight is very difficult for us but it’s better than letting the argument escalate to a place where serious emotional damage is done. Regulating your emotions takes practice and emotional reactions are not logical so there’s no point in trying to logically resolve an issue when emotions are high. Sometimes you need space. Don’t let the issue go unresolved but agree to revisit it when you are both calm.


Nothing will destroy a relationship like resentment. And nothing creates resentment like disrespect. Respect is a choice. Make sure you are choosing respect at all times in your relationship.

I I will leave if…

[Let’s make one thing very clear, I don’t believe in ultimatums. This is not about ultimatums; it’s about boundaries.]

A good friend of mine once told me that she and her husband had a list of X, Y and Z things they would not accept in their marriage. It basically says, if one of those things listed is ever done, I have every right to leave you.

I loved this so much that I put this into place in our own marriage!

You see, it’s not intended as a list of threats. It’s a promise of security when things get tough. It’s a promise to him that if things get really difficult between us but that list hasn’t been violated, you can know in your heart that I will stay. And it’s a promise to myself that although things are so bad that I may feel like there is no out, that if shit hits the fan and we are in such a place where we just can’t see straight but the list has not been violated, I stay. I will “put on my big girl panties” [as they say in the south] and I will stay in this relationship and we will work through it to the other side.

AAlways practice patience.

No definition for this one, it just takes practice. Have patience with your husband, yourself and your relationship. While I don’t encourage you to have patience with disrespectful behavior, understand that not all things will be resolved right away. Relationships are complicated. Habits are formed over years and they don’t break overnight. When my husband or I feel down about a disagreement we’ve had, I find it helpful to remember that “It’s ok, we have the rest of our lives to figure this all out.”

G – God.

If nothing else, God is love. While it’s much easier to focus or become fixated on the things we want to change about our husband, focus on the good in him and the love you have for him in your relationship. Love is much quieter than anger, but it is much more powerful. Someone once told me, “you’d be surprised what love can heal.”


Saved the best for last. You must have empathy for your spouse. The more you understand him, the more empathy you can have for him. The more empathy you have, the more patience and love you can muster up when you need it the most. I never feel closer or more in love with my husband than when I have practiced empathy. It’s often needed in times of struggle and it’s the one thing that helps me turn toward him when I really want to turn away from him.

Don’t forget the only person you can change, is yourself. Could you use some inspiration? Click HERE.


This post ended up being much longer than expected but I hope you know you are not alone. Just because our first year of marriage wasn’t a blood-bath doesn’t mean that we haven’t had our year. We just got a jump start on things! And whether you find yourself in the first year of marriage or the first year of your relationship, these challenges are real. They can be extremely difficult and you’ll have to choose love, respect, commitment and empathy regularly. I have no idea what the future brings for us, but what I do know is that we are both willing to work on and fight for our relationship. Remember, the person you are meant to be with will challenge you and push you to grow as a person and that’s not always easy. Thank God that same person is also there to support and love you as well. In celebration of our 1 year anniversary, I welcome you to our wedding vows!

Marriage Vows

 Coleman & Shannon Tyson . May 30, 2014

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap