Looking Back on Our First Year of Marriage

What a wild adventure it has been!
What I Learned from Our First Year of Marriage, a personal essay about the connection of being newly married, starting a new family, and building a new life together.

On Monday, Sean and I celebrated our first year of marriage and I have some feelings about it! Honestly, the first year passed incredibly quickly. So many people told me it would be the hardest year, especially as we figure things out… but that wasn’t really the case. Maybe because our first year of marriage included a global pandemic, my diagnosis with a rare genetic condition, and now us buying a new house together and moving… but I wanted to take some time to ‘put pen to paper’ and consider what this past year has meant for us as a couple.

What I Learned from Our First Year of Marriage

Day-to-day stuff is just so much more fun

There is no one who makes me laugh as much as Sean. There never has been and there probably never will be. But in this first year of marriage, I have discovered just how much more FUN we have together now. Whether it’s taking a break from prepping dinner so we can sing lyrics to WAP to each other or checking out weird old cars on the highway as we drive to the mountains, we are having more fun than ever before.

Connection & Security

Something I didn’t quite realize before our wedding was that I’d feel a shift in how connected I felt to Sean. Ever since we met, we’ve been on very similar wavelengths about topics like how we want to live, the importance of being outdoors, and a general inclination to eschew traditional values and live life on our own terms. But after we got married, I personally felt so much more secure in our relationship — and in a way that I’ve never experienced in any relationship before, even with a family member. For the first time in my life, I’ve savored the feeling of truly unconditional love and it’s been amazing. I now know in every fiber of my being that Sean will always have my back and my best interests at heart. He will always be in my corner, my number one fan, and my cheerleader.

And on the flip side of that, personally I am no longer questioning our relationship. I grew up in an environment that wasn’t always the most stable. I didn’t always know if I’d be home alone for hours at a time or if someone would be there. I made a lot of my own meals, spent a lot of time occupying myself and learning not to ask for too much lest I be considered too needy or sensitive. So now, as a 35 year old woman, being in a relationship where I know nothing will shake us is huge. I no longer wonder if we’ll break up one day, if something I do to anger him or annoy him will mean that we are over. There’s a deep comfort in knowing that we can have an argument and it won’t mean the end of our relationship. Trust me, I am not glibly saying that our relationship will never end and that Sean could leave me at any time — I get that you never totally know 100% that your relationship won’t end. I know this. But at the same time, I feel more at peace than ever before about actually relaxing into a partnership with someone else and truly trusting them.

What I Learned from Our First Year of Marriage, a personal essay about the connection of being newly married, starting a new family, and building a new life together.

Independence is still really important to each of us

I’ve always tried really hard not to be ‘that girl’ who disappears as soon as she enters a relationship. When it comes to friendships, my preference is to have a small group of really close friends who I can trust. So I do try incredibly hard to maintain those relationships, no matter my romantic life. I’ve always been a fiercely independent person and Sean even more so. So now, in our first year of marriage, we’ve explored that more and more. One way is through our new living situation in the mountains. Sean works as a boat mechanic in Seattle and will continue to do so while staying on our sailboat during the week instead of commuting 2 hours each way every day. That means that we will each have at least 4 days way from each other… and we are both so excited! This type of arrangement works well for us. We both value independence immensely and I think our relationship will be even better after this lifestyle shift.

This is my new family

And lastly, I’ve come to realize that by getting married, we have officially formed a new family unto ourselves — and I love it so much. We’re still deciding on the whole kids thing, but for right now having our intimate, silly little family of two is everything I need and want. And as my complicated relationship with my parents ebbs and flows, it helps to know what I have our new family to ground me. And quite honestly, provide a respite from them. I love that we’re now able to make up our own rules — how do we want to spend the holidays… what are our goals and values… who do we want to let into the inner workings of our family and who do we not? There’s so much to consider and I’m so glad that I get to do it with Sean by my side.

Do you have any thoughts or advice for us as we enter into our second year of marriage? I’m all ears — leave a comment or shoot me a message on social media!

Photography by Meghan Klein. See more of our wedding photos and videos here!

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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