Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On our first anniversary

One year ago, on the seventh of December, that guy and I said, “I do”. We got all dressed up, signed some papers, took lots of pictures, danced, ate cake, and started a new life – our life. It was magical, it was a little scary, it was so exciting, and so fun. I actually say all the time that I wish we could do it all over again! Even after all the planning and preparation, it really was one of the most fun days ever. 

This past weekend, we went away to celebrate one year of being married. I still can't decide if it feels like we've been married for a year or if it feels like we just got married a few weeks ago. Either way, we have had a full and rich year, and I have never felt more content with my/our life and filled with hope and anticipation for the future. My husband is the best. I seriously don't know how I got so lucky. He has his flaws, like everyone (including myself), but he has been the leader this year in our little family of being selfless and forgiving. He truly sees and clings to what is good. He makes everything so fun! He loves God passionately and then loves me - so much. I love him so much more than I did a year ago and can't even imagine how our life will be filled with more love and joy, as it will over the next 10, 20, 50 years. 

After one year, I think I can say that I'm starting to find my feet in marriage. This first year married has been so happy, exciting, filled with so many firsts...really, a great, big adventure. We've done so many things in our first year: lots of movie nights (we really love movies), road trips, hikes, never-ending UNO games, intense air-hockey battles, afternoon walks holding hands, cross-continent flights, two [of our own] wedding receptions, concerts, musicals, picnics, random nights away (thanks to winning two radio contests!), dinners at home, dinners out, dinner with friends, walks with our son (Rolo - the basset hound...I really need to feature him more here), impromptu dance parties at home, hide-and-seek with Rolo in our little home, watching thunderstorms, snuggling on the couch while watching The Middle, Saturday morning strolls through local markets, holiday parties in our home, home made pizza nights, etc., etc., and etc. We also have had our share of bumps, miscommunications, and disagreements (often the latter two result in the first one). We have had to learn to calmly and fairly resolve conflict. We have had to learn to truly forgive and let go. When I think of themes to describe our year, I think of: deep love, grace, forgiveness, fun (having fun, as well as, making things light), holding onto the good, and learning. 

Marriage is not for the faint of heart. It is wonderful and amazing and magical, but it is also challenging and pushes you to grow in your character. I made a discovery in this first year about my thinking/beliefs (and I have a feeling I'm not the only one), that I think is the reason why marriage can seem startling. We are fed a lie our entire lives about what marriage should be: a fairytale, a super fun sleepover with your best friend every single day, full of red roses and romance, long walks on the beach holding hands, and dying together, old, in each others' arms. We are told that if the two of you are really meant for each other, everything will align and you will agree on everything and like the same things and travel the world together in complete and utter bliss. He will know what you are thinking and what you want without you saying anything. I think I also even fell into a bit of a romanticized version of conflict. You know in the movies...let's take The Notebook (which I love!), for example...the scene where Noah and Allie finally meet each other again, all grown up and with lots of life experience behind them? The tension has been building between the two of them and Noah takes Allie out on a romantic canoe ride. As they arrive back at the dock and the rain is pouring down on them, Allie finally yells out, "Why didn't you write me?!" She waited to hear from him for many years after their breakup (but her mom had been secretly kidnapping and hiding every letter) and was now angry that she was engaged to someone else as she realizes she still has feelings for Noah. (Don't worry, nothing even remotely similar to this has happened to us. ;) They yell at each other, chase each other down the dock in the pouring rain, and then passionately kiss and all is well again. I think this all occurs within approximately five minutes. 


Now, before you think I'm a total cynic and Debbie-downer, I promise: I'm not. Marriage, to the right person (or if you work hard at), is all of those wonderful things and far more, often times. In all honesty, I have had more moments in this one year of my life than any other, where I wondered how it was possible to feel so happy and loved and in love, and that it could keep growing. But growing individually and as a couple can be challenging. Conflict is not romantic. It's not pretty, it's not fun, it hurts. Making changes in yourself (especially for someone else) is hard and often involves fighting every selfish fiber in your body that is pulling you the other direction. And when some of these things started to happen after the day we said, "I do", I panicked. I wondered what was wrong with me, or us. This is why you need great friends in your life, even after finding "the one".

There was not and is not anything wrong with us. We are completely normal. We did make the right decision - every day that we don't have a conflict (which is actually like 90% of the time) affirms this for me. I am so grateful for family and friends who reminded us (ok, well, more me) and almost taught me for the first time, that: every couple has conflict. It's getting better and faster at resolving it that makes your relationship better. As I have learned to understand that and embrace it, it has made every day (including the few days that irk me a bit more than others), far more wonderful. We are doing great. We have grown so much this first year, individually and as the Fultons; I am so eager to see what we will be, 50 years down the road. 

So, as we embark on the second year of our marriage, I suppose the lesson I've learned, that I hope can encourage you (whatever stage of relationship you are in - including not being in one) is that: you are normal. There is no recipe for success or a "happy" life; you make that for yourself. Conflict and challenges are normal. As the late Nelson Mandela said, "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." (More on Mandela to come.) Welcome the hills, embrace them, and learn from them. Life is far brighter when you do. 


One year getaway. :)



  1. I loved reading this. :) I remember thinking the same "Oh no, what's wrong with me? Did we make a mistake?" thing and having to realize that this is real life- it's learning to deal with conflict in a righteous way that makes all the difference. Happy one year to y'all!

  2. Thanks, Audrey! We've still got lots to learn. :)

  3. I love your open heart and willingness to share your journey -- both successes and foibles.

    I've learned a couple of things in my nearly 27-year marriage. I think the most important thing is learning how to resolve conflict in a kind and loving way. Unfortunately, the way we learn to deal with conflict is to strap on boxing gloves and square off for a fight. That's not very productive. Much better to remember that you are a team, and look at problems by standing side-by-side and looking from the same direction -- as a team. You both bring different ideas and views to any issue, and that is a plus.

    Most important for me is to remember that I can either be right or be close. Good to remember especially when I KNOW -- with every fiber of my being -- that *I* am RIGHT!!! Better to be close. :-)

    Love you both!!

  4. LOL. posted as anonymous... Aunt Mary here

  5. Haha! Thanks for sharing, Aunt Mary! Good advice! Especially when you ARE right. ;) xoxo


Talk to me. :)