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On the way home from running errands in our quaint town, my heart fluttered as I drove down the familiar street. I paused for a second at the stop sign, taking in the sight of my first apartment with my husband.
It was a one-bedroom apartment with a “no pets” policy. For the first few months, we didn’t even have internet or cable. Metal folding chairs were our furniture in the early weeks. Trips to the grocery store involved heavy calculations so we didn’t go over our tight budget. Doing laundry required walking outside, around the building, and down a flight of stairs to the dingy basement.
We lacked so much.
However, when I drive by that apartment, I’m always filled with warmth―and not just from the sweaty memories of the summer of record-temperatures without air-conditioning. Thinking of that first year of marriage, I never think about all of the things we didn’t have.
I think of all of the amazing memories and the sheer love we experienced in that first year.
There were spontaneous walks to the local coffee shop on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There were game nights where we played Yahtzee until two in the morning by our single lamp in the cramped dining room. There were spontaneous kisses, simple bouquets of flowers picked from the garden. There were evenings sipping hot chocolate and watching the first snow out our front window. There was the daily feeding of our “pet squirrel” we named Jerry.
There were first Christmas parties, first surprise birthdays where we jammed our family into every inch of the apartment. There were daily laughs, tons of milestones, tons of firsts in that apartment.
Five years later, and we’re still together, still making memories. We’ve got a house of our own now and two extra bedrooms. We’ve got a yard, a grill, and a house full of pets. We’ve figured out our budgeting. We have cable, internet, and several televisions. We have so much more furniture and really, so much more of everything now.
Things are good... but I’d be lying if I said that newlywed euphoria was still present in our marriage. Gone are the days of random wildflower bouquets. Kisses aren’t as frequent, and simple things like playing Yahtzee aren’t as exciting as the newest show on Netflix.
Still, our love has matured and deepened. It’s not as fluttery and magical as the first year, but it’s stronger in many ways. We’ve grown, and so has our love. We’ve weathered tough storms and scary moments. Our connection has moved past the firsts into a region of reliability and steadfastness.
That’s not a bad thing.
Some days, however, I wish I could go back to that first simple year. It certainly wasn’t perfect. There were days of scathing remarks and vicious fights. There were moments we had no clue what we were doing.
Looking back, though, the moments of togetherness, of excitement, of love, shine brighter than the bad ones.
Our society often views newlyweds with criticism and condescension. We like to remind them that “tough times are coming” or refer to them as clueless. We scoff at their belief that passion and romance will last forever. We scowl when we see them drowning each other in sweet looks and tender touches in public.
I think, though, we should be sending them a different message.
So I say to the newlyweds: Bask in every glorious moment of the first year.
However, down the road, the memories you make as newlyweds will be the moments you flash back to. They’ll be the moments you smile about on rough days together. They’ll be the foundation for your life together, the moments that remind you of why you’re better with each other.
They will be the moments that make you smile as you drive past your first place together. More importantly, they will be the moments that remind you why,wherever you are in life, your significant other is truly where home is.