A lot of people say that the first year of marriage was the hardest, if so, we were lucky. Our first year didn't seem that hard at all. In fact, the 5 months of long distance were a lot harder than being married if you ask me.
I'm not naive enough to believe that's the norm. I don't believe everyone's first year is easy. I don't believe everyone's first year is hard. Why? Because everyone's marriage is different.
That's the #1 thing I learned during my first year of marriage. That my marriage isn't my parents marriage, or his parents marriage. Our marriage isn't the same as his co-workers or as my friend's marriage, even though she got married just over a month after me. Every single marriage is different.
Some couples cuddle and hold hands a lot, some don't. Some couples fight and bicker often, some don't. In some couples one works while the other goes to school, and some need both persons to work to provide.
I'm not saying we should toss out all marriage advice we are given. People who have been married 50 years know a heck of a lot more about marriage than I do, and some pieces of marriage advice are solid truths. Gottman's ratio has been proven over and over. Date night makes for happier marriages. But the way my sister and her husband interact is very different from the way my husband and I interact, and that doesn't make either of our marriages bad. They are just different.
Your marriage might not look like someone else's. A friend from high school is CONSTANTLY posting photos of all the cute things her husband does for her, right now, my husband doesn't even have time to do those kinds of things. Between full-time work, full-time school and lots of things that need fixing in our new house, he's busy from sun up to sun down. But I'd rather him fix the broken water heater than make a puzzle love note for me. That doesn't make my friend's husband lazy or worthless, it just makes them different. It means we are in different phases. It means we are our own marriage and no one else's.
The #1 thing I learned in my first year of marriage is that no one's marriage is the same. Having a hard first year or an easy first year doesn't necessarily set you up for success or failure in the future. It's just a year of 2 people learning to combine finances, manage time, stress, sex and all the other crazy but wonderful things that come with marriage. My marriage is not your marriage. I might inspire yours, and you might inspire mine, but we will never have identical marriages. And for that, I'm grateful, because how boring would the world be if everybody was exactly the same?