It is so surreal to think that Kyle and I have already been married a year (on Sunday, September 15) and on the other hand to think that we are still married. Unfortunately, we weren’t one of the lucky couples who defied the statement: “The first year of marriage is the hardest”. In fact, our first year of marriage was nothing short of traitorous.
We are sharing this blog post with you for a few reasons but primarily, because we feel that it is important for our clients to realize that weddings are amazing but what is more amazing, is marriage. And in some cases, having the perfect wedding is the right way to get a good head start on marriage. Though, the truth is, as glamourous as Hollywood makes weddings and the newlywed years out to be, in real life – things aren’t always that pretty. So, let me tell you what Hollywood can’t tell you and what your friends and family are too afraid to say – the truth about a first year of marriage of course, from my and our perspectives.
Within the past year, we didn’t experience many of the typical newlywed experiences; starting our marriage without the support of in-laws or a honeymoon. To me, this is a HUGE soft spot to date; I have always dreamed of running away with my husband after our wedding – friends and family sending us off for week but instead, we were faced with the “loss” of Kyle’s family, our original barn restoration investment ($$$), having to find a new place to live with a barn to honour client contracts, exhausted and dead BROKE. Quite honestly, this was not at all the way I ever imagined starting my marriage with this man who I had loved fiercely, been best friends with since I was 14 and with whom I already had a daughter with. This man, who had only ever known me as strong and confident was seeing me visibly anxious, depressed and entirely vulnerable – my eyes well up with tears as I type this because admitting this to myself has been the hardest part of all. The guilt I was feeling, though wasn’t mine to own, for the separation he was living with his family overwhelmed me beyond measure and I was sure that this man would grow to hate, resent and to leave me for what we had just lived. I really thought that our marriage was destined for the dumps.
On the other hand of things, once we gathered the many pieces of our very broken hearts and “put our big girl panties on” things really became clearer. We knew that we needed to find safe and adequate housing for our daughter and thus, as many of you know, we began our search. We spent about a month obsessing over options and feeling torn about moving away and surrendering to what we’d just built and been promised, before we came across our current location. Like many newlyweds, we purchased our first home together! In October 2018, we also learned that we were to be expecting our second child in early July 2019 and we truly started to feel that all our choices had now led us to “where we needed to be”. We were so excited!
A few weeks later and just a few weeks before we closed on the new home, Kyle was laid off from work with no idea of a new “return to work” day. We were frantic. We could not stay living where we were for health and safety reasons and because this place had become so emotionally toxic to us and yet, we could not lose our new home. We were utterly panicked. Luckily, Kyle was quickly called to work in Kirkland Lake, ON where he would have a decent work rotation and would be earning a steady income. Thank goodness, everything would work out!
During all of this, we had begun packing for our big move – most of it I was left to do alone with Rhéa as Kyle was working out of town. It felt nice to clean and organize, I felt I regained control of my mind and of my emotions and we had something to look forward to. On November 21st (ironically, my late father and paternal grandfather’s birthdays) we closed on our new house and Kyle was lucky enough to make it home to surprise and to help myself and some of our family and friends with the move. The move was great, and we were so grateful for all the help we received.
For a couple of weeks, we felt peace and so much happiness. We felt settled (mostly) and in control. Kyle returned to work and we were about to celebrate our 4th anniversary as an official couple, separated by miles though on December 7th, 2018. When I woke that morning though, I was violently ill. I was barely able to get our daughter to daycare, call in sick and return home to bed. Undenounced to me, I was in the early stages of a miscarriage. The next day, I returned to work thinking that I had just been hit with a 24hr flu yet, over the course of the day my symptoms worsened. During my lunch, I made my way to an ultrasound clinic where I was assessed. The entire process was horrific – no one could tell me what was happening, yet their faces said it all. I did not receive official news of our miscarriage for about a week yet, the following morning I was living it fully and alone with Rhéa. Never having experienced such horror, I was unsure of my needs and wants and was too ashamed of my “failure” to ask for help (big mistake!). I felt resentful towards Kyle for not being around and to anyone whom I told about what I just lived due to their “we need to fix this” responses. Emotionally, I think I was still numb and exhausted from the horror we’d live with my husband’s family from July 2018 and were still living. I requested another day off work the following week to rest and felt “good to go” emotionally after about a week. Christmas came and went and was a wonderful experience in our new home. Now, things felt that they truly were peaceful, falling into place and settling.
NOT SO FAST - Not long after my return to work after the Christmas holidays and shortly into the New Year, we learned that I was expecting again. WHAT THE!?! Great news and sheer excitement, once again! Unfortunately, though 4 short weeks later, we were struck with another “hit” when my Director at the time walked into my office stating that I needed to attend a meeting with her and the Human Resources department that day – I was shocked, confused and panicked. To make a long story short, I was being “dismissed” without reason and this was “acceptable” as I still had 3 weeks left to my one-year probationary period yet, all my performance evaluations were successful and positive. I spent most of the day speaking with union representatives, panicked and obviously very emotional. Luckily, I was offered a small severance package that would support our family until I could find work. I have worked since the age of 12 babysitting, farming, hairdressing, etc. I had gone to university and maintained 3 jobs at a time, completed a master’s degree and found employment in my career immediately upon graduation. I had never in my life been apprehended in the workplace and so, you can probably imagine the shock and disbelief I felt. What was worst yet, was that my husband was stuck working out of town and I somehow had to gather myself enough to care for our toddler and try my best not to “lose” the baby I was carrying. I felt myself spiralling back into depression, anxiety (all situational) and my self-esteem had taken a HUGE hit. I take such pride in my professionalism and career and to be honest, I am still feeling the impacts of this event today. Knowing that I needed to find work, I quickly began my search and had 7 interviews in a month’s span, 3 separate job offers. I was back to work within a month and a half and still had some of my severance pay as a very small “safety net”.
We celebrated Rhéa’s third birthday in March (March 17th) and I believe shortly after this, Kyle’s contract in Kirkland Lake ended. We were just getting back on our feet and we were being hit once again financially -seriously!? Luckily, Kyle was offered another job about a week later and this ended up being a job with a company he really loved. The down side, because there always seems to be one for us, he would be working in Kingston for 2-3 weeks at a time. So, to resume all of this in case you aren’t following- most of our marriage has been spent apart and in financial hardship! I grew up with a dad who worked away and so, I was aware of what this sacrifice would feel like for me and for our daughter. We are so fortunate to have the world’s best toddler; honestly. Some days were difficult, but I was so lucky that most days, she just seemed to understand that “mommy was doing her best and exhausted” and she cooperated as I navigated parenthood and entrepreneurship basically alone.
So how does all of this relate to the business? In the middle of everything else, we really needed to get a move on with the barn venue business and were attending meetings to change the municipal zoning from agricultural to residential/commercial and initially, that wasn’t looking up for us either. At our second meeting with the council of our municipality, we were granted permission to “go ahead” and to consult with our local Building Inspector, obtain drawings from various professionals such as Architects and Engineers ($$$$$), etc. Stress began to build once again, we had been unstable financially now for months, how in the world were we about to make things happen?!?! To this day, I don’t know how we’ve made it happen but, being entirely transparent it’s been a HUGE sacrifice. We have managed to make things work by using our regular income and selling whatever we could to put that money towards the barn restoration.
Aside from our finances being a struggle for an extended period, we were so tired on various levels (emotional, mental and physical) and obligated to get things completed in the barn on a deadline. In fact, Kyle spent several 18-hour days and most of his free time working outside in the barn to get things completed. I recognize how tired he was and still is and how hard he has worked to make this business happen and I also realize on how much time he missed out on with our daughter. I am so grateful for his Carpentry skills, resilience and dedication to us however, with that said, I felt, and I think he would agree, that we were drifting apart and feeling resentful towards each other. For him, he felt alone, isolated and tired and I was frustrated to have to manage the house, our child, be pregnant and help as much as I could in the barn when I could; up until very recently I have been helping Kyle in the barn and with landscaping until I am literally physically debilitated and all the while, managing our business, our social media account and arranging and attending viewings for the barn.
Fast forwarding to more recently, have things improved? I think we would agree in some ways, that they have. We are wrapping up work in the barn, able to enjoy some time away from home, our business appears to be blooming for 2020, etc. But that’s the business side of things. On a personal level, have we fought? Oh boy, have we ever. I would say that I was the one who blew a gasket on a few occasions because Kyle is cool as a cucumber and nothing seems to upset him the way things upset me. Sometimes our fights were due to poor choices, lack of communication, lack of support for one another, not enough time together aside from working on this massive project together, not enough time away from the chores, the child, each other and with friends, etc. As difficult as it is to admit, there have been a couple of occasions where I have called it quits on our marriage – I will admit that and that we have been hurtful to each other beyond what we ever could have imagined. Sometimes, I swear we have hated each other (no joke).
But with all of this said, what have we learned in our first year of marriage:
1. We have been faced with circumstances or made decisions that most newlywed couples don’t (loss of family, loss of business, instable finances, loss of jobs, lack of external supports, etc).
2. Big disagreements are NORMAL + ACCEPTABLE and what is most important, is how we come out on the other side of things.
3. We are a couple first, parents second and business partners third – we are doing our best to stick to this and make it known to our clients as well.
4. Marriage is REALLY FRIGGEN hard.
5. You will change and so will your partner.
6. You are more different than you may have ever realized.
7. Love isn’t enough – some days you will love your partner more than others. Many days and many parts of marriage will not make you happy. No matter what, it is important to figure it out together and to remember that at the bare minimum, you should be friends.
8. Learn to let it go and forgive – I continue to struggle with this one. I am a “tab keeper”.
9. Quality time alone is CRUCIAL – no matter how tired you are, do it anyway. The lazy nights (though they are few) watching movies and eating junk are EVERYTHING.
10. I am not an easy person to live with – though I may appear sweet and easy going, I am OCD in all ways, I can be inflexible, I am set in my ways and very strong willed. Also, I can be quite moody at times – sometimes I just want to be left alone with my thoughts (no talking, no touching, nothing) and this drives Kyle insane. Also, I am an avid blanket hog and I get hangry like no one you have ever met!
11. Balancing a career, a child, a husband, health, and a business is VERY challenging – we’ve had a tendency to neglect each other and ourselves along the way.
12. It is important to communicate and to be aware of your personal needs – unrealistic and unattainable EXPECTATIONS WILL KILL YOUR MARRIAGE. These will need to be adjusted.
13. Being married is very different from dating long-term and living together – there’s no where to go when we are upset with each other, lol! We must hash out our differences. Being that we have a beautiful daughter together and a second child on the way, divorce is an absolute last resort for us.
14. I am learning to calm down and let things go – not everything can be perfect all the time and quite honestly, Kyle is just a “laid back jack” most of the time. I can’t expect him to feel things the way I do.
15. Hold loosely to the advice of marriage from friends and family – seek help from unbiased professionals if possible. This is something I would like to do yearly whether there are presenting issues in your marriage or not.
16. Financial decisions are and have been the toughest part of our marriage and relationship.
17. Try and make time for the things you used to do at the start of your relationship – they are what brought you together in the first place. For us, this used to be fishing and we haven’t gone in over 2 years.
18. Turns out that “picking your battles” is damn good advice.
19. Don’t speak out of emotion and be patient – milestones good and bad will come in waves and each of these can be special, memorable and an opportunity to learn about yourselves and each other.
20. When one of you is going through a tough time, drop everything even if that thing you are holding may break.
21. My partner will always have my back and my fears of this being otherwise, are unfounded.
So, aside from the hardships and the heartaches – I think that it is important to highlight that we still love each other, that when we subtract all of the external stress, we are happy and that when the storms calms and the dust settles, we have always found our way back to each other.
As difficult as it has been to share these pieces of information; we hope that it helps our clients, family and friends understand weddings, marriage and Kyle and I from a new lens. We also hope that it helps motivate and provide optimism to other newlyweds going through a difficult first year.
Here’s hoping that year two brings us a different story to share with you all. We also want to thank all of you who support and encourage us; truly, some days this is what has kept us going.
Kyle + Kait xo