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Our First Year of Marriage Was the Happiest and the Hardest: Here’s What I Wish We Knew
by Janell Willis
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September 11, 2020

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Our First Year of Marriage Was the Happiest and the Hardest: Here’s What I Wish We Knew

Wayne and Janell Willis (Photo courtesy of Leggy Christa/Instagram @leggychristaphotolab)
Wayne and Janell Willis (Photo courtesy of Leggy Christa/Instagram @leggychristaphotolab)

On March 25, 2017, our big day had finally arrived! We walked down the aisle in the presence of our family and closest friends, taking in all who had come to witness this momentous occasion. After our wedding weekend, that’s when the reality of it all set in. We both realized it was just the two of us, and we had to figure out how to do life together as a team. Although this was something we both looked forward to, it did create some difficult moments.

During the first year of marriage, we started the construction process of building our first home. We also traveled the world, taking several trips, both domestically and abroad. My husband Wayne pursued his entrepreneurial endeavors by launching a bow tie business (which has now evolved into full custom styling for men), and I started a new job with a Fortune 500 company that I would like to call a ‘dream come true.’ 

While we were excited about traveling, moving into our new home, and launching a new business, we also suffered a miscarriage. We were living life at full-speed, and all of this transpired within our first year as a married couple. The lessons we learned were not just in the first year of marriage, but three years later, and we are continually learning something new every day about ourselves and each other.  

Wayne and Janell Willis (Photo courtesy of Leggy Christa/Instagram @leggychristaphotolab)
Courtesy of Leggy Christa/Instagram @leggychristaphotolab

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that our communication styles are very different. Sometimes, it feels like we are speaking different languages. I know we hear it all of the time, but experiencing it is something different! Looking back on the first few months of our union, I vividly remember my husband not entirely understanding me. And subsequently becoming frustrated because it seemed we weren’t connecting to the fullest extent as we both know we could be. But in actuality, we were both learning and growing individually and in this new space collectively.  

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Our faith in God proved to be one of the many ways we made it these last three years and, ultimately, as we’re striving for a couple of forevers. Experiencing a miscarriage was hard. Not knowing how or if we would conceive a child took an emotional toll on both of us and adjusting to life as a married couple was challenging. 

The Willis Family (Photo courtesy of The Willis Family)
The Willis Family (Photo courtesy of The Willis Family)

Turning to faith helped us move forward in navigating the joyous and challenging times, and four months after our miscarriage, we found out we were pregnant with our first child! Our feelings were indescribable, and we were ready to move into this next phase as parents with open arms.

Transparency in laying our emotions on the table and having open and honest discussions helped us strengthen our trust in each other and communicate more effectively and enhanced intimacy on many levels between the two of us. Sexually, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilling, it was all-encompassing. Even when you don’t necessarily realize it, we are continually changing because the person you married yesterday is not the same person today. There is always something new to learn about yourself and your partner. Creating the foundation and framework for our marriage hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it by all means.

I’m a huge fan of The Five Love Languages. It’s a must-read for couples during your first year of marriage and can also serve as a refresher after years of being together. Our biggest relationship hurdle, which we’ve now mastered, is working together as a team by keeping our joint interests for the betterment of the familial unit at the forefront at all times. But what I’ve learned to appreciate the most in this journey is the ability to always have someone to be able to share your greatest experiences with, and that is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Want more candid talk from newlyweds? Watch two newly married couples from season 4 of the Black Love series talk about adjusting in the early years on After Love, the official after show of Black Love.

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