How to exhale – Mahj

Mahj emailed me months ago.  Can I post on my anniversary?  Can I?  Of COURSE you can.  The lady  who kisses like he’d returned from war gets an annversary slot.  We’re reasonable, like that.    

Mahj has written something which in her own words is “reflective and a bit Mahj-like” .  All I know is that it’s so very honest, and so very refreshing to read a story of a first year of marriage that doesn’t involve fireworks and rose petals and rousing violin solos whichever way you turn.  This post was supposed to be titled “My First Year Of Marriage” but I changed it because the line about exhaling?  It’s perfection, and the point of this post, and the reason we marry at all. 

Here’s to many more happy years to you both, Mahj.  I’m glad you exhaled.

When you read this, as of yesterday, I will have been married for a whole year. 365 days. 8,760 hours of wedded bliss. And it’s been a stellar year and not a bad start for wedded life methinks.

I think back to our wedding day a lot. It was such a beautiful day, a culmination of planning, prep and a really shitty time in our lives that had come a few  years before. We were ready to do this, we were SO ready to do this. To say those words in front of all our family and friends. To commit to each other. And then have a big, fat party!  

Image by the phenomenally talented Andy Wardle

But I have a confession to make. Here goes, (deep breath), we never had a “honeymoon” period. *Winces*. There, I said it. I should clarify. We were obviously very happy to be married to each other, delirious even. But we never had that completely blissed up, sexed up, cant-you-tell-just-by-looking-at-us-that-we’re-newlyweds-phase. We got married and pretty much went back to being Mahj and Martin. And that used to really bug me. Like we’d missed our chance and we’d never have that moment back. And then I realised that it’s not about those deliriously giddy first couple of months (though I’m sure they’re very lovely). It’s about the months and years that follow. It’s about the long haul baby! And so I stopped feeling sorry for myself and how we were doomed and decided that we are actually doing quite well thank you very much.

I must say though, after the honeymoon was over and we were home and the thank you cards had all been sent, I felt a bit down. A bit lost really. You spend so long planning your day. So much time and effort goes into it and then when it’s all over…well…I felt rather flat and sad. But, as above, it was important to remember the long haul. That we didn’t get married for just the one day, that in fact, we got married for the marriage.

What I did realise on our recent holiday together, whilst I watched Martin chatting with a couple we’d met who’d asked about the scar on his head, was that for the last 4 years, I’d been holding my breath. Whether I’d realised it or not, I’d been wound up just that little bit tighter, not quite wanting to fully let go and relax. I was bracing myself, steeling myself, waiting for The Next Bad Thing. But watching Martin talk so easily to this couple, I realised that perhaps it was time to let go (as he’d clearly done) and exhale. And so I did. And I felt a little better.

Getting married didn’t make Martin and I’s relationship feel all that different if I’m being honest. I had a new name sure and a beautiful wedding ring, but that was it as far as change went. It was below the surface where I felt it. The buzz when someone calls me Mrs Brammall (which I still get). That odd feeling when I see my maiden name. Calling Martin my husband. Being called his wife. And knowing that come hell or high water, he will always be there for me, as I will for him. Of coming home to him. Of being excited to tell him first when something great happens. Of thinking of and planning our future together: holidays, moving house, having children and knowing I’m doing it all with him. All of this fills me with such contentment I can’t tell you. The glowy kind.

Martin and I were speaking the other day about how we couldn’t believe how quickly our anniversary had come around. He said that though it had come round fast, it didn’t feel like it’d been that fast. That he’d enjoyed the past year and all it had held for us. I said that life for us as a couple hadn’t changed that much since getting married and he replied very simply “that’s because we are still us”.

And so to my husband of 365 days, 8,760 hours, I hereby promise that I will always try to make sure that we are still “us” for all our anniversaries to come. I love you Martin.

Mahj xoxo

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience, Wedding Reports
27 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Reading the beginning part about ‘honeymoon period’ makes me think about all those other pressures of emotions others, & sometimes ourselves, layer on that just aren’t helpful. ‘The one’ of choosing your wedding dress & what if you don’t cry at first sight & I’m sure each of us have our own where we wonder did we feel deep enough? Enjoy year two of being ‘you’ in all your glory & usness.

  2. Leeanne
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I never experienced the honeymoon period either but think that’s down to the fact I fell pregnant just after the wedding and spent the first 3 months with my head down the toilet. It took me a while to realise that just because I wasn’t feeling the while we are just married, look how loved up we are, emotions wasn’t a bad thing, we just had other things to deal with. Our 1st anniversary was in June and I remember looking at my husband holding our beautiful baby girl and thinking how lucky I am and that I love this man even more than I did on our wedding day. That it what I know I will feel every year on our anniversary whether it be our, 5th, 15th or 25th.

  3. Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary Mahj and Martin! I agree with Rachel, pressures about things like honeymoon periods are not helpful nor are they realistic. I’m raising a mug of tea to you both this morning…cheers! x

  4. Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Happy anniversary beautiful!!! (and gorgeous Martin too!) speaking to my heart again, right here. I hope you have a fabulous next year, and FYI whenever I email you I think of you as Mahj to the Brammell…. Xxx

  5. Posted July 23, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    M-brammz! Happy anniversary! I agree with Rachel, there were loads of things I worried about not feeling how you were supposed to….that first year gives better perspective and what really matters becomes even more apparent. Hope you had a lovely weekend together.


  6. Steff
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary luv :)

    Great, wise words as always. xx

  7. Esme
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Happy, happy anniversary to you and Martin. This is what fantastic marriages are made of.


  8. Vivienne
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary to you both!

  9. Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Mahj, you are my goddamn hero. First off, congratulations on your first of many many joyful years being a Mrs. I hope you both had a wonderful anniversary weekend!

    Second, this post is basically exactly how I feel right now. A bit… strange. We’re not in a honeymoon period, in fact we came straight back from our actual honeymoon into G being unemployed (thankfully not for long) and me hitting the most labour-intensive part of my masters, and life doesn’t feel blissful or glorious, it just feels like life, sometimes wonderful, sometimes shitty, but with occasional extra bouncing each time I phone my Mum and she answers “hello Mrs Griffiths”. You have it in one line, or rather your husband does… “we’re still us”, and isn’t that totally and utterly the point anyway?

    K x

  10. Posted July 23, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary Mahj and Martin! You’ve hit the nail on the head. I feel just like this, so many people ask you how married life is and we just answer ‘the same’. It’s not a bad ‘the same’ just not drastically different from before.

  11. Peridot
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Well I can actually SEE that ‘glowy contentment’ oozing out of that bottom photo – just lovely.

    I’m hoping to avoid the post-wedding blues by the fact that we’re waiting another 6 months for our ‘proper’ honeymoon. But I loved this post – I admit I am slightly hankering for a change of feeling but after 17 years together I admit it’s unlikely! Either way, I’ll be reminding myself that (as I think we’ve already proven!) “it’s for the long haul, baby”!

  12. Katie
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary Mahj and Martin! Love this post. It totally sums up, how Andy and I feel too. We got married the day after you, by the way. xx

  13. Jessie
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Ah Mahj, this is it, everything that I’ve been trying to express for the last month when people ask me ‘so, what’s it like being married’? When you get back to ‘reality’, the flat is just as messy as it always was, work just as irritating, and you don’t have anymore hours in the day. We’re off on our honeymoon in September and I’m holding on to that as the moment when that newlywed feeling smacks us in the face – but then again, if it doesn’t, it’ll be a good long holiday regardless!

  14. Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary!
    I always got a bit concerned about how the first year of being married will be like. We are perhaps still going to be living apart, moving house, being even poorer – how does that equate to being in ‘honeymoon phase’? Not so much.
    Thank you for basically telling me that it doesn’t matter – if anything, we will just continue being US. Not a loved up, mushy, clingy version of us, just the same as we are now. That make me happy, because I fell in love with the current us, not any other version!
    L x

  15. Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary to the both of you – I hope you had a truly lovely day yesterday.

    I have to say I’m secretly relieved to hear that so many other people have had this experience too. I always felt like I was letting people down when they asked my how newly wed life was and I replied ‘the same as it always was’. For some reason people take that to be a bad thing, but to me that was the whole point – we weren’t getting married because we needed to change our relationship at all, but because we loved it exactly as it was and just wanted to celebrate that. I think if you go into it thinking that getting married is going to improve things then you could be in for a bit of a shock.

    This year hasn’t been the best or the easiest for us, but no matter what happens we know that we have each other – and as you say Mahj ‘we’re in it for the long haul’.


    • Clare
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      we weren’t getting married because we needed to change our relationship at all, but because we loved it exactly as it was and just wanted to celebrate that.

      Possibly the best comment relating to marriage ever made on AOW. Ever.

      PS Happy Anniversary Mahj!

      • Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Hollie you literally summed up exactly what I want to say when people ask me “how’s married life?”, which happens anytime I see anyone at the moment!

        K x

  16. Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Awww – Happy Anniversary guys!
    I saw on FB you were out and about this weekend but didn’t realise why – I hope you had some good QT for celebrating together :)

    It’s understandable after all you guys have been through that you haven’t been able to relax. After such big life events it does take time to realise because one bad thing happened it doesn’t mean it will happen again. Perhaps that’s it for your bad luck. I hope so :)

    Lots of love to you both. xo

  17. PiriyaP
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary Mahj!
    This is my first comment on AOW – in fact I’m a relatively new reader. When I read your post Mahj, I knew this should be the first post I should comment on.
    You both look absolutely beautiful and deep-inside-content and glowing in that second photo, it made me smile! :) I’m in a sticky situation at the moment with my bf – I don’t know if we do reach the stage where we want to get married that my family will give us their blessing. I hope that if they do, we will look as happy as you do in that photo. xxx

  18. Mahj
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    As always AOWers, you say the nicest things! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and also for your agreement about the ‘honeymoon period’, or lack thereof! It really did make me feel so much better that it wasn’t just me/us. As someone above mentioned (Penski maybe) I think it’s all too easy to get swept up in how you think you’re supposed to feel/act when you’re a newlywed and lose sight a bit of just being yourselves and happily married.

    So here is to being ourselves! And a very happy anniversary to you Katie and I hope things work out for you Piriya.


  19. Zan
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful writing as always from my little sister :)

    PS still jealous of your fabulous holiday tan!

  20. Helena
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary!

    I know what you mean about feeling the same after the wedding as before. For us I think it’s because we’ve lived together for years and had planned our future together so there’s been no real change to our lives – we were totally committed to each other before and a piece of paper isn’t going to change that. On the other hand I do feel a quietly contented glow when I look down at our hands and see our wedding rings. And a bit of an “oops, probably shouldn’t have spent so much money on a dress for one day” when I see it still hanging, with a lovely muddy border round the bottom, in our wardrobe.

    • Helena
      Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Erm, by “muddy border round the bottom” I mean that the hem of my dress soaked up lots of dirty puddles as there was so much rain. Not that I had a digestive trauma on our wedding day!

  21. Posted July 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    This is my first comment on AOW and on the perfect post I feel. This post sums up exactly how I feel about being married. There was no honeymoon period for us(apart from the actual honeymoon of course). Once we were back at work, it was back to how it always was and you know what, that’s fine. We got married to celebrate our love for each other so why should anything change after being married. It probably doesn’t help that we are still living with the in-laws whilst saving to buy our first home. I have a feel that once we get a place of our own, we will feel a bit more married.

  22. Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t read everyone else’s comments yet but -

    this is beautiful. So honest, and I really related to it. I often say it, but there’s so much pressure on weddings, honeymoon and early months of marriage to be absolutely perfect – but life is often not like that. Not all the time anyway! I too felt a little bit flat and sad (like you mentioned) after my wedding. Wishing you millions and millions of wonderful moments together in the future. Happy anniversary to you both!

  23. Alex D
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    VERY late to the party but wanted to say I agree whole heartedly with your post, Mahj. Really sums up the way Mr D & I felt after our wedding day. I look forward to reading some more from you, missus! P.S. Aren’t you a bloody good-looking couple? Swit swoo! x

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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