Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest, and by hard, Bravo TV clearly means entertaining with the debut of its newest docu-series, "Newlyweds: The First Year."
Meet Alaska and Kimberly Gedeon, two of the show's stars who sat down with The Huffington Post to talk about whether the first-year blues really exist and how they answer the question every newlywed couple gets asked: "What's married life really like?"
The Gedeon's Relationship Rundown
Wife: Kimberly Gedeon, 29, from the Bronx, NY
Husband: Alaska Gedeon, 32, from Brooklyn, NY
Currently live in: Harlem, NY
Time together: 7-8 years; 5 years pre-marriage
Met at: Lotus Nightclub
Married: 2 years on October 14
How they met: "We were the regulars at the club, we would get on the dance floor at the same mixes," Kimberly says. "Outside of the club we would bump into each other ... it was really cool and casual, and then slowly but surely we realized that we had mutual friends and it kind of blossomed from there."
How did you get to the point, after 5 years of dating, that you were ready to get married?
Kim: Alaska and I didn’t live together [before getting married] so that’s what kind of made it interesting. We had our own lives, our own friends (though we also had mutual friends), but it kept it fresh. I was never even in the frame of mind of getting married, but at Alaska’s 30th birthday party -- I threw him a surprise bowling party -- the joke was on me, because he actually proposed. I was totally shocked. I literally fell in the lane.
Alaska: Kim and I had been dating for 5 ½ years and I felt like I was ready. I was prepared career-wise, mind frame-wise and growth-wise. But for us to move to the next level, I had to propose because she wouldn’t move in with me. We like to say we’re a modern day couple with old school values. We just didn’t believe in moving in before marriage. I felt like it was time for me to make that next step and the only way to do that was to propose.
How important do you think it is to be ready in the sense that you just describe?
Alaska: Dating for 5 years for me -- five years of learning each other, of adjusting and changing and compromising -- that is what made me prepared to move on to the next level. If we did live together, maybe I would have dragged it out a little longer. But I think the fact that we didn’t live together is what helped us develop and move to where we are now.
How does all of that preparation impact your relationship now?
Alaska: There are certain things on that list that every man should look at and reflect on before he makes that next step, but you don’t ever want that list to hinder you or be a crutch as to why you’re not doing it. Either you’re going to do it or you’re not. Certain things that I wanted to accomplish in my life were wanting to make sure I could feed Kim and keep a roof over her head. That was the most important thing, the only thing that I had to check off, because everything else, Kim has been dealing with for five years.
Kim: Alaska told one of his buddies who asked “How did you know you were ready to marry Kim?” that he had to look at himself and look at Kim and say, “If she was not to change for the rest of her life, I have to be okay with it.” When he got to that point, I guess that’s when he knew.
Alaska: It made sense to me. I was like, I love her how she is now and I’m okay if she doesn’t change. I might try to kill her sometimes, but ... I just love her.
What are those things that every man needs to look at before making the decision to get married?
Alaska: One is definitely a stable income. If you’re going to be the head of the household, you have to make sure that your income is steady and that whoever you’re marrying is okay with that income and that lifestyle. Two, is just making sure you have a vision. When you’re taking someone on a trip and you have no vision, you look crazy when you get lost and [end up] driving around in circles. Have a vision, a destination, a goal and make sure that they feel secure in that.
Another thing that comes in your character is, you have to be resilient, that you’re not going to quit, you’re not going to give up.
Kim, what do you think those non-negotiables are for women who are considering getting married or think they might be ready?
For me, one of the things that was a deal breaker was me being a priority. I have to feel like I’m a priority. Not career, not family, nothing else can trump [that]. I do believe that if our spiritual life is in order, God is first, family/wife is second, job is third and then everything else falls below that. I can’t trump God, but I’m next in line!
Don’t just jump in and get married because you feel like that’s the only option. [Before you take the plunge] always have lengthy conversations. You’ll be surprised how much people don’t know about each other before they get married. It’s important to do your homework -- talk about finances, talk about sex! Communication is key.
What were the highlights in your first year? And what were those times when you realized that this is the difference between dating for five years and being married?
Alaska: For me, the difference is I’ve learned that I’m able to compromise. Some people might say that I’m kind of stubborn, almost a tyrant, but after marriage, it really broadened my perspective where it’s not just about me anymore. It gave me an opportunity to really exercise that.
Kim: One of the surprising things that I learned about being married is that I don’t have to do that much changing. I think I carried this weight of being a wife and having these wifely duties, that I had to do everything under the sun and I realize now that these are responsibilities I can share with him. I don’t have to be a super woman and a career woman and a wife at the same time. Knowing that, I want to do more now. Knowing that he doesn’t hold me to a standard of cooking everyday or doing his laundry … that’s really cool.
How far into this year and a half did you guys come to those realizations?
Alaska: We’re constantly learning things every single day. When I think I’ve got it figured out, the next day I find a new lesson. Realistically ... we’re far from perfect, we screw up all the time. But screw-ups are okay as long as you learn from them. If you don’t learn from them, that’s when there’s a problem.
Kim: A phrase I always use is that we’re building a plane as we fly it. We’re not going to have all the answers in our first year. I had that expectation of making sure everything was on point, but now I’m comfortable with gaining a momentum, and finding a mojo that works for Alaska and I. And everything doesn’t have to happen at once. I’m okay with the journey of it happening gradually.
Any big surprises once you did take the plunge?
Alaska: Not really. We went in expecting one thing and we pretty much got that. There were a few speed bumps, but nothing shocked us.
What about family and friends? What role have they played in this first year?
Kim: In my case, my family loves the fact that I’m married, but they forget the fact that I’m married -- they want to call me all the time, they want to stop by the house all the time ... but they’re adjusting now.
Alaska: In this past year, because of marriage, we’ve lost a lot of friends, but we’ve gained and identified our true friends. Our true friends are more like our family now.
In one sentence or tweet, how would you answer the ubiquitous question of what marriage is really like?
Alaska: Marriage is an adventure.
Kim: Don’t expect everything to happen overnight.
Check out Kim and Alaska's adorable story of love in the club in the video above and go inside their first year of marriage when "Newlyweds: The First Year" premieres Monday, May 6 at 10pm EST on Bravo.