On the day of my wedding, I looked over at my dad. He was beaming as we walked down the central passageway. But he hesitated as he gave my hand to my fiancé, Alastair. My family wasn’t quite comfortable with me marrying just yet.

When we first got engaged, my family asked us to wait a few years to set a date. But we were young — just out of college — and stubborn. Alastair was living in England and I was in the U.S., we wanted to be closer to each other. We decided to get married a few months later in July of 2011.

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During our first year of marriage, we felt like we needed to prove that our relationship was going to be successful. It bothered me that I hadn’t received my family’s approval to get married and I wanted to make amends.

Yet, after the honeymoon ended, we returned to our one-bedroom apartment and weren’t quite sure what to do next. As my family had predicted, our first year of marriage was a struggle.

At group events, we were constantly being compared to other couples who were doing well in their careers and starting families. It felt like we were foundering.

Alastair’s work visa also put a strain on our relationship. I wasn’t enjoying my job and was coming home to an unemployed husband. It led to weeks of arguing about how we could afford to make our marriage work.

Then one day while scrolling through our old photographs from college, I found an old picture of us from college.

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We both had paint on our faces, we didn’t have any money, and we didn’t care what other people thought of us.

I realized that we had stopped focusing on our relationship and were worrying too much about the public perception of our success. In addition, we hadn’t had a good laugh in a while.

We started supporting each other to find jobs that we enjoyed. And we started to have fun again.

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When I was happier, I started to notice the little things in life, such as the way Alastair was cutting back on his personal expenses to make room in the budget for our date nights. It opened my eyes to all of the little moments that made our relationship different and beautiful.

Now we regularly go out of our way to make each other laugh when things are difficult.

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Nobody can make me laugh harder than my husband, and I know Alastair enjoys laughing with me, too.

According to a study in Personal Relationships, marriages are healthier when couples can laugh with each other. The study’s author, Laura Kurtz, told Time that although it may seem intuitive, there hasn’t been much research into how laughter impacts marriages.

Kurtz told Time that shared laughter can go a long way to bridge a relationship:

“Moments of shared laughter are potent for a relationship. They bring a couple closer together.”

On our sixth wedding anniversary, my dad told me that he appreciates my husband, his sense of humor, and how supportive he’s been of my goals over the years.

Looking back, we realize that we chose to struggle. We were comparing ourselves to older couples who had waited to get married. As a young couple, we had a different list of priorities.

To say we don’t care about public perception isn’t entirely true. Alastair and I do listen to concerns from our friends and family members, but we’ve realized that we need to put our relationship first and support each other.

We renewed our vows last year with our family standing behind us. Perhaps we could’ve waited a few years before getting married, but we would’ve missed so many opportunities to laugh and grow together.

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