Lessons learned in the first year of marriage

My husband and I are celebrating our 14-year anniversary. That is insane!! Today, I want to share with you the lessons learned in the first year of marriage.

3 pictures. One of a wedding bouquet, the other is of a flower centre peice and the third is of a bride holding flowers. In the middle of these 3 pictures are the words: 6 things I learned in the fist year of marriage. www.onedeterminedlife.com

This year was the first year that I looked at our wedding day photo and saw 2 babies!! Seriously, we look so young (24 & 26)

Anne and Greg markey on wedding day 2007. Lessons learned the first year of marriage. 

Even though my wedding day was so long ago, I still remember it like it was yesterday. There are large portions of the day that are a blur, but I clearly remember the look on his face when he saw me walk down the aisle. I thought I loved him. I guess I did, but my love has grown so much since that day.

To celebrate our 10 years together, I wanted to take time and remember everything that I have learned about myself and marriage. I have learned so much so, I want to break it all up into smaller blog posts.

Read the next post: 4 things I wish I knew before I got married 

** This post has Affiliate Links see my Disclosure Policy***

6 things I Learned in the first year of Marriage

I was warned over and over that the first year was the hardest. So, I was expecting a bad year. Thankfully. We had a really easy first year. Even though it was an easy year, I still learned so much from our first year of marriage. I hope what I learned can help you too.

1. Don’t be attached to the symbolism

When we got back from our honeymoon, we bought a starter garden.  I was so excited! I had this vision of growing our own fresh herbs and using them in the kitchen.  So, I put the plants on our balcony and took care of them.

Within a few days, they were dead!

I had this moment and thought: oh no!! Our first project as a couple has failed!! We have killed our plants!!!

I was worried that this might be a sign of our lives as a couple. That somehow we would fail because we could not keep plants alive. I had heard that if you want kids you should try to keep a plant alive. So all these voices were saying: you can’t even keep plants alive, but you want kids!!

I had to take a moment and calm down.

I needed to realize that these plants were not a picture of our marriage. My ability to take care of plants had nothing to do with my ability to be a good wife or a good mother.

I had to let go of those expectations I had of myself and let a plant be a plant.

10 years later, I have yet to keep a single plant alive but I have 3 healthy kids and healthy marriage.

2. Let it go

My husband does not do the dishes the same way I do. He fills the sink first and washes the dishes in a specific order. I like to leave the sinks empty and run the water and wash one dish at a time.

Watching him do dishes drove me nuts. I thought that his way took longer and made no sense to me.
It was tempting to “Correct” him. Instead, I let it go. I decided that I preferred him helping me in his way than fighting over the way things should be done.

That first year, I had to let go of a lot of things: mostly control over how things were done around the house. I decided that I did not want to create conflict over these simple and small things. I instead focused my energy on making our home a good place for both of us to live in.

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3. Think before you speak

In the first few months of marriage, we bought a dining room table. Some of our wedding guests had given us the money to purchase a table. We went to the store and brought it home.

We had planned to put the table together the next night.

The next day, my husband calls me and tells me that he has been invited to participate in a baseball game. I said it was ok and I figured that after the game he would come home and set the table up. I also assumed that if he was going to go out after, he would call again and ask if I wanted to come as well.

That call never came. He played the game and went out without communication.

What came next

Needless to say, I was livid. I was ready to yell and scream and accuse him of not thinking about me and my needs. I was also mad because I had started building the table and he was not around to help. He had made me feel abandoned.

Over the next few hours, I was able to calm down and gain perspective on the whole night. By the time my husband got home, I did not yell or scream. I was able to discuss with him how his actions had made me feel.

Had he been home when I was mad, I probably would have caused some serious damage to our marriage. My words and anger would have hurt his feelings and might have changed the way we worked together in the future or affected many other aspects of our relationship.

This event was a big lesson for me.

From then on, when I got angry, I thought about how my words and actions may affect our marriage in the long run. Since I am in it for the long hull, I decided that I should be careful to not ruin my marriage over these small issues.

4. Set a routine

When we got married we had lots of invitations out for dinner and visits and nights out of the house. My husband is an outgoing guy and he loved being out of the house every night. For me, that was too much.

After a few months of being out of the house every night, I told my husband that I could not keep up. I told him that being out of the house every night was too much for me. I needed nights at home with nothing to do and we could just be the two of us.

Since he liked being out, we needed to find a routine that worked for both of us. After some discussion, we decided to stay home 3 nights a week.

In the first year of marriage, it’s important to find a routine that suits both of you. We both had to compromise. He wanted to be out and I wanted to be in. We settled into a routine that we could both live with.

Since that first year, we have continued to set routines for our family that work for both of us. Having a routine that meets all our needs is sometimes hard to get, but it’s so worth it.

5. Learn to communicate

The first year of marriage is the foundation year. It’s the perfect time to build healthy communication patterns. If you can learn to communicate in a healthy way, then the rest of your marriage will be so much better off.

I found that the first year we “defined terms”.

I would say something that hurt his feeling and I would say sorry and he would say: that’s ok. To me: that’s ok means that what I said and did was ok. I wanted to hear, you’re forgiven. For him, when he said: that’s ok, he meant– I forgive you.

So we were using different languages to mean the same things. It’s important to figure out what the language differences are and make it clear what you’re trying to say. Doing so will save a lot of heartache and misunderstandings.

6. Enjoy The Year

There is no other time in a marriage like that first year.

When we got married, we were young with no commitments. We didn’t own a home yet or have children.  I wish we would have enjoyed these freedoms more. Once you start having kids or financial responsibilities you have less freedom and have to be more mindful.

So, that first year, just have fun. Do things that you might not be able to do again ( or at least for a long time). Travel, go to the movies, go out to dinner. These things become a bit more complicated when you add a few kids or mortgage payments to your life.

I was very fortunate and had a very good first year. It was easy to live together and get along. I know some people are not so fortunate and they have a hard first year. But, the first year becomes the second and before you know it 10 years have passed by.

On the comments below, share the lessons you learned in the first year of marriage. Please share this blog post with others. Thank you.

Read part 2 in my series: 4 Things I wish I knew before I Got Married

71 responses to “Lessons learned in the first year of marriage”

  1. Riva Treasure Avatar

    Great tips in here. My Husband and I just celebrated our 6 year anniversary. I love the ‘let it go’, I wish he would just figure out that I am never going to pick up my shoes ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      LOL!! That is too funny!!

  2. Michaela Avatar

    Happy Anniversary! This is a great list! It’s so important not to overlook the process and find ways to work together rather than getting in our own way and being stubborn about it!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Yes! I think being stubborn probably keeps most people from having a great relationship

  3. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your stories! Mr. FAF and I have been married for 4 years, and we do have some similar issues. We’re trying to reconcile our differences and work on our communication. It’s not easy, but we’re enjoying the process. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      It can be hard but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it

  4. Tiffany Avatar

    These are so helpful! I’ve been married 12 years and still need to practice a lot of these. What a great reminder to keep trying to make marriage better.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I’m glad these were helpful.

  5. Madison Avatar

    Think before you speak is SO true! Oftentimes we don’t think about how that can impact our relationship, but it does! Happy anniversary!

  6. Tanvi Rastogi Avatar

    My husband and I complete 10 years next month and I have similar lessons like yours. Time, perspective and communication is everything!

    โฅ tanvii.com

  7. Belle Avatar

    These are such great tips especially enjoying the year! We get so busy in our everyday lives that we often forgot to enjoy the times we have together! Such a great reminder!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Yes! We often spend too much time looking to the future, we don’t enjoy the now

  8. Candice Avatar

    These tips are so good! I too just posted some thoughts on marriage. My husband and I have been married for 19 years! It goes by so fast!!

  9. Sam @ A Happy Home In Holland Avatar

    Congratulations on reaching your 10-year anniversary. Time flies so quickly and it’s great to look back and see how you have changed and adapted to a life together. Here’s to the next 10 years! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Thank you so much!!

  10. Gloryanna Avatar

    Not being attached to symbolism is a GREAT point! And congrats on the time spent together!!

  11. Jacinta Avatar

    Aww so much wisdom in your sharing! I especially loved the part on defining the terms we use. It’s true, we can use different words and yet mean similar things. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      This was a big one for us. As soon as we understand what we were saying, it was easier

  12. Michelle Avatar

    I’m soon getting married and I loved reading this post. Congratulations on your anniversary!!


  13. Jessica Avatar

    Learn to Communicate!!! oh so important. I’ve actually yelled at the tv saying “TALK IT THROUGH”

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I yell and get frustrated with couples I see on tv as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. skstewart1220@hotmail.com Avatar

    wonderful lessons learned in your first year of marriage. I too learned to not sweat the small stuff, figure out what the words really meant and the biggest one of all, I learned about compromise ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      It can be hard but so worth it

  15. Christine Keys Avatar

    Communication is KEY! We’re 3 years in now with two small children and whenever communication is lacking is when things are bumpy.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Yes!! Communication is key!! All the time

  16. Jehava Avatar

    This is great and all so true. We just celebrated 12! Congrats!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Awesome!! Congrats

  17. Sue Avatar

    Hey! Love the new look of ur blog!!! And congrats on your anniversary. My husband and I are reaching ten years too! Plus we have three kids. Time flies. All glory to God.

  18. Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor Avatar

    Congratulations! My hubby and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage this January and I couldn’t believe how young we looked then either. One thing I learned our first year, was you should take as many opportunities to connect and vacations as you can. Becuase on the kids come those opportunities and vacation will be few and far in between.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That is so true!! I wish we would have taken advantage of that freedom more before kids.

  19. Micah | Home Faith Family Avatar

    I love these tips. Marriage is an adventure that, if both parties are willing to work and sacrifice for, brings some of the greatest joys in this life.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      You are so right!! Thank you for commenting

  20. Dani | Free Indeed Avatar

    I’ve learned all of these things as well from our first year (we are now finishing up on second)! The need to let go on certain preferences and issues is so key – and an opportunity to grow and learn new things. Love your stories that show the point in action!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I’m glad you liked it. Congrats on the first year!!

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