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. Stephanie ReadsWell Avatar

    These lessons are so accurate.I can relate them with mine. My first year of marriage is memorable. It was a learning curve.

  2. Sydney Meek Avatar
    Sydney Meek

    Congratulations! You are so right and so wise. My husband and I are coming up on our first anniversary, and needless to say, we are still learning how to communicate well LOL. But you are spot on for all of these. One of my biggest lessons has been PATIENCE with everything! And I love that you included to enjoy your freedoms, because you’re absolutely right. Being young newlyweds we are still able to live a young lifestyle, go out dancing late at night, before we “grow up,” have more responsibilities, and kids! Thank you for your post.

    Sydney Meek | meeklyloving.wordpress.com

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Congrats on the one year!

  3. Eryn Avatar

    What a great post! My husband and I just celebrated 4 years and I can’t believe how much we’ve changed. It is amazing the things you learn in the first year of marriage, the arguments or disagreements that you get over. And, the things you still struggle with years later.

    The “Let it Go” part is really hard for me. I am a control freak and giving up control is so difficult sometimes. You’re absolutely right that it is better to let those things go and worry about other, more important things in life. One thing my mom always said that I like to remember is “I won’t complain about the way something is done around the house. I’m just grateful someone is there to help me. Everything else is just preference.”

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I find that attitude is the best and most useful in marriage

  4. Lo @ Mrs. Lo Tanner Avatar

    Learn to communicate is a good one!! Effectively communicating is a challenge for many couples. Learning how to do that from the go is a game changer.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Effectively communicate! Yes! It’s good to remember that communication can change over time as well and something that works early on in marriage may not work latter

  5. Sheila Qualls Avatar

    Great tips! I wish I had someone to tell them to me early in my marriage. We had to learn the hard way. LOL!!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That is why I am writing this series. I hope it helps many couples from making these mistakes. Please share

  6. Devon Avatar

    These are great tips! My hubby and I just celebrated our 13 year anniversary. Let it go and communicate are the best pieces of advice we have used.

  7. M Avatar

    I love your final remark ‘enjoy the year’ Our first year was chaos. We moved unexpectedly to our now home, change in jobs, starting and continuing in ministries in our churches and learning family boundaries. I am so glad things are finally smoothing out we are almost at year two!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I wish I had stopped to enjoy our first year together. It went by so fast and we have not had a year like it since.

  8. Karen Friday Avatar

    Another good read, Anne. We’ve been married for 32 years and I write about marriage often. Loved your points especially to think before you speak. Oh, my! Wouldn’t that save us a lot of heartache. Blessings!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I agree! Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. Amaris Avatar

    Totally agree. Especially on the “let it go” part. I often tell myself when I get bothered with my husband to think of it in the grand scheme of things. When I have a larger perspective outside of myself it’s easier for me to let things go.
    I pray this post reaches those in their first year of their marriage and they can apply these truths.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Thank you so much! Things are easier to let go of when we can have a better perspective.

  10. D at Be you and thrive Avatar

    All wonderful tools to have a healthy and happy marriage!

  11. Tracy Avatar

    Happy Anniversary! What a great way to encourage others in their new marriage by sharing the tips of a successful marriage. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Thank you so much!!

  12. Angela @ Dust Bunnies and Tabby Tales Avatar

    I’ve been married for 20 years and these tips are spot on! It takes a lot of working together to make things work. Great post!

  13. Amanda Rinehart Avatar

    Marriage in a never ending work in progress isn’t it? My husband and I have been together for 9.5 years (although only married for 3.5.) And it truly just is never finished, never perfect, always changing… just the way I like it. 🙂

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      During our marriage counselling one thing that came out was that marriage is like school, you start in kindergarten and work your way up. I like that picture.

  14. Amy White Avatar

    Love it! I had to learn the let it go lesson as well. I personally believe it is one of the best ways to keep your marriage strong. Just because you spouse does something different doesn’t make it wrong. I’m just glad I learned that lesson early.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Yes! For me it was good training for when my kids started doing things differently as well.

  15. Doreen Avatar

    This is my second marriage. We just celebrated 6 years. Time goes so fast. Letting go with the way you think things should be done is a big one. I can’t stand the way my husband loads the dishwasher. I know, sounds crazy, but, I just can’t stand it. It makes no sense, he could fit so much more in. So… I’d rather do it myself than let him do it. LOL He does it when I have no choice but to let him. I don’t care how he does the laundry or how he folds the clothes. Anything else is fine, I have a severe issue with the darn dishwasher. LMAO

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      It’s funny the things that drive us nuts.

  16. Julie @ shortsandlongs Avatar

    Great advice, Anne. And congratulations on 10 years!!

  17. Rosanna@ExtraordinaryEverydayMom Avatar

    Happy Anniversary! My husband and I celebrate our 15th! anniversary tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. If you think you look like babies, I was 20 when my hubby and I got married-definitely a baby. I too have learned many of the same things that you have. I’m still working on the “Let it go” though. 🙂

  18. Bailey Avatar

    Such good tips! I also lost my little herb garden a few weeks after getting married.

  19. Summer @ Coffee With Summer Avatar

    Anne, you’re spot on. I loved reading this. My husband and I’s 2nd anniversary is this upcoming Monday. I can’t believe 2 years have gone by! Marriage is such a beautiful, stretching thing. It’s definitely growing me like nothing else. Marriage is truly the greatest sanctification tool! 🙂

  20. Rita Avatar

    Very well written, vital points, we have been married 12 years, and I have had to learn so so much..!!! It has not been easy due to very different personalities but you know, God gave us beauty for ashes, gave us new joy, new love, I believe all because of just talking to the Lord through it all, He gave me insight and I understand more. thank you for sharing, you shared all the crucial points and also I liked that about not being attached to symbolism, (I was like that before we got married!!)

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