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.

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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. 
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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 

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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

How to make time for your marriage

How much time do you spend with your husband? Today I want to share with you how to make time for your marriage.

I know that for me, it never seems to be enough and I am always looking for ways to spend more time with my husband. 

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My younger years

When I was a teenager, I was attending a bible study with older married women. Some of the things they said, at the time, made no sense to me.

They said things about their marriage like:

  • We never spend any time together.
  • We never see each Other

It confused me because, at this point, I was dating and thought: How can two people who live in the same house never see each other?

I have now been married for ten years and completely understand.

Life is busy! Just being in the same living space does not make you close to one another.

It’s easy to let kids work, or even The Lord’s service gets you so busy you don’t have time or energy for your spouse.

If you neglect time with each other, soon enough you will become like roommates or just people who help each other raise the children.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew “People who spent quality time with their partner at least once a week were 3.5 times more likely to report being ‘very happy’ in their relationship compared to those who didn’t. Quality time can strengthen your relationship in several ways.”

The Right Type of Time

In over ten years of marriage I have discovered that it’s not the amount of time you spend together that matters, it’s the quality of the time you spend together that counts.

Quality time does not need to be some elaborate date or a rare experience. It can be at your kitchen table, or in the living room doing something you love.

During our busiest times in life, my husband and I will just sit at the kitchen table and drink tea together. This would maybe take 10-15 min, We just sit together at the table and talk about our days.

We discuss things that are coming up in our lives. Lately, we have taken more time to pray for each other, our children and the people we know.

Those times together have been the most special because we are having real and deep conversations. They sometimes don’t last long, but just spending those minutes together connects us in a meaningful way.

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4 ways to make time for your marriage  

1. Schedule a regular date

Once a year, my husband and I will sit down and think about the next year. We will talk about our commitments and everything we need to do.

We both understand that we each need family time, alone time, service time and guy/girl time and together time.

All these commitments are hard to juggle, but we make it work. We know that we won’t have time each week for all of those things. So, we schedule our days so that we can balance all these things.

One thing that we find important is having a regular date night. For us, that means that once a week we have no other commitments and it’s a  time for just the 2 of us. We often just stay in but it’s a night we can both count on having together.

2. Set a time

Maybe your schedule is insane or you have a hard time dedicating one night to date night. If that is the case, then consider having a set time each day when you can connect with each other.

For my husband and I, no matter what is going on in our days, we always try to call each other at lunch. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and we can’t talk so we will leave a message. I always look forward to a lunchtime call. It’s a great way to break up the day,  but to catch up on our day.

I am not a morning person, so my husband often leaves the house with only a kiss goodbye. Most days, our lunchtime phone call is the first time we have talked all day.

3. First things First

When my daughter was one my husband went back to school full-time. He was a dedicated student and was top of his class that year. That accomplishment took time.

But, no matter how much time he spent doing homework, he always spent time with us first.

He would spend all day at school, then come home and have dinner with us. After dinner, he would play with our daughter and put her to bed. After her bedtime, we would spend 10-15 min just chatting and then he would get to work.

I knew his schoolwork was important, but by spending time with me first, he showed me that I was more important and that he always had time for me.

Even now, my husband often will do work at home at night, but only after he has spent time with me first.

4. Say no

Your marriage should be at the top of your priority list. If your life is too busy with other things to have some regular quality time together, it may be time to reconsider everything you’re involved in.

My husband and I say no to many things to be able to have time with each other and with our kids. For us, our time together is more important so we regularly say no to many good things.  

Since our children are still small and we have to drive them we have decided to only do one extracurricular activity a week.

There are many good things that we could be doing or could be a part of. But for now, we have said no to many things so that we can focus on hanging a balanced life. One where we don’t hectic or overrun with responsibilities.

Each marriage is different so what may work for my husband and I may not work for you.

Some couples thrive on busy social lives. The most important thing to do is to make sure that what you are doing is strengthening your marriage.

In the comments below, share your tips on what you do to make time for your marriage. Please share this blog post with others. Thank you.

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5 Things parenting experts don’t tell you about discipline

If you are like me, you have spent hours searching the internet or reading books looking for advice on disciplining your children. In this post, I will share with you 5 things that parenting experts don’t tell you about discipline.

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When I had my first child, I had no clue what I was doing. I now have 3 kids and I still have many days when I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing 😉

One of the things I continually look for is advice on discipline. I want new strategies or tips to see if maybe I am missing something that will have my kids behave.

After doing extensive reading and going over lots of information, I have discovered that each piece I have read has had something missing. Everyone gives advice on the best way to discipline kids.

So, I have decided to fill in some of those blanks.

5 things that parenting experts don’t tell you about discipline

1. It may not work for you

One of the first things I realized that experts don’t tell you about discipline is that what may work for one may not work for the other.

Every child is different and one strategy that one parent shares may have zero impact on your own child.

If you even suggest that this strategy does not seem to be working for you then people will respond by telling you that you are obviously not doing it right and that you have no clue what you’re doing.

The truth is that your child may just not respond to a particular tactic.

2. It may work, but only a few times

Another frustrating that people don’t tell you about discipline is that the strategy you picked may not work all the time.

You have finally found something that works!!! Yeah!!!! A few weeks later, you use the same tactic you have been using for weeks and it no longer works.

This may be for a few reasons. The first is that young children grow in and out of stages very quickly. As they transition, how they react to certain strategies may change as well.

The second is that children are smart. They might have figured out what’s your doing and are no longer want to go along with what you’re trying to do.

3. It may work for this kid, but not the next

Your first child was easy. You got this parenting business down so you decide to have a second. You have a list of discipline strategies that worked like a dream for child 1 and think: I have no clue why people find this so hard.

Enter child #2!! You try and try and try, and nothing you do seems to work. You use the same strategies at the same stages and your child still does not toe the line. Why?? Well, your kids are not the same.

They won’t react the same way to a certain tactic as each other. You might have to find a whole new bag of strategies for each child you have.

4. Your child is too young for this strategy

I read parenting books and regularly think: wow, that would never fly for my 2-year-old. Or, I think: so what age is this strategy good for?

For some reason, books never suggest an age. It’s easy to read a book and think it’s a fantastic idea.

But then you try it out and realize that your child is not developed enough to understand what you’re trying to do.

Don’t throw the strategy out the door, just maybe put it on the shelf and try again when your child is older.

5. Time requirement

Training children takes time. When I say time, I don’t mean minutes or hours. I mean days, months and years.

There are some concepts that I have been working on with my children for years and they still don’t seem to understand. But don’t lose heart, because one day they do get it and it gets better.

In the comments below, share what parenting truths that you feel are left out of books.

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4 things I wish I knew before Marriage

I have been married for over 12 years and there are a few things I wish I knew before marriage.

In honour of that, I am writing a series of posts about marriage.

Last week, I focused mostly on the Lessons I learned in the first year of marriage.

Today, I want to look at what happens after year one.

In this post, I will share some of the struggles we faced over the years and 4 things I wish I knew before marriage. 

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Before I got married, most people would give general marriage advice and would give you warnings about the first year, but nobody actually told me what specific struggles they faced and how they overcame them.

So, I want to change that. 

5 things I wished I knew before Marriage

1. Hard times do come

I was told over and over that the first year of marriage was the hardest. So after having an easy first year, I was naive to think that things would only get easier.

But that’s not how things work.

Within weeks of our one year anniversary, we started being hit with some hard stuff.

It’s not that our marriage became harder, but that life started throwing things at us that we were not ready for.

It sort of felt like we were being hit over and over again for 4 years straight.

Some of the things we faced in those 4 years:

  • a miscarriage
  • Close mentor dying
  • Full-time school
  • First-time parents
  • Unemployment (2 different times)
  • Mental illness
  • Moving across the country
  • and I am sure there is more than that.

Even as I read this list, I ask myself how we lived through all that. I know there’s not much detail, but that’s for another time.

I just wish knew before marriage that we would face so many struggles. There might have been a way for me to be more prepared or not as naive as I was.

2. Enjoy today

Now that things are going better in our lives we have time to reflect on the past and just enjoy the days we have.

The past struggles have taught me that things can change at any time.

It’s not something that I fear, but something that reminds me to enjoy each day.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:1‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I wish I knew before marriage how to enjoy the moment. We spent too much time focussing on what we did not have and what I wanted. I forgot to enjoy the present and to enjoy each small moment.

3. It’s ok to ask for help

My husband was diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder in the fall of 2011.

He has been dealing with anxiety since he was at least 9 but did not know what it was until 2011.

Before his diagnosis, we had no clue what was wrong.

I could tell that something was off and that he was struggling with something.

I could just not put my finger on it.

When I asked him how he was feeling or what he was feeling, he didn’t know how to tell me what was going on.

We did not have the vocabulary or the knowledge to know what was going on.

His anxiety also kept him from sharing with me what was going on.

In his anxiety, he feared that I would leave him and stop loving him if he told me what was on his mind.

During this time, I felt extremely alone.

I knew my husband was struggling but felt like telling anyone about it would be showing him in a negative light and speaking badly about him and it made me feel disloyal.

These were all lies! 

I wish I knew before marriage that I could ask for help without making my husband look bad.

Had I known what we were dealing with, I would have fund help so much earlier.

4. It’s ok to Share Your struggles

I want you to know that it’s ok to share your struggles and your pain.

We don’t have to tell everyone and we certainly don’t even have to share details.

But, we do have to learn ways to communicate with others that make us feel safe without feeling like we are throwing our spouse under the bus.

As Christians, it ok to struggle! It’s even normal.

We need to do a better job to show others that we sometimes lack faith, wisdom, patience, and love.

If this had been the Christian culture we had grown up with, we might have spent less time feeling ashamed and more time getting help.

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5. The hard times bring blessings

As much as I was not ready for the struggles, I was not ready for the blessings that would come out of it.

“And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I knew these verses and knew what they meant but had not really seen the truth of these verses for myself.

As ridiculous as those 4 years were, we would not give them back. If it was up to me, we would have skipped them completely.

But The Lord used those years. He redeemed them for good.

Not only did these times grow character in me, but also in my husband.

We both grew in our faith.

The best thing to come out of all of it was God giving us peace about us sharing our story.

We had never had real discussions about mental health before. We had no clue what it looked like. It was not until a friend (who had experienced mental health in the past) saw the signs and intervened that Greg got help.

So now, we are very open about Greg’s health, his struggle, and how God has helped us through it.

With our openness, we (mostly Greg) have been able to help and bless many others in their mental health struggle.

What advice would you give?

If I was able to go back in time, I am sure I would read this blog post and still not really be ready for what was to come.

Sometimes, no matter how many times someone tells you something, it’s not until you walk through it that you can understand.

The best thing we ever did was to pray for our marriage. If you need some guidance on what to pray for your marriage, click here to get 30 scriptures you can pray for your marriage.

In the comments below, share what marriage advice would you give to your younger self?

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4 things I wish I knew before Marriage

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