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. 
www.onedeterminedlife

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

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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9 ways to reduce arguments with kids 

If your house is like mine, there are always arguments going on. I don’t like arguments and I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of fighting in our house. Today, I am going to share with you 9 ways to reduce arguments with kids.

In our house, most of the arguments are between my kids. But more often than not, the arguments are between me and my child. And if you are like me, then you like to win those arguments.

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Sometimes I feel like I am picking the battle just to win so I can show that I can. This makes for a more hostile house and something I desperately want to change.

I came to this realization a few weeks ago after an encounter with my eldest daughter.

The conversation went a bit like this: 

Me: come here

Child: What?

Me: COME HERE!

Child: WHAT?
Me: COME HERE!!!!!!!!!

My child finally comes into the room
Me: I want you to come the first time I call you!

Child: I could not hear you!

Me: then why did you say what? You should come to me when you heard me!

What happened next

At this point, I forgot why I wanted to talk to her and instead spent the time giving her a consequence for not obeying me when I first called and for giving me attitude when she did eventually come.

After this incident, I had time to reflect on the scene. It was not the first time this had happened and I knew that it would keep happening… Unless I changed something.

Why was it so important that she come to me? 

After much reflection, I realized that I wanted her to come to me because I was lazy. My frustration did not stem from wanting her to obey. It came because I actually had to move and get up and do something about what was going on. I had been lying down in bed and I did not want to get up. My laziness factor had kicked in and I wanted her obedience to trump my unwillingness to move.

My selfishness became so evident to me. I could have avoided this whole scene had I not been so lazy.

The argument got me thinking about ways I could reduce the arguments in the house. So here are my 9 ways I can reduce arguments with my child.

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9 ways to reduce arguments with your kids

1. Seek Them out

The best way to reduce arguments with kids is to seek out my child. When I want to talk to my child, instead of calling to her over and over, I will call her once and if she can’t hear me I will get up and go find her. When I find her, I will then talk to her.

2. Give direction 

Sometimes I ask my kids to do something and they don’t actually understand what I want them to do. They do their best to obey, but I end up frustrated because the end result was not what I had originally wanted.

One way to decrease misunderstanding is to make sure my child understands exactly what I want by giving clear directions.

3. Set the Tone

I find that if I am upset or frustrated, my children mirror that back to me. To reduce the tension in the house, I need to be an example of how I want my children to speak.

If I speak politely to them in my frustration, they will learn (eventually) that they can also be frustrated but still speak without yelling.

4. Change the mood

When my kids are driving me crazy, it’s easy to turn around and snap at them or become frustrated with them. One way I keep from blowing up is by changing my mood.

Instead of yelling, I put some music on and dance or tickle them. These things make us smile and laugh and I tend to forget why I was mad.

5. Ask the child to repeat

When I ask my children to do something, I ask them to repeat what I said. By doing so, we both understand what is expected and it helps clarify any misunderstandings.

If my child can’t repeat what I said, then they won’t be able to do what I asked. When they know what to do and what is expected, they are more likely to do it.

6. Pray

The fastest way for me to calm down is to pray. I pray for patience and understanding. I pray for wisdom and grace. Every moment with my children I am afraid that what comes out of my mouth will scar them for life.

By taking a moment and praying, I usually keep myself from saying something I regret or using a tone I did not mean.

7. Let it go

I oftentimes forget that my kids are small and don’t understand the world like I do. I usually expect them to have my standards. Once I remember that they are small, I lower my standards and let some things slide.

For example:

Last week as I was cleaning the bathroom I found candy wrappers on the floor. I suspected that my eldest daughter had found some candy and eaten it without permission.

She knows the rules: you can’t eat anything without asking Mom first. She also knows that candy is a treat and is only eaten on special occasions.

Lately, she has been breaking a lot of rules and being sneaky. I have spent countless of hours going over proper behaviour and punishing her for disobeying.

I could have easily found her, asked her a question and given her a consequence. This time, I chose to let it go. I had no real evidence that she was the one to eat the candy.

This may be an unpopular opinion but, I think it’s ok for kids to get away with a thing or 2. Since I am addressing the larger issues on a regular basis, catching every act will only drive her further away.

8. Give them grace

One of the things that I love most about God is His grace towards us. He regularly does not give us the punishment we need. He regularly does not show His anger and frustration towards us.

My task as a parent is to show my children God’s character. One of the ways to do that is to be like God and to show grace. When my children disobey, I sometimes will choose to not give them the punishment they deserve.

9. Pick your battles 

The last thing we can do to reduce arguments with kids is to pick our battle. Some fights are not worth the effort you put in. For me to win an argument with my daughter, it takes so much energy and time. Sometimes, that energy and time is not productive and would best be spent focused on other things.

For example, I let my youngest choose if she wants to get dressed or stay in her pj’s. She is 4 and does not go to school. On days we stay home, there is no reason for her to get dressed. So, if she does not want to, fighting her about it does not seem to be worth the effort for me.

I am often the reason that I get into arguments with my kids. I a. Either lazy, tired or just done with the day. But if I step back for just a moment, I realize that I can sometimes diffuse the circumstances by using some of these strategies.

In the comments below, share how you decrease arguments with your children. Please share this post with others. Thank you.

One thing to do to have a better relationship with my child

Over the last 10 years, I have tried very hard to have a good relationship with my children. But, as I reflect, I realised that there was one thing I could do to have a better relationship with my child.

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What was holding me back

If you’re like me, you love to have control over things in your life. One of the things I love having control over is my children’s behaviour and the choices they make.

I want my children to choose the things that I would choose. Mainly, I want them to obey me and do as they are told.

I like total and complete obedience. I want my kids to obey me right away with no argument.
After having many confrontations with my daughter, I realised that having this expectation of my children made things more stressful around the house.

My focus was on complete obedience and not on my relationship with my child. I had to learn to let go of some control.

But I have learned that this mindset does not lead to a better relationship with my child.

When I stepped back, I realised that I was not happy trying to control my child’s behaviour.

Since I stopped trying to control the outcome, it has helped me in disciplining my children and has given me a better relationship with my child.

My children are strong and independent and have minds of their own. That means that when I have an idea, they don’t always agree with me and always seem to have a ”better” way or another plan.

Before I started letting go, I found myself in a constant battle with my kids. It was exhausting.

So I had to decide that having a good relationship with my kids was more important to me than having control over the outcome or the situation.

One thing to do to have a better relationship with my child

1. I had to change my thought process.

To help me change my thought process, I tried to incorporate these 2 things:

  1. why do you want it done this way? Is it really that important?
  2. my child maybe 7, but maybe her way is better and we could do it that way.

To change my behaviour, I had to change my thought process.

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My motivation:

This first thing I had to do was analyse my motivation. Why was it so important that they I had to have this done my way?

After some soul searching, I realised that I wanted to feel control over the outcome. I was afraid that if I did not have absolute obedience right away then I was not a good “Christian” mom.

Leaving room for my child to question me made me feel like I was letting her rule the house. I was letting my fear dictate my behaviour.

My realization

The next time my daughter questioned me or did not respond to me as I wanted, I actually listened.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT MY CHILD HAS ABSOLUTE CONTROL OR THAT SHE RULES THE HOUSE … But it does mean that I have become a bit more flexible. Let me give you an example.

I say something like: Please set the table. She responds: I am just finishing drawing a picture!

I have 2 choices

  • Get mad that I was not absolutely obeyed on the spot.
  • Let my child finish her task and have her come when she is done.

This way, my child has no choice in the task I am asking her to complete, but there is a choice of when she can do it. She has some flexibility.

This may seem like a simple example. But there were dozens of these small moments during the day. I wanted something done a certain way and would get frustrated when it was not done to my standard.

By letting go of some control and giving my child more flexibility greatly reduced the amount of time I spend reprimanding her. Not only that, but it gave her confidence that she does have good ideas, that I hear her, and that her opinion matters to me.

I find that by giving her that flexibility has also made her more willing to obey and has also resulted in her doing things around the house without me asking.

In the comments below, share how control affects your relationships. Please share this post with others. Thank you.

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