10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage
all photography by Kati Hewitt Photography

WOW that went by in the blink of an eye. I feel like just yesterday I was alone at our venue, sitting in the dressing room and asking God to prepare me for the role I was about to take on. It’s still weird to me that people call me “Mrs. Meek” and that I’m “somebody’s wife,” but I’m sure I’ll get used to it 😉 .

The first year of marriage was all about learning and catching a glimpse of what the rest of our lives will look like; what habits we have, how we manage our money, who makes breakfast, etc. We’re continually building the foundation for the rest of our marriage.

Since our anniversary was last week, I’m going to go ahead and take advantage of this opportunity to share some of our wedding photos again, and I’m not too sorry about it 🙂 .

Six months ago I wrote a blog post about the things I had learned in those first few months of marriage, and while I am still learning and working on those things, I’ve learned even more since then and I’m here to share it with y’all!

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 1 } LET SOME THINGS GO 

(Side note – five seconds after this picture was taken, my eye had an accidental encounter with a piece of cake… on a fork… in my husband’s hand. I was upset for a split second because I wanted everything about our wedding to be perfect, so I gave him “the look,” but then quickly became filled with grace and snapped out of it.)

My husband likes to “save things for later” instead of getting them over with now – like dishes (eye roll, I know). He and his college roommates used to pile up all their dirty dishes in the sink, and at the end of the day, whoever’s turn it was, that person would clean all of them. I, on the other hand, have the phrase “if you’re done with it, put it up” hammered into my brain (hmm… thanks mom), so I like to clean my dishes off and put everything away as soon as I get done eating.

A few tiffs have come up because of this, but I’ve learned that it’s best to just let the small things go and pick your battles. What we’ve found that works for us is to settle on a compromise, then trust that the other will stay true to their word and act on it to meet in the middle. However, we can’t just say we’ll “let it go,” but we have to truly forgive whatever happened and forget about it, otherwise we’ll end up with little foxes in our vineyard.

Instead, we should turn our focus to what truly matters – that we have entered a holy covenant with The Lord, and our marriage should be a representation of the relationship we have with Him. God created both of us for one another so that we could work together to further His Kingdom, not to argue about dishes.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 2 } WE CAN’T READ EACH OTHER’S MIND

You would think since we’ve “become one” we should have one mind and have the ability to know what the other is thinking all the time, but that’s not the case.

I speak pink and he speaks blue, but our goal is to find a happy purple in order to understand each other clearly. Learning to communicate is KEY, and assuming is not. Sometimes I’ll say something and mean the exact opposite (which is what every woman does, right?), but I assume that he knows that I want him to do what I’m not telling him.

Another thing we tend to assume and really shouldn’t is each other’s intentions behind actions. I’ll assume he said X or did Y because of Z, but it could actually be because of any other letter in the alphabet. The only way for me to find out his intention is to ask “why?” instead of getting annoyed because I can’t read his mind. Once one of us gets annoyed, the conversation goes downhill and turns into an unnecessary argument (trust me, we’ve gone down this road many times).

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19

We’ve learned that PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE and if we become quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, maybe we will understand the other more clearly (or quicker than an argument could arise).

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 3 } HE THINKS ABOUT NOTHING

He has times where he literally has absolutely NOTHING on his mind. (WHAT?!)

Seriously, I walked in on him a few months ago, and he was sitting on our couch backwards, staring at the blank wall. I asked him if he was okay a few times, thinking he was mad at me because I did something wrong, but he told me he was thinking about nothing. I then thought he was trying to hide something from me, because if he asked me what I was thinking and I said nothing, that would be an absolute lie, and I would probably be trying to avoid talking about whatever the issue was; but nope he’s 100% telling the truth. I don’t understand it at all.

I read an article a while back about how women’s minds are all intertwined and connected and are always thinking about 1,000 things, and men compartmentalize their brains and are able to focus on one thing really well (and that one thing may be nothing). It actually drives me nuts that he’s capable of doing that.

I don’t have a bible verse for this one, it’s just weird.

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{4 } THERE’S NO “I” IN TEAM

While we were on our anniversary trip my husband asked me what my favorite part about being married was, and I told him it was that he’ll always be my cheerleader. Whether I fail or succeed at anything, he is always there to encourage me or pick me up; and I strive to do the same for him. He’s my biggest fan and I know he will have my back no matter what.

I’ve also realized that every decision I make affects someone else, so all of “my” decisions have become “our” decisions. Being on a team requires us to think less about ourselves and more about each other, because all of my successes or failures are now his, and all of his are now mine. The beauty is that we get to experience them together. We get to make memories, learn from experiences, build each other up and cheer each other on TOGETHER.

This also applies when we’re annoyed with each other! Sometimes I’ll be stubborn and try to do something on my own without asking him for help – like hanging something heavy on the wall – but he usually notices me struggling and helps anyways (thank you, Lord because I could not do it myself!)

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 5 } PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL

I like to view marriage as a triangle – the husband and wife are the bottom two points and The Lord is the top one. As the two bottom points move closer to the top, they inevitably become closer to each other. In other words, the closer my husband and I grow toward God, the closer we will grow toward each other, making it easier to stay in sync and do life together.

Putting our marriage in God’s hands requires a whole lotta prayer. We must pray together and individually; for our marriage as well as for each other and our personal relationships with Jesus. As God hears our prayers, we gradually make our way up the triangle, both closer to Him and to each other.

Creating a habit of praying for and with each other brings patience and grace. It’s easy to become impatient or annoyed, but if my husband or I feel that we’ve become stuck in a rut of either of these, we reevaluate if we’ve been putting God first (and usually the answer is no). The enemy will do everything he can to tear our relationships with Jesus AND our marriage apart, but there is power in prayer!

“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.” – 1 John 5:14

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him…” – Psalm 145:18

“Pray continually,” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 6 } I’M MORE IN-TUNE WITH MY THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS

I’ve never had to explain my thoughts and emotions so much to someone before, so this has been an interesting lesson to learn. In the beginning of our marriage, my husband’s attempt to get to know me better was done by asking the questions, “well why do you think that?” or “why do you feel that way?” after almost everything I said. Nine times out of ten I would respond with, “I don’t know,” as an excuse to avoid digging deep to find the true reason for why I was thinking or feeling those ways, but sometimes I honestly didn’t know. Then he began following up with the question, “do you really not know?” which made me frustrated but also finally got me digging.

As I mentioned earlier, he can’t read my mind. Once I eventually realized that, I was better able to explain how I felt, why I felt that way, why I thought certain things, and I could finally give him an honest and genuine explanation of how he could love me better. I had to be able to read my own self in order to let him know what I needed from him. Even though marriage has turned our focus toward working together, we still need to put time and effort into working on ourselves. We’re both sinners, we both need grace, and we could both become a little bit more like Jesus.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

“Therefore be imitators of God…” – Ephesians 5:1

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 7 } LOVING SOMEONE CAN BE HARD

On the days when one of us is being a butt for no reason or just can’t seem to do or say anything right – yeah, those days make it tough to love. It’s kind of funny because sometimes one of us will say, “I love you” under their breath, and it’s as if the other is obligated to say it back but doesn’t really want to in that moment, so it’s kind of like, “I love you, but I really don’t like you right now.”

Intentionally loving someone is hard work, though. It takes extra effort to be patient or forgive someone when you’re really not feeling it. It takes extra effort to be in a good mood for your husband when he gets off work and you’ve had the worst day. It takes extra effort to find time to plan a fun date night in the middle of the week. There will always be easy ways out, but when we choose to love one another our marriage becomes stronger.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Something I’ve always heard is to replace the word “love” in those verses with your own name. How easy does that sound?

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 8 } HE NEEDS ME TO SPEAK HIS LOVE LANGUAGE

The Five Love Languages is a book and concept created by Gary Chapman (that I admit I haven’t read yet, but it’s on my list!) explaining that we all receive and express love in five different “languages”: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

One of my love languages is acts of service, so I always try to make sure the house is clean and that I run any errands to get them out of my husband’s way before he gets home from work. Don’t get me wrong, he really appreciates it, but there came a point where I realized that I wasn’t loving him in his own language. We tend to naturally give love in the same way we’d like to receive it, and that’s exactly what I was doing. If I don’t meet his need for love in his language, he may end up feeling unappreciated or neglected, which can cause serious problems. We’ve realized that the most effective way for us to love one another is to speak the other’s language.

“…but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8


10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 9 } IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP

Because we’re human, sometimes we can get caught up in our own little world. This can make it difficult to think straight when conflict arises or a big decision needs to be made – especially as newlyweds. We become too focused on our own plans that we forget who our Navigator is.

It’s pretty humbling to ask someone for a biblically backed opinion, because that’s when we figure out how selfish we are being. We realize that our own desires aren’t nearly as important as what God has planned for us. Having a solid, trustworthy source to go to can be extremely helpful, because they provide us with an outside perspective and direct us toward scripture.

Since we’re new to the married life, we obviously don’t have it all figured out. That’s why seeking counsel from couples that have been in our shoes is valuable to us; and although we may want to work things out on our own, sometimes we need a third party to hold us accountable and encourage us through each stage of life.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:20-21

 

10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

{ 10 } I’M NOT A PERFECT WIFE

I will never be. I have to remind myself of this every day, because our world seems to have unreachable standards for everything now. I see other wives on social media and compare myself to them (or the side of them that they post online), blindly building expectations for myself that I know I will never measure up to. I get caught up in the lies that I need to be this perfect wife who has everything together, but I don’t.

As I read through Proverbs 31 in the venue dressing room the morning of our wedding, I could only hope and pray the God would make me at least half the woman that the lady in those verses was, but do you want to know something? She doesn’t even exist! Yeah, King Lemuel was actually recounting advice his mother had given him about the kind of woman he should seek – a woman who is kind, wise, generous, works vigorously and fears The Lord. I’ve met many ladies whom I look up to that have similar qualities to this “proverbs woman,” but none have surpassed them all because no one’s perfect. The qualities she encompasses are ones that wives should STRIVE toward, not reasons for us to be tearing ourselves down.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:31

 

In reality, our marriage isn’t perfect either. We’re going to argue, we’re going to be selfish, and we’re going to push each other’s buttons, but with the grace of God, we will always be growing and learning how to reflect Christ and His love for us. God adores us in our brokenness, so we have to trust that He will use our flawed, imperfect marriage as a vessel to build His Kingdom.

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34 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned My First Year of Marriage

  1. Such important topics! Excellent tips. Praying together is hard for my husband as a new Christian. He is not comfortable with praying aloud or in a group. I’m hoping to be together in some kind of Bible study so he can learn to get more at ease with it!

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  2. This was so beautifully written. I have been married ten years and all are still struggles. When I focus on all of them hand in hand with God it works!

    Thank you

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  3. So true…we are in this life and we are blessed with all what is surrounding us only because of God!!!
    In His arms, we should let our lives and…be grateful for what He gives us!!!
    Life is His priceless gift for us!!

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  4. All those thoughts indicate you are well on your way into growing as a couple. After you get married, you begin to understand that marriage requires maturity in a way that singleness never could. Nice post.

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  5. My husband and I have been married for 18 years and all of this is still true today! You’re a beautiful couple and I pray God blesses you and your husband with many more years of marriage!

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  6. We’re in our 70s, married 29 years & still learning. All of what you’ve written is excellent and necessary.
    I’ve also learned that being child-like, not child-ish, goes a long way, meaning humor deflects negative feelings. Such as, using a soapy sponge to bonk on the head (at appropriate times ) can cleanse away the grouches! ☺

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  7. Beautiful post! I am also coming up on my 1 year anniversary and it does go by so fast! I had to laugh about the part when you said that guys think about nothing. Because it’s true I don’t understand how my husband can have nothing on his mind at times, because my mind is either flying at 1000 mph, or resting at 100 mph (lol there is no inbetween;)

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  8. Sydney, this is great. It’s so important to communicate with each other, above all else. Those first few years are the toughest. After 10 years together and 8 married, my husband and I haven’t had a fight in years. We’ve gotten very in touch with each other’s needs.It gets easier every year.

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  9. This is a wonderful post! These are great reminders for me (we are about to celebrate our four-year anniversary). I just read another post this morning (on Living Free Indeed) about marriage and my favorite quote was “Marriage is not about finding your true love, but being true love.”

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  10. I can t I can tell you are being extremely intentional with your marriage which is excellent. Every year you will learn more and more. I just finished revising my post wha I just finished revising my post on marriage advice I wished I had ten years ago. And many of them are similar to your list. Keep growing and walking in faith!

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