5 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Marriage

5 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Marriage


I can’t believe that I have been married for over one year.

As someone who thought I was destined to become a crazy dog-lady, I am happy to be sharing my life with my husband and now our child together.  Time flies by especially when you’re having fun (or sleep deprived, I can’t tell which one it is).  There are many lessons I learned about myself and about our marriage (and what works for a marriage) over the past year.  There are also so many memories that I won’t forget (like when the OB placed our firstborn child on my chest).  There are also memories that I look forward to create.

Here are five lessons I learned in my first year of marriage.


you grew up differently so gentle reminders are important

Seriously one of the things that I had to keep reminding my husband is about recycling.  I think he has selective hearing about this or is just completely confused with the whole thing.  He grew up not recycling and I grew up recycling.  I was Ms. Greenpeace in my graduation yearbook and I love making sure paper is recycled, toilet paper rolls are recycled, cartons are recycled, and food is composted.  I kept (keep) finding toilet paper rolls in the garbage can, see cans in the garbage can, and plastic in the compost.  It’s not a big deal, I just tell him and put the toilet paper roll in the recycling bin.  And then see another toilet paper roll in the garbage can a few weeks later.  I think I have seen a toilet paper roll in the garbage can about 10 times in the past year, haha!

I give a gentle reminder to myself that my husband didn’t grow up recycling.  Each of those 10 times I found a toilet paper roll in the garbage.

you’ll need to talk about finances

Whether as a couple you decide to do a joint account and separate individual accounts, or completely amalgamate everything together, or keep things completely separate, you’ll need to talk about your finances.  Especially if there’s income inequality within your relationship to avoid the big “R” from creeping in (resentment).

You’re one year in towards building a life together, your goals will ultimately manifest as your money goals.  Especially if that means both of you want to make the recipe for FIRE.

Like for example, setting up an RESP for your baby.  Or whether you want to move to a 2 bedroom or try and make the 1 bedroom apartment work for a family of three.

If you do joint finances, what is considered joint?  My husband and I discussed that things we use together are considered joint.  But for almost a year, I was paying for the Netflix (I had Netflix before we got married) and yet watched it the least.  Now, I wasn’t getting resentful because it really was only $9.99, but a short discussion changed it to a joint expense.  My husband is watching Netflix as I write this.

you’ll keep reminsicing about your wedding

We got married in Hawaii and it was a great wedding.  It was quite the organization challenge to plan the wedding from the mainland of North America, but it turned out great and we have fantastic memories about our wedding day, and the days surrounding our wedding.  Of course, if we spent too much I don’t think we will have as fond memories- we were very happy with our small guest list (50 people) and our very manageable budget.  I’m glad we got a professional photographer rather than his friend who ‘takes great photos’ and I’m glad we chose his suggestion of a venue rather than my initial suggestion.

See?  Compromise in action, even before marriage!

you might go to bed angry but it will be okay (as long as you talk about it eventually)

One of the suggestions in our wedding guest book (we asked our guests to give some marriage and family advice) was to ‘never go to bed angry’.  I admit, there were some nights that we went to bed angry.

As I stewed, not being able to fall asleep, I would think that our marriage was doomed because we went to bed angry and we were going against this sage, ingrained, “perfect-marriage” advice.

Sure, it didn’t feel very good to go to bed angry, but then we talked about it the next day when we were both in a better state of mind.

having a kid changes everything

I can’t stress this enough.  Having a kid changes everything!  Having a solid relationship foundation, I would say, is very important to a solid relationship when you have a newborn.  Sleep deprivation changes you, makes you irritable for no reason, and both HANGRY and angry.

Some days you might feel like ships passing through the night, when the only meaningful conversation between the two of you is “did you change the diaper?  Do you think he’s getting a diaper rash?”

You will both be in survival mode, and survival mode usually means people are not feeling their best, which means irritability if there’s no coffee or caffeine on the premises.  Out of the newborn fog, after the first few weeks, your relationship will improve and you will be able to have meals together again… sometimes (thank goodness for the play gym where a baby can entertain himself or herself while mom and dad eat).  Other times, you will tell your partner to eat first while you feed the baby, and return to a cold dish, only to eat it as fast as you can because the baby is fussing again.

Sometimes I think new-parenting is basically eating cold meals and eating it as fast as you can.

Not everything is irritability and survival mode though- the amazement you both feel that you have this beautiful child in front of you is, without sounding cliche, a miracle.

Readers, do you have any lessons you learned in your first year of marriage/ parenting/ living together? 

5 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Marriage

About genymoney

GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle.

34 comments on “5 Lessons Learned in My First Year of Marriage

  1. Having a kid does change everything. The priority is shifted. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs, probably one of the rewarding ones, as well. We don’t have the option to quit or change to a different job. This is a lifetime job.

    Congratulations on your one-year anniversary!

    • @Helen- Totally! It’s so tough!! We are rewarded with smiles right now but I’m sure the rewards will be even bigger as we continue to DRIP our time and energy investment for our baby lol! Thanks, it was a few months ago and we had a great anniversary.

    • @Angela- I can see why you hear of married couples who break up within the first year of marriage after having a baby! It’s very different indeed! Good to know things get easier, things are already pretty good given that we have a baby in our first year but there’s always room for improvement.

    • @Caroline- Thank you Caroline! Yes, it must be very different! I have a friend who is in her 50’s who recently divorced and she has two kids, dating is no picnic for her though she’s with someone who’s never had kids. I think once you have kids you have a very different perspective on things!

  2. Thanks for writing this up! Congrats on making it through the first year. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I end up having a kid in the first year of marriage. I would like to wait and really get to know my partner first. BUT that’s awhile down the road so I’m not worrying about it now!

    • @Gwen- Thanks for visiting! You never know, things can happen pretty quickly once you’ve found the right partner and you know what you want 🙂 Though I’m in my 30’s and he in his 40’s so we didn’t want to wait too long.

  3. Oh man, I relate to your first point so much.

    Gentle reminders to your partner about things that both you, and to yourself that you do annoying things too – is so important.

    I agree with the ‘not going to bed when you’re angry’ piece of advice not being 100% legit too – sometimes my boyfriend and I are in such better headspaces to talk through problems after a good night’s sleep.

    Congrats on your one year anniversary by the way! 🙂

    • @Yaz- Me too! It’s amazing how your thought processes are so different after a night’s sleep. Usually I’m not mad the next day and I forget why I was upset in the first place. Thank you 🙂

  4. Hi GYM,

    I think it gets better the longer you are married and the children get easier as they get older. It is worth the energy/lack of sleep you have to put in .

    Congratulations on your one-year anniversary!

    • @Steve- Okay good to know! It feels like I am running a mini-12 hour marathon every day now. Non stop, until baby goes to bed!

  5. GYM,
    I agree with Steve’s comment that marriage gets better with time. Please don’t tell my wife, but our first year or so of marriage were my least favorites. It was just a hard transition from being single and completely independent. Every year since, of our 19 years of wedlock seem to get better and better. We are both pretty independent, but both of us would admit we would be lost without the other. Here’s to many more years GYM!
    Tom @ Dividends Diversify recently posted…I’ve Heard Smoking Used To Be CoolMy Profile

    • @Tom- Awe that’s so sweet!! I look forward to 20+ more years! Congratulations on 19+ years of marriage- you’ll have to tell me the secret sometime.

  6. Time really does fly!! Congrats on your first year!

    When I read the part about recycling, I felt like you’re how my fiancé is. He makes sure that everything is in the right bin. I think I grew up differently where my parents don’t think about that…

    the other day I was at my parents’ and I was throwing paper into the paper recycling bin, but my Dad got mad at me and said to put it in the garbage. I was thinking “why would I throw paper into the garbage??”

    I think I realized that I started picking up those good habits of making sure things are placed into the proper bins after living with my fiancé for a few years. LOL thinking back… I think I used to put almost everything (except for bottles.. that of course in the recycle) in the garbage when I lived with my parents.

    And I can imagine that kids can make your relationship more at ease. If there’s one thing I learned, they say to never get mad at each other in front of kids. They say to fake it even when both of you feel like killin’ each other 😰 but of course, everything becomes fine again the next morning…
    fin$avvy panda @ finsavvypanda.com recently posted…How To Save (and Spend) Money The Smart WayMy Profile

    • @fin$avvy panda- Haha! Yes, my husband’s family did not grow up recycling at all. He’s getting better at it now. Great tip about not being mad in front of the kids, kids watch everything! And they will grow up following your coping/communication skills too (I know because my parents fought a LOT and subsequently divorced, and I’m not the best at communicating my needs). I’ll have to discuss that with my husband on one of our ‘parenting strategy talks’.

  7. These are really great advices. Having been married for almost ten years now (I feel old), one thing that I learn is to let go of small things. No one is perfect and we can’t expect people to do everything right.

    This may sound simple, but communication is the key to a successful marriage. I am still trying to work on it. Lastly, it’s not you and me, it’s we.
    Leo T. Ly recently posted…My Personal Net Worth Review – 2017 Year-endMy Profile

    • @Leo- 10 years! “It’s not you and me, it’s we” that’s a wonderful quote. Yes, letting go of small things is HUGE (pardon the joke!), and being empathetic. Understanding versus the need to be ‘right’ or the need to satisfy one’s ego.

  8. We were married for almost five years before Baby with Cents was born . We wanted to travel during our first years of marriage before we thought about having kids and it has worked out great. Since he was born we had no real urge to travel far although we plan to do something this year. We’re most likely doing a road trip because we don’t know about putting Baby with Cents on a plane yet.
    After that first year of marriage, it gets easier because you’re used to each other’s daily habits and able to work out any of them if it’s bothersome for your partner.
    Kris recently posted…Expense Chronicles – December 2017 Holiday Shopping and Using Gift CardsMy Profile

    • @Kris- Fantastic! My husband and I traveled to quite a few places before baby came but I still feel the urge to travel 🙁 Thankfully my husband is very tolerant of my habits, like putting clothes (unfolded) on the bed or even my loud snoring (hehe). He figures out the big stuff and I dive into the little stuff (like looking for car rental companies or planning stuff).

  9. Ahhh – this makes me reminisce so much about our first year of marriage! I was literally on the phone every night with my mom, “Mom…he doesn’t know which one is the washer or dryer….” annnd I’d be crying. I had to chuckle…yes, some people are raised differently, like, have parents that did laundry for them all through their college years too. It’s been fun to grow together as a couple – you really truly don’t know what kind of a person someone will be until they become a parent….then you get to see even more of their greatest strengths and weaknesses, and a good marriage is being able to off-set each other in each other’s weaknesses. When we had a kid – everyone wanted to come over and see us/the baby. Well, entertaining people was not on my list of priorities! So – we just started being momma and poppa bears, “Sure, you can come over…if you bring us a meal that’s ready to eat.” haha! We were bold but I loved that we did that! The hangriness and sleep deprivation is real! Congrats on your 1yr anniversary!!! We are coming up on our 12 yr anniversary…yeah, we eloped when we were babies…#noregrets #lovedit #bestdecisionever Lots of things to learn over the years for sure! Keep communicating and writing!
    Mrs. Defined Sight recently posted…1/10 Hump Day Heat: Bloggers Sizzling Up The Week!My Profile

    • @Mrs. Defined Sight- Haha!! That’s so sweet you were able to tell your mom about that lol! Mr. Defined Sight had it good- laundry done throughout college years! Oh you are so right- that you don’t know what a person is really like until they become a parent. I am finding my patience is not as good as it was before and am trying to work on that, on the days that I get more sleep my patience is certainly better LOL. Congratulations on 12 years! Lots of marriage experience here! Great idea of telling others what you need and communicating that- we did that as well, instead of a baby shower gift we asked for food, and it was so great for the first 6 weeks- those days were brutal.

  10. Congrats on one year! We’re in our second year and it’s been awesome. Best decision I’ve ever made. 🙂 I agree – you really do need to have a solid relationship before childrearing. That’s one reason we’re waiting to have kids, so we can get to know each other better to be a unified front.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…A Review of LadderMy Profile

    • @Mrs. Picky Pincher- Congratulations on 2 years! You and Mr. Picky Pincher certainly seem to complement each other well, and he got you a macaron template, how thoughtful!

  11. Hey GYM!

    On the finance side, something I think works well is for each spouse to have a small “discretionary” account with a monthly auto-deposit. That way, each can spend that money as they wish, with no second-guessing from the other.

    • @Miguel- we are kind of the opposite we use a joint account and then the rest is our own discretionary accounts 🙂 it works well for us

  12. Congrats on your anniversary! I have been married for almost 7 years and your list are definitely a part of what I have learned as well. I can tell you that kids change the equation with regards to the time you have for yourselves, money matters, travel, etc. Overall, it’s worth it…even if at times you feel like jumping “ship” and swimming out to “shore” on your own. 😉
    Enoch@SavvyNewCanadians recently posted…10 Things That Are Not Covered By a Standard Home InsuranceMy Profile

    • @Enoch- thank you! Wow 7 years- congrats! Yes it really changes things- I think more “we” rather than “me” now.

    • @damn millennial- sometimes I try but then my partner might not be in the frame of mind to resolve the issue and then we are both tired and not problem solving well. It’s a good thing to aspire to though, I agree!

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