9 Mistakes We Made As Newlyweds
It is hard to believe that my husband and I will soon celebrate 9 years of marriage this week! Marriage is one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life, and despite some obstacles along the way, the journey has been worth it.
Although it may not sound like a lot to some, nine years of marriage will definitely teach you a thing or two about love, and what it means to keep at it. For those of you familiar with my blogs and videos, most of you know that I like to share what works and even what hasn’t worked for us. Typically, we learn the most from our own mistakes, but it is possible to learn from others as well.
So, whether you are in a relationship, engaged, or married, you will likely relate to a lot of these lessons, or you may find them helpful for you and your significant other the way as you begin or continue your wonderful and happy journey through marriage. Trust and know that nobody’s marriage is perfect. A marriage (or relationship) that is healthy and happy isn’t free from obstacles; rather, two people have chosen to fight harder for each other than they do against each other.
1. We made assumptions and miscommunicated expectations.
Eric and I both assumed that we would do certain things for each other merely based on what we saw in other marriages and relationships. Those misunderstandings later turned into disagreements especially when the other person didn’t do what was initially expected of them to do. We learned, however, that although we both had histories, we had to create our own history, and define our own tasks and responsibilities together as a partnership.
2. We didn’t always listen to each other.
It is no secret that everyone in the world could do a better job of listening. For our marriage, Eric’s background and experience in the legal field made it quite normal for him to prepare his defense while I was talking to him about something. So, instead of actually hearing what I was trying to say to him, he would tune me out and be prepared for his ‘comeback’ as soon as or even before I started talking. Nevertheless, he has done a much better job of listening to me, and I, too, have learned when it is and when it isn’t appropriate to have those deep conversations.
3. We lacked understanding and compassion toward each other.
Eric and I come from two different backgrounds – I come from a single-parent home, whereas he came from a home where he had his mom and dad. Hence, because of what I experienced growing up, I wasn’t AS excited when it came time to start having children, but Eric on the other hand was ready and willing. This used to be one of our toughest debates in our marriage, because for a long time Eric couldn’t understand my hesitation with having children so fast once we got married. However, multiple conversations and deep discussions would later provide the clarity and understanding that we both needed. We stopped arguing, and started communicating, which allowed us to go deeper into the core of who we are, how we came to be this way, and decide on the timeline for having children.
4. We hit below the belt.
When you are young and in love, the passion will come out in ways that you would never imagine. They say communication is key when it comes to marriage, but I say effective communication is key. You can communicate all you want to, but if it comes out the wrong way then it can cause a multitude of issues. If I share an intimate or vulnerable moment from my past experiences, it shouldn’t be used as ammunition later or be brought up in a way that is offensive or harmful. As the years have gone by, we have definitely instilled a rule in our home: no hitting below the belt.
5. We allowed some of our single issues to become marital issues.
For example, it was difficult at times to transition from Miss Independent to Mrs. White, and there were certain things he learned about himself as he transitioned from a single man to a husband. For me personally, I let my independence get in the way sometimes. I wasn’t used to having a man around who could, and who actually wanted, to do things for me. So, there were times when I would say things – either verbally or even with my body language – that would make him feel as if I was disrespecting him or as if I didn’t need him. I learned more and more just how important respect is to a man. Now, I realize more than ever that I don’t have to be so independent because I have a husband that I can actually depend on.
6. We repeatedly brought up past mistakes or indiscretions.
My husband says I have a memory like an elephant (LOL), and I can admit there have been times when I have mentioned a situation or a disagreement from years ago. I like to think that I’m merely bringing it up as a reference for the sake of proving a point, but I am sure my husband would disagree. Don’t let him fool you though, because he has quite the memory as well. Both of us have been guilty of bringing up things from the past, but we both agree and acknowledge that we cannot successfully move forward while dwelling on the past. Besides, there is no way that we could have stayed together this long if we stayed focused on the past versus the future.
7. We ran away during arguments.
It is true that sometimes during an argument, you need to take some time and space from each other to prevent it from escalating even further, but that doesn’t mean that you just leave them either. Early on in our marriage, Eric used to have a habit of walking away and leaving, and I used to do the same, but he later realized that was the worst thing that he could do. Not only was it a trigger for me because of my abandonment issues with my father, but he also realized that wasn’t the best way to handle the situation and his departure could have led him into some bad situations. Now, if one of us needs some space or time to cool off, then we take the time we need in separate rooms rather than leaving and running off to go somewhere.
8. We turned minor issues into major blowouts.
People have always said, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but I don’t think we fully grasped that concept until we got married. Talk about petty…some of you would be surprised to know how many minor arguments have turned into major issues. Even worse, there have been plenty of times when after it was all said and done we found ourselves asking, “What were we arguing about in the first place?” So, now, we like to remind each other of how minor and insignificant things are by stating to each other and ourselves four simple words: “But did you die?” Trust me, it definitely helps put things into perspective and gives you a much needed reality check when you need it.
9. We allowed too much space for the egos.
Most times, the ego is what can make an argument last less than five minutes versus lasting five hours. Our egos used to get us in trouble, because one of us wanted to be right or one of us refused to be the first to apologize. Nevertheless, we learned that the more we tried to hang onto our egos, the more it separated us. Now, we realize there is no room for both of us and an oversized ego.
I can admit, even after nine years we are still not perfect, and we are still learning and growing with each other, but every year gets better and better.