9 Lessons Learned In 9 Years of Marriage

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

9.5 years ago: It was a Monday morning and I was heading into work at my on campus job when I made a quick detour into the bathroom to put on some mascara.  Another girl from a different department was in there doing the same thing and we chatted briefly before she asked me a question that would literally change my life, “Do you ever go on blind dates?”  I was a little taken aback since we’d only been talking for about two minutes, but answered with a “yes” before she explained that she wanted to set me up with her younger brother.  Three days later he called (after much pestering from his sister) and we set up a date for that weekend.  To make a long story short: our first date was a huge success, we started dating exclusively a week later, got engaged two months later and married four months after that.  Today, we are celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary (yay!) and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned during our time together.  (Plus you get to see cute pictures of me and my hubby. *wink*)
 
You and your spouse are going to change  Maybe this should go without saying because it seems obvious, but the truth is, people are going to change over time.  I am not the same person I was on the day I got married and neither is my husband.  We’ve grown as individuals, as parents and as a couple.  If you go into marriage expecting that everything will stay the same, no matter what, I think you will be disappointed.  These changes are natural and to be expected because life happens and life doesn’t stand still. 

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

Sometimes you go to bed angry  A few months back, I shared the worst marriage advice I ever received (and what we do instead).  It was from a well-meaning, older relative who said, “Never go to bed angry.”  I didn’t take her advice.  I’ve found that there are some conversations that happen late at night when neither of us are fully able to discuss things rationally and one or both of us go to bed with the problem unresolved.  My husband and I can both be very passionate about expressing our point of view and sometimes it’s just better to stop talking and go to sleep.

Seeing your spouse become a parent is beautiful  We tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with our first child and then waited another nine months until she arrived.  I felt like a mother from the moment that I found out I was pregnant, but my husband didn’t feel like a dad until she was born.  Because I had a c-section, he was actually the first one to hold her and he went with the nurses while she was cleaned and weighed.  Seeing the anxious concern on his face during the surgery and then the joy and excitement once she was born was priceless and beautiful.  When we had our second baby, a boy, he was so excited for his little buddy to finally be here.  I loved watching him with our kids moments after they were born and seeing him become a parent each time.

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

Date nights aren’t just going to happen  When my husband and I were dating, we went out on dates all the time.  Over the years, going on dates has slowly become something that takes a little more effort and planning.  Unless we actually make the time for them, they don’t happen, especially not with two little kids at home.  If I notice that my husband and I seem to be getting on each others nerves or more grumpy, it is usually tied to not getting enough time together away from the kids to connect.  We are still working on going out consistently.

Working together to solve a problem  The more time you spend with a person, the better you get to know them.  You know how they think and what makes them tick.  You learn how each others strengths and weaknesses compliment the other person.  My husband and I are much more efficient at identifying and solving problems than we were when we first got married.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting problem, family problem, work problem, relationship problem or putting together IKEA furniture. (amiright?)  I’ve learned that my husband is good at looking at a situation from a larger scale and identifying problem areas and coming up with solutions.  I am good at planning things out, keeping us on track and identifying potential issues along the way.

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

You keep learning new things about each other  I remember sitting with my husband one day eating some cookies and he said, “I like these, but oatmeal raisin are my favorite.”  Um, what?  I didn’t actually believe him.  We texted his sister (the same one who set us up) and asked her to tell us what my husband’s favorite cookie way.  Her reply: “Oatmeal raisin.”  How did I not know this?! (Clearly I never made cookies for my husband while we were dating…)  I think sometimes I feel like because my husband and I know each other so well that we forget there are a lot of things we don’t know about each other or have never done together.  Just last summer, we went water skiing for the first time together.  I’m actually a decent water skiier, but he didn’t believe me until I popped out of the water no problem.  Doing new or different things with your spouse, like on date nights, is so important because it gives you the opportunity to know them better and love them all over again.

Build dreams, make goals, achieve together  One of the best things my husband and I have done for our relationship is to make goals.  It’s given us something to work on together.  We believe that if we are moving forward in the same direction that we’ll have less conflict and more success in life.  Whether it’s reevaluating a budget, planning to go to Italy (one day!) or redoing our yard, we are better together.

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

Don’t stop doing the little things  Along with dating, doing the small things in a marriage really make such a big difference.  Because so much of our day and week is repetitive, it can be easy to fall into a routine with each other.  When my husband and I take time to connect each day, it rejuvenates us and we feel more whole.  When I hear my husband praise me in front of someone, it makes me feel happy and appreciated.  When I sincerely thank him for taking out the garbage so I don’t have to, he feels loved.  I think a big key to this is discovering your spouse’s love language.  It’s those little things that they do in your love language that lift you up.

Love them more than the day you married  On the day of our wedding, I truly think my husband and I felt like we couldn’t love each other more than we did that day.  But we were wrong.  Our love grew as we put each other through school, struggled to make ends meet, got new jobs, built a house, had kids and so many other moments.  Each year on our anniversary, we look at each other and know we are still in love and that love is deeper than we could have imagined on that sunny spring day in May nine years ago.  It seems impossible and yet, here we are.

9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

How long have you been married?  What lessons have you learned?

Parenting Lessons From Moana’s Mother

Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

If you have kids, you’ve probably watched the movie Moana, seen clips or heard the music.  I took my daughter to see it in the theaters not long after it came out and I loved it.  We’ve watched it a few times since then and it’s a movie that we can all enjoy together as a family.  Soon after the movie came out, I started seeing different people post about their favorite scenes or lessons from the movie.  And each one I read never mentioned the one thing that struck me most as a parent: Moana’s mom.

When I was growing up and watching all the classic animated Disney movies, I never really paid much attention to the fact that so many of them, especially the princess movies, didn’t have mothers: Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Snow White and Belle (just to name a few).  It wasn’t until I had kids of my own and started watching these movies with my kids that I became more bothered by it and question it: How different would these movies have been had the main characters had their mother in their life?  Would they have even come into existence?  Why is it the mother that so often dies?  Obviously, there are Disney movies where the mother is present and these always touch my heart, such as Mulan, Rapunzel and now, Moana.

From the beginning of the movie, Moana’s mother, Sina, is a constant figure in her life.  She encourages her to fulfill her responsibilities, teaches her the necessary skills and is a listening ear and voice of comfort when Moana becomes frustrated.  She sees her daughter’s struggles and desire to be on the water and does her best to help ease the pain.  As her mother, she also wants to protect her daughter from the dangers beyond the reef.  Sina is playful, smart and strong-willed, much like her daughter.

Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

I see myself in Sina and I see my daughter in Moana.

There are two scenes that always get me when it comes to Moana’s mother.  They are brief but make an impact on me and I love how Disney portrayed them.

The first is when Moana’s grandmother is ill and she tells Moana she needs to leave and take the heart to Maui and return it to Te Fiti.  The rest of her family is preoccupied with the grandmother and no one seems to notice her rush out the door and to her family’s hut to pack supplies for her trip.  But then, right in the middle of her packing, her mom appears in the doorway, out of breath and with a look of confusion when she sees what Moana is doing, and then realization hits her and she knows exactly what Moana is doing.  Rather than stop her or scold her, she kneels down and helps her gather the rest of what she needs for her journey.  She recognizes that as much as she doesn’t want Moana to go, that this is something she has to do.

Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

Moana and Sina hug and the final look shared between mother and daughter always brings tears to my eyes because so much is conveyed by that one look: fear, hope, determination.  I imagine myself and my daughter and even my son.  My kids are only 5 and 3, but they are becoming their own individual people with their own personalities.  As they grow, they will be faced with hard things and I won’t be able to shield them from everything that comes their way.  I can only do my best to teach them and prepare them and build a strong relationship with them so that when they need someone to talk to, they know they can come to me for love, help and support.

The second scene is at the very end when Moana returns home.  Sina is the first one to turn and see Moana’s boat and she’s up and running toward the beach with her husband behind her.  Moana rushes into her mother’s arms a split second before her father comes up and hugs both of them.  It’s such a short scene but you can see the relief and pride and happiness so clearly.  I’ve felt these same feelings with my own kids when they do something that makes me a little nervous that they might fail, but then seeing them succeed and being filled with joy.

Moana's mother teaches important lessons on how to love, teach and let our children grow

On this parenting journey, we are going to experience (and have experienced) happiness, joy, heartache, worry, sadness and so many other emotions.  I’m so grateful for these beautiful reminders that as parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our children to the best of our abilities and then trust them as they try out their wings.  They are going to fall.  They are going to fail.  But they are also going to succeed.  And I want to be there when they come running.

One Year Blogiversary! {Plus 5 Lessons I’ve Learned}

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Wow!  I cannot believe it’s been an entire year since I started my blogging journey!  When I first had the idea to start my own blog, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Many nights have been spent at my computer writing up posts or editing pictures.  It’s been exciting and crazy and frustrating and rewarding–sometimes all in the same day!  I’ve learned a lot about myself and met some amazing people.

When I re-launched my blog a couple of weeks ago, I received so much love and support and encouragement.  I was overwhelmed!  And so, my friends, this post is dedicated to you.

Today I want to share what I’ve learned (and am still learning) when it comes to this whole blogging adventure.

My family is my greatest support system
My kids and my husband have been so wonderful throughout this entire process.  My kids have been patient as I’ve taken pictures of activities or of them.  They’ve helped me make meals and desserts.  My husband has watched the kids countless weekday evenings and Saturday mornings so that I can get my projects and posts done.  He supported me when I told him I wanted to get my entire blog redone and gave me suggestions and opinions because he wants to see me succeed.  There is no way I’d be able to do any of this without my family by my side.

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart
Holy crap.  No one can explain how much WORK it takes to run a blog.  I could easily work on blogging stuff all. day. long. and still not get everything done that I want to.  There have been many times when I’ve just stared at my computer, willing my brain to work and think of a post to write.  Never mind that I’ve got a family to take care of on top of all my blogging.  There are days when I feel like I seriously have two full time jobs.  Unless you’ve actually done a blog consistently, it’s hard to describe how much time and energy it takes to upkeep and improve.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love blogging.  But it is WORK.

I have an awesome network of blogging friends
About six months ago, I asked a blogging friend of mine for advice about how to get more involved in the blogging world.  One of the suggestions she gave me was to join some Facebook groups dedicated to blogging so that I could network with them.  This piece of advice has been invaluable to me because as a result, I’ve “met” some amazing people!  I’ve even met some of them in real life and we are friends who have more in common than just blogging.  There are so many wonderful people out there and I’ve been truly blessed to run in the same circle as them (even if it is mostly a virtual circle).

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Numbers don’t matter
I didn’t really take this lesson to heart until this last summer when I attended a local blogging workshop.  Over the course of the evening, I was able to talk with many different people and get to know them.  Not just about their blog or their strategies, but who they were as people.  Up until that point, all of my interactions with other bloggers had been online.  After meeting them, my whole perspective changed and I was able to think about each person who visited my blog as a person and not just a number.  Would I like to reach thousands of people a day?  Sure I would!  But not if it means that I forget that each person visiting my blog has a life, a family, a career, dreams and hopes.  So please know that I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to click on my links or read my posts.

It’s hard to be vulnerable
One of the very hardest things about blogging is letting people into your world.  Letting them see you.  Maybe even letting them see your family.  Taking a peek into your personal challenges and trials.  Acknowledging that you’re human and your life isn’t perfect and you make mistakes (a lot of them).  Being vulnerable is scary.  But you know what?  It’s also super rewarding in a lot of cases because when you’re vulnerable, you have the opportunity to connect in a way that isn’t possible otherwise.

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Also, I want to thank the Sweet Tooth Fairy for donating some cupcakes to help me celebrate my blogiversary!  They even wished me Happy Blogiversary on my box.  If you are in Utah, you’ve probably heard of them (although they do have a location in AZ and FL).  They even won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars!  So they are pretty darn good.  Just look at these pictures and tell me you don’t want one.

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

My kids thought the cupcakes were really good too. *wink*

Blogging is not for the faint of heart!  This is just one of the 5 lessons I've learned over the last year.  Click through to see the other 4!

Thank you again everyone and here’s to another amazing year!