Now, before I get started the things we did wrong also made us stronger and brought us closer together. While we could have avoided some of the tough times, it was working through the tough times that brought us close.
1. We did not set good boundaries with our extended family. When family came over our attitude was to live and let live. Everyone got the idea that they had a say in our lives. We became a punching bag (or it at least felt that way due to all of the helpful criticism) and when we tried to put a stop to it people were offended. A new marriage is a new thing. The Bible says that a man is to leave his mother and father and become one with his bride for a reason. Make sure that other people, even parents, aren’t allowed to have authority (or think they have authority) over your house. It is a tough transition to make, but politely telling your parents ‘thanks, but (insert spouse’s name) and I have decided to do it this way’ is a good thing to do.
2. We made a few unilateral decisions that would have been better made together. It is not that we would have necessarily decided to do anything differently in the end, but when the decision affects both people, it is easier to jump on board when you have been a part of the discussion rather than when you are feeling blind-sided by it.
3. We stayed in a church that was unhealthy for us a little too long. When your children are grown you have the energy to help a church through the rough times. When church problems directly affect you, and your children are young, your children need your energy more than the church does. Since church problems have a way of consuming our lives it is best to try, but know that if the problem is more than a bump in the road, it is not the right time of life for you to be tackling the issue. Because you have little extra time in your life, you will get cranky and blow things out of proportion and just make everything worse. There are times to step back and let others take the lead.
4. We got goats. Goats seemed like a good thing, but were actually a handful. Be wary when people are giving you things for free. Pets can be great, but make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. This goes for buying big toys like boats, RVs, pools, hot tubs and starting other hobbies. Some things require more work than you wanted to do for the amount of enjoyment you will get from them. Ask people who have been there, done that for advice.
5. We spent a lot of money on music lessons for children with no musical talents or interest. I love playing my saxophone, but my children don’t. It does not take long to see whether, or not, your child has a gift in this area. Don’t waste their time pursuing something they will never use as an adult. This goes for sports as well. It is okay to be fit and have fun, but competitive leagues are for those who enjoy it. Get to know your child and give them training in the areas God actually made them for.
6. Tim did all of the computer stuff for me. After we were at seven children (which happened quickly since we adopted a family group of older children when ours were pre-kindergarten) Tim took over the electronics. This left me frustrated, and feeling stupid when he was not home. This did not make for the best homecoming for the man who needed to fix this now. The electronic age is here and moms need to deal with it too. Everything that comes into the home must be learned by all adults present, especially if children will become upset when they have been promised something and the thing does not work…
I’m sure there is much, much more… but you get the idea.