You have a friend and they get married and the next time you see them you say so, how’s married life? And then they respond oh you know, not much has changed. And I’ve been both the friend who asks and their friend who has given the reply but you know what that’s a lie – in my opinion things do very much change when you get married.
I try to really respect everyone’s relationship and their individual needs so how things are for one couple may not be so for another couple and with less than 5 months in I certainly don’t think I’m kind of any marriage expert but as a newlywed I have felt a change in emotions and life approach and I thought the insight might be of interest to others.
As I’ve discussed before to me there’s a difference between being legally married and married in the eyes of God. I think Godly marriage is important but I recognize legal marriage it very important as well. Starting on day 1 there becomes this increased level of responsibility to ones spouse – I would hope that anyone in a committed relationship would be with their partner in good times and bad but when there’s nothing tying you together you don’t really know until something happens while marriage is making that pledge when events are unknown. And legally you are now that person’s decision maker in the event they are unable to make decisions for themselves – your spouse could literally have your life in their hands and that is some serious trust. I find I worry more about Shaun now that we’re married also feel a heightened sense of responsibility thinking about how my actions affect Shaun too. I guess this is why people become “boring old married people” – it’s one thing to take risks when you’re young and single but when those risks affect someone else it makes you think twice.
On an emotional level to me, it makes the uncertainty of the future a little less daunting knowing that I’ll never have to face challenges alone but sometimes it can be scary because it also means that there’s twice the risk – I guess you could say there’s an increased variety of emotions. When we have conversations about simple things like our day or big picture things like our careers as a whole I don’t just listen to the conversation just to be a good listener I listen thinking how this affects us as a whole and how and if I need to make any adjustments in my own activities that better support those of my spouse.
From a financial standpoint we have chosen to combine finances and I understand that’s not for every couple – hell for the longest time I didn’t think it would be for us. But after lots of long conversations we came to the conclusion that it would be difficult for us to have shared goals and separate accounts. For a long time I thought that combining finances meant that you had to clear every single purchase with your spouse but when we took a marriage prep class we were presented with the idea of each having a set discretionary fund – GENIUS. I like to shop on a regular basis, Shaun goes through periods of buying nothing and periods of splurge and we both think the things that the other ones buys are dumb – I’m on a planner sticker binge these days and Shaun wants $50 board games I’ve never heard of, rather than try to convince the other of the merits of the things we want we just promise to stay within our pre-determined fund – no separate accounts just trust that the other one is going to do the right thing. We’ve also come to realization that we’re never going to have perfectly matched incomes;There’s going to be times when one of us makes more and one of us makes less and there’s going to be times when one works more and the other works less but to say this is my income and that is yours isn’t looking at our life as a partnership and the reality is the time and energy we each invest in our careers does affect the other person – if I work late Shaun’s on his own for dinner or if he has to work on a Saturday that’s less time we have together.
Things have changed on a physical level too, which I won’t go into in to much detail but I do feel like this is something that never really gets discussed so I’m going there. I was raised Catholic and even though it really wasn’t something my parents really preached in Christianity there is a certain level of shame and guilt associated with sex outside of marriage. This is a difficult one for me because I really admire people who wait until marriage and the older I got the less interested I became in sleeping with someone just because it would feel good but at the same time I feel like I learned and developed emotionally from my prior relationships so I can’t say if I had to do it all over again I would hold out for my husband. But I will say it’s nice to not feel guilty or to not feel guilty for not feeling guilty or to worry so much about getting pregnant – it’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders in this regard.
At lot of things I’ve mentioned are emotional changes- trust, worry, appreciation, commitment but there’s a more visible aspect too I think is just as important – changing my name. This is something I REALLY struggled with. On one hand I feel like although I have moments I’m glad to be passed I think I turned into a pretty decent person and my husband does too or else he wouldn’t have married me and part of me felt like changing my name meant leaving that person behind. And honestly I think it’s dumb that the norm is for the wife to change her name to her husbands and I also think it’s BS that it’s perfectly ok for women from rich families to go by their maiden name (there’s no headlines about Ivanka Kushner) but when a regular woman does it she’s seen as hyper feminist and not really committed to her husband. But at the end of the day ours means our and that extends to our last name. I also think it makes things easier with that legal recognition I talked about and that future child we’ll probably have and let’s face it, I’m all about making my life easier.
My whole life I’ve heard that marriage is 50 / 50 – well let me tell you – that’s bullshit and the math is wrong. Marriage is not addition it’s multiplication – you can’t have two people each putting in half effort and expect a full marriage. Ideally each person gives their 100%, and sometimes due to illness, work demands, or just life one person can’t give their 100% and so the other has to find a little extra to make up the gap be it with their time, money, energy or emotion.
So yeah, there’s a lot changed going from single to married and it’s not just a bunch of pain in the butt paperwork and a pretty ring.