You already live together, you’ve been dating for X amount of years, you already know one another’s families well…what could be so different about married life? Well, a lot, actually.
You’re no longer a baby…
You’re officially the head of a new family. You suddenly become aware that, up until now, even though you were a working adult paying your own rent, you were still the baby in your family. But now that you’re married, you’ve created your own family. And your main role in life is as an authority figure in this new family, not as a baby in your original family.
Your parents might leave you alone more
Don’t take offense to this—they’re just trying to be respectful. Once you’re married, your parents might think twice before dropping by unannounced, or calling you and asking for a double date every weekend. Now, you’re a unit with your partner, and your parents will consider that they could be interrupting your time as a married couple.
You might not be best friends with your in-laws
Just as your own parents might butt out a little, so might your spouse’s parents. Not everybody’s life looks like Everybody Loves Raymond. Your in-laws might not want to be buddy-buddy—maybe that’s not how they function. That’s alright.
The desire for more doesn’t end
First it was establishing you were “boyfriend and girlfriend,” eventually it was moving in together, then it was getting a dog together, and of course getting engaged. Before you were married, there was always some next big step you thought was important. You think that desire for more will stop once you’re married, but it won’t. Next you’ll want to have kids, join groups/organizations with other married couples, start a business with your partner and all other sorts of desires, depending on who you are. It’s in our human nature to always want more.
You don’t get more time together just because you’re married
Many couples take it for granted that having the title of “husband and wife” will mean the world gives you a little more slack, and suddenly you’ll be together every day and night. Nope! Life doesn’t care that you’re married. You still need to work—and work hard—to carve out time to be together.
There’s no such thing as being “done” settling in
Consider the home you buy with your partner a bottomless pit of need. There is no light at the end of the tunnel on that one, so it’s better to just put aside money and time on a regular basis to spend on upkeep of your home. As soon as one thing is fixed, another thing is just too old and needs to be replaced, and another thing goes out of style, and suddenly something is broken again.
You don’t feel magically closer
For truly in love, stable couples, this shouldn’t be a frightening thought because they were already close to begin. But many couples slap marriage on an unsteady relationship like some sort of band aid, and band aids only temporarily cover up a wound. If you’re still struggling to bond with someone, or having intimacy issues, no marriage license will fix that. And if you’re a perfectly happy couple who was expecting some feeling of fireworks after tying the knot, don’t think something is wrong all because things feel the same—things were great as they were, remember? That’s why you got married!
Your own personal goals won’t budge
Some women fear getting married because they think marriage will take up so much time and mental energy that they’ll forget or abandon the personal goals they had when they were single. Wrong! Fortunately, your goals and dreams are stubborn. They’ll still be nagging at you, even when you’re married. You’ll still find a way to reach them.
Marriage can be lonely
Don’t take on the, “Oh we shouldn’t bother Sue and John about going to dinner—they’re married” mindset and DON’T let others think about you and your spouse this way! You still need friends and an active social life. Going from living with housemates, roommates, or maybe even your family, to suddenly it just being you and your spouse can be a social shock. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’re immune to loneliness. So keep making a point to see friends.
Your friendships will change
Even though you will keep putting effort into your friendships, they will change. The fact of the matter is that you’re not on the prowl for men anymore. You don’t want to go to bars as much. You got married for a reason! So you could finally relax. Your friendships with your single friends will change. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a reality. Don’t get depressed over it. Accept it and know that, in time, those friends will marry too, and you’ll discover a whole new type of friendship and bond with them.
People expect you to have kids!
You may not have expected that, seeing as it’s the 21st century and procreation is hardly the top reason people wed anymore. But guess what? Society still expects you to at least try to have kids somewhat soon after marrying. Your elaborate plan to travel together for three years and then start a company and then publish a novel? Society is still tapping its foot wondering where you’ll fit a baby in there.
Your spouse will officially become your best friend
This doesn’t mean your other best friend gets knocked down in the ranks. It’s just inevitable that the person you live with, sleep with and are in love with becomes your best friend. And it’s a healthy thing! While your spouse may not have been the person you told everything to before, you’ll find that changes. And that’s a good thing.
Your spouse’s hardships and victories really are yours too
Yeah ,yeah sure—you always rejoiced in your partner’s victories and felt for him in his times of need. But it’s not until you’re married when you realize that your happiness, sense of satisfaction, success—everything—is directly tied to your partner’s. It’s at first daunting but then comforting because you realize the opposite is true, too.
The leader will change, many, many times
Throughout your marriage, there will be times when you have to be the leader—when you’re the one in the right emotional and mental (and financial!) state to make the most effort to keep the relationship strong—and your partner needs some direction. And there will be times when you’re in a bad place (because life will do that to us) and your partner needs to take the lead. Accept this ebb and flow and be grateful that you’re both willing to step it up when the other one is weak.