1. I didn’t feel any less or more committed than I did before I got married.
To me, commitment has nothing to do with a piece of paper, so I suddenly did not feel like days or months leading up to my wedding were my last moments of freedom or anything like that. I didn’t have a bachelorette party because I already felt committed and this was just a formality and a step to making that official. Even when I was single, I never quite understood how a piece of paper somehow solidifies a commitment and then when I took that step myself, I was even more confronted with how much it was necessary to feel committed even before the marriage began. I had many people ask me if I felt any different about my husband now that we were married and I really didn’t. I felt just as devoted to the relationship as I had before the wedding.
2. Going back to the apartment we shared as a newly-married couple made the whole wedding feel like it never happened.
I think it’s one thing if a couple does not live together and then, suddenly, they are cohabiting in a new apartment or house that they now share. That’s a huge adjustment. But, my husband and I had been living together for a couple years before getting married, so we got home from our wedding and we were like, cool, do we need to go grocery shopping? It was back to normal fairly quick and it was actually a bit surreal, because I don’t know what I expected would happen when we came back to our apartment as a married couple, but apparently I had expected at least something to be different, because the absence of any change was oddly unsettling. I had heard stories about things being “sooooooo different” when you get married and I felt like I got married wrong? Everything felt the same, except now there was a piece of paper we both signed that said we were married.
3. I didn’t feel the need to change my last name.
I still haven’t changed my last name and it doesn’t feel like we are any less of a married couple. A lot of people wondered about that and asked me when I was going to change my name. I did not feel like this was something that was particularly important to my husband or me. However, I do have some conflicting personal views on whether or not I want to change my last name and, until those are reconciled, I have decided to keep my name. It hasn’t hurt our relationship or emasculated my husband in any way, contrary to what would be somewhat of a pervasive belief about married last names. This issue seems to be more divisive than I originally thought, so I keep my opinions about this to myself, because anyone should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves what they’d like to do with their lives, regardless of long-standing tradition or expectation.
4. We did not merge our finances in any big way.
I felt like that would all happen more organically as we decided on our future plans. There was no big rush to get a joint checking account and concretize our financial plans as a married couple. It has not impeded our ability to have conversations about finances. We have just simply decided not to make any big decisions about it and figure it will merge or divide in the way its meant to, rather than forcing it based off of expectations from other married couples. We currently have a system for sharing finances that works out for both of us, so it was imperative that we not rush to make any hasty decisions that didn’t match the needs of our particular marriage.
5. I spent just as much time with my friends as I had when we were engaged, not engaged, or when I was single.
This was something that my friends remarked on a good amount of times, that I didn’t just completely ditch them for life as a married person. A couple of my friends even said, “I can’t believe you’re still fun and you’re married!” This made me sad to realize that it was something notable or remarkable when I didn’t become a completely lame shut-in with my husband. It was important to me to uphold close friendships and it took hardly any effort to do this, because my friends were not stand-ins for a relationship. I never considered the time I spent with my friends as biding time until a relationship. Plus, my husband and I both have lives outside of our marriage and it has strengthened the time we do spend together. It’s important to both of us that we don’t wholly morph our lives together and keep a sense of independence about both of us. However, this was something that seemed surprising to other people.
6. We did not suddenly want to buy a home or have children or do any sort of “settling down.”
Every marriage is different and exists on its own timeline. However, there was this expectation that we were going to start having kids and settling down. That didn’t happen. My husband and I are still both finding our footing in our careers and feel no pressure at all to start a family. However, the amount of people that asked us when we were going to start having children made me think that we are existing on a totally different timeline than other marriages. We still have so much more we want to explore and do together as a couple, so the idea of settling down, buying a home, or having children could not be more opposite from where our minds are at. We’re getting a dog. That’s about as far as we’re going into domestication for now. (Furthermore, even though I am almost 30, I still do not feel any sort of pressure to have children. I won’t have kids until I feel ready to devote the majority of my energy to their upbringing. My husband and I getting married does not make a difference as to when we have children. We will have them if and when we are ready to do so.)
7. There was a ton of advice and expectations for married couples that I had to ignore almost entirely.
If you want to go down a rabbit hole of bullshit on the internet, google advice for married couples and pay attention as your brain completely explodes. Everyone has an opinion on how a marriage should work, from the beginning to the end of it. Well-meaning advice, sure, but just heaps and heaps of ideas that have no real bearing on the reality of a marriage. The only configuration that works for a marriage is the one you devise on your own, between the two of you, and whoever else you might bring into your marriage to help with that. When I was looking at marriage advice, I felt almost ashamed at my own marriage, because it did not seem to stack up even close to what a marriage should be like. The pieces of my marriage have never fit together perfectly, like the well-meaning advice assumed it should. We had to blindly go into our partnership and decide our values, our priorities, and our own family structure. Would it have been easier to follow a step-by-step guide on how to do this? Sure, but it would have provided a much shakier foundation.
Bonus one thing that changed the most and was the most fun?
Calling him my “husband” and hearing him call me his “wife.” I did not expect that to feel like Such A Big Deal, but it was! It felt very intimate and exciting to be able to use those labels. To me, that was the biggest adjustment to married life. I’d be talking about him and say, “Oh yes, my husband and I are doing this thing,” and I would sort of smile to myself and be like, “HUSBAND!!!!!!!!!” and get all warm and tingly on the insides.