As you might imagine, there are some pretty big things that change when you are married — like your tax status, for instance. But, especially if you have already lived together, you may be more surprised by the little changes that marriage brings instead. Some of these might be heartwarming, and you might be indifferent to others. Some of the smaller marriage differences are downright annoying. But if you didn't want to get married — and be seen by others as married — then presumably you wouldn't have done it in the first place.
When you decide to get married, you are participating in a shifting but existing tradition. Marriage gives other people a shortcut to understanding your life, and how your partner fits into it. Agreeing to marry, and going through with it, is also a way of giving yourselves an understanding of what the relationship is: life-defining, high-investment, and (hopefully) permanent. So whether you are considering getting married, are very newly married and trying to put your finger on what has changed, or have been married long enough to reflect on these observations and how they have applied to you, here are just some of the little things that change when you are married.
1. You become "we"
If you hadn't already fully become a "we," then you'll probably find that now's the time. Having recently just gotten married myself, sometimes it feels like all I ever say is "we this," and "we that." But if that ever felt a little cheesy or off before, it doesn't now. Marriage makes you a familial unit, and basically no one is going to begrudge you that.
2. People are less likely to challenge your decisions
Before I was married, my parents and friends would pretty often try to talk me into or out of stuff. This is pretty normal, and not so objectionable in general. But once you're married, decisions get made mostly internally, between you and your partner, and then announced to others rather than put up for discussion. Others may not even realize it, but they'll be challenging your decisions less.
3. Your relationship anxiety will fade
If you worried tons about the relationship before, it's likely that you'll notice this fades after you are married. Obviously, we all know that divorce is a reality, but being married quite reasonably takes the prospect of a split off your mind most of the time. You might find that the lifting of this stress allows you to feel even happier and more like yourself than you did before. It's a little ironic that this is one of the benefits of getting married, because studies show that people who feel the highest amount of anxiety at the prospect of relationship troubles are likely to unfortunately stay single longer.
4. You feel more comfortable with yourself
I'm not going to call this one "letting yourself go," because that is an insulting and self-fulfilling stereotype about married people. Instead, think of marriage as an opportunity to get more... comfortable. Your spouse has promised not to let some hard times or some sick days come between you, so take advantage judiciously.
5. People ask about your spouse constantly
I was interested to find that, since I've been married, people ask much more about my husband, what he thinks of things, what we've been doing lately, and so forth — even people who don't necessarily know him that well themselves. Your first response to this might be to feel annoyed, but it's not that marriage has managed to make you disappear, or melded the two of you into one identical person. It's that being married means being formally together, and people respect and acknowledge that by showing an interest in your spouse.
6. There's more silence
Marriage, in the best of cases, means a long, long time spent together, so you're going to have a tough time if you expect that every minute will be full of interesting and meaningful chatter. No one could ever provide that for you anyways, not even the very most compatible of potential spouses. Maybe you've found a way to keep the convos fresh (or short) until the big day. But now's the time to get used to just spending a whole lot of time around each other — much of which is silent.
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