people will suddenly think you're an adult
We share a bank account and have vomited on each other at least once — that's the stuff of long-term solidity, people. But it can't be denied that doing the Marital Two-Step out of the courthouse and picking petals out of your bodice suddenly gives your private twosome a shiny veneer of official approval.
Before marriage, mortgage brokers, investment planners, and other such purveyors of Adult Things looked at us in vague confusion before backing away. Now, they're queuing up at the door. Because we are Married People, it seems, we must also want two bedrooms, a mortgage repayment plan, gilt-edged securities, and a non-refundable sofa and lounge set.
This is pretty confusing, as the closest I want to come to a mortgage is decorating a dilapidated doll's house I picked up at a jumble sale. But that's what you learn: Being married is apparently synonymous with being grown up, even if you have no intention of doing anything of the kind.
Your friends will be afraid of you
After all the confetti and congratulating and giving of confusing ceramic cookware, your mates will start hesitatingly asking what they most feared: "Are you going to become one of them?"
Them is code for "smug married people who look at single, unmarried, or otherwise non-maritally-inclined humans as congenitally defective." We all know them. They are horrible and fun-sucking, especially at dinner parties. "You'll meet somebody someday," they coo, stroking their beloved spouse's arm with one hand and regarding you with benevolent pity.
Symptoms of becoming THEM include: speaking of yourself and your partner as one entity; the urge to set friends up "so they won't be alone"; the gradual culling of single people from your circle of mates because they make you nervous; and the purchase of anything explicitly labelled His And Hers. I am morbidly afraid of them, which (hopefully) makes it less likely I'll turn into one.
Kindness is everything
I'm academic by nature, so after we got married, I read a lot of research on what makes a good, lasting, happy marriage. (Data: I believe in it.) Luckily, they all advised patterns that my husband and I already consciously adopt: avoiding passive-aggression like the plague, maintaining independent interests, not storing up ammunition for arguments, talking everything out, being physically affectionate and silly, making complaints instead of personal attacks, and so on.
Mail is sexist
Dear Mrs. [THAT'S MY HUSBAND'S NAME YOU FOOLS] . . . Patriarchy needs to get the hell out of my mailbox. It would be fine if my husband really did pay all the bills, do all the thinking, and make all the financial decisions, but it's 2014 and that's about as likely as a hen laying square eggs, so can we put a sock in it, please?
Your relationship might not actually change much...
Personally, marriage hasn't changed our dynamic — we got married because we thought it'd be excellent to have a physical statement of our relationship in the public sphere, and to be recognized as Serious Business by visa officials and state governments. (We're an international couple. That shit's important.) But people always want to know: "What's being married really like?"
. . . but marriage really is a big deal
One year on, people are still celebrating, still wishing us happy anniversary, and even giving us one-year gifts. (My great-aunt told me she'd contemplated sending me an Orthodox Jewish blessing for the first year of marriage — "but that's meant for people who lose their virginity on their wedding night, dear, so I didn't think it was quite right.") Weddings manifest love, but marriage retains it, holds its glow, and forms a sweet feedback loop.
Images: Tumblr, JR Thorpe/limejuiceandgin