I was quite confused when people kept asking me, before the wedding, “Are you ready for how things are going to change once you’re married?” or “Don’t expect things to stay the same once you both have rings on.” This is not only presumptuous, but baffling. What, exactly, is a piece of paper saying we’re legally bound together going to change about our day to day lives?
Shawn and I have been living together for almost three years (over two, before the wedding day). We knew the ins and outs of our daily routines. We knew how to split up chores, bills, cooking and everything else that goes along with a long term relationship. But, for some reason, people just assume things are going to change once you get married.
This may have been the case back in the days when most people didn’t spend years living together before they decided to “make it official”. Then, you don’t really have any idea of what you’re getting in to day to day. There may be quirks and habits about your partner that you never knew existed, and they may drive you mental when you are forced to deal with them on a daily basis.
With us, it wasn’t at all like that. We knew who the other person was, good and bad, before we made the decision to get married, let alone too that actual step. There was nothing we wanted to change about the other person. We both went in to this knowing that if you feel the need to change your partner to be happy, you need to be looking elsewhere. Forcibly changing people to suit you never works, and it usually ends up in resentment and, to some extent or another, disaster. We entered in to this liking what we had, and wanting to grow as a couple as well as individually.
That’s another thing: we know things are going to change, but it won’t be because we got married. Things will change when our baby is born. Things will change if we have more kids, if we move, if one of us changes job, as we age. There are many factors that will cause things to change, but our marriage won’t be one of them.
How has marriage changed our relationship? We’re legally responsible for each other, now. Before, we weren’t. We can share our health insurance. We can enjoy all the legal perks that having that little paper entitle us to. Other than that, things have stayed the same. Oh, and I changed my name. I’m one of those people who still wanted to take my husband’s name, even though the process is long and drawn out, and still not finished.
I also love the fact that we both agree nothing was going to change. Shawn had the “Why the hell would it?” attitude, and I loved that. We are the same people, with the same relationship, that we were before May 31, and I’m thrilled about it. I’m also thrilled about all the changes in our lives that we’ll get to take on together. Will we grow and change as people? Probably, yes, but we’ll be doing that together, too. We’ll be growing together as we grow as individuals.
Marriage is not a game changer. It’s a legal contract stating that you want to spend the rest of your life in the wonderful relationship you already have, and that’s what it should be.