Getting hitched: Does it change anything?

Pic: Her life would never be the same again – or would it?

Last weekend I was honoured to witness one of my best friends trying on the dress that she will be walking down the aisle in. Let me tell you, I am so excited for her it may as well be me 🙂

A quick conversation came up in the carpark (where all dodgy business is discussed) about the changes that marriage brings. My friend’s grandmother suggested that it can be a massive lifestyle change, but the younger ones (my fellow bridesmaids) suggested that these days as a lot of people live with their partners before marriage, perhaps it doesn’t change anything at all. I realised that my (internal) answer was different to that of my friends. For me, marriage changed everything. I wondered why that was so. On the surface nothing seems different: I lived with my husband for about five years before we tied the knot. We saw each other at our worst moments and our best moments. We knew what it was to have a house, bills to pay and a pet to look after (the shared pet is almost like the first rite of passage as a long term couple – a sign of intended commitment). We had to negotiate issues with finances, household stuff, big life decisions and social lives – not always with initial success (it’s always a learning curve)!

We basically did everything before the wedding that we do every day now (only hopefully we’re a bit wiser and more mature these days), so it got me thinking. Why did it feel so different once that wedding ring was placed on my left hand that fateful day in 2007?

Aha! Turns out that as well as a strengthening in our love/bond that came with us both having made such a big, momentous commitment (and one we take seriously), a lot of the changes I felt were personal growth and sudden revelations about myself as an individual. Sounds funny, but getting married made me a more confident person who feels like she can stand on her own two feet (even though there’s this good dude who will be there for me by my side for life).

For some reason, being a Married Woman changed the way I identified myself (for the better). For me, growing up with such amazing role models for parents, being a Wife has symbolised strength in character, equality in relationships, confidence and conviction in your decisions and the ability to be strong, yet flexible, loving and compassionate. I suppose I feel the same about the role of a mother – for me, when I look at my mum that’s what I think of (awww).

Getting married meant that all of a sudden I was somebody’s wife! I was a grown up (holy crap). I changed my surname (the hubby wouldn’t change his last name to my last name – shame – it would have really sounded nice). I started being a Missus. I realised that if I was grown up enough to be somebody’s wife, a Missus who was taking care of things as an equal, then I should bloody well start acting like it! I needed to realise that it was time to step up to the plate and start having confidence in my decisions, confidence that who I presented myself as to the outside world was what I felt on the inside, and the belief in myself that who I am is enough to be taken seriously! I had spent a few young adult years feeling like a clueless idiot, not trusting my own opinions and not wanting to rock the boat. A new marriage may have been the catalyst, but I should have believed in myself all along. Hindsight is 20/20 is it not?

All of a sudden I felt like I could do anything: sell myself at a job interview (instead of feeling like a useless unqualified wallflower), buy a house (you know – talking to scary bank managers all by myself and signing Very Important Documents without much help), finish my degree at university (not just to scrape by but to really try hard) and not be afraid to take risks in life. I was finally making decisions because they were MY decisions – I was thinking things out for myself and not just going with the flow. I realised the strength as a person I had wanted to feel had been there all along – I had just forgotten about it.

I think that getting married was a wake up call. Getting hitched is a big decision that should be made by people who have some maturity…I felt duty bound to grow up and own my adulthood!

I guess I just started taking myself more seriously. They say you can’t expect others to do that for you until you do it for yourself. Wise words.

Perhaps some of my friends started out on stronger footing than me (with more confidence in themselves). Perhaps that is why they feel that marriage hasn’t changed anything.

We’re still not perfect people (no-one is) and we continue to grow and share new experiences – three and a half years into marriage we’re only getting started! Now that there is a little life on the way, I look forward to all the love, growth, changes and revelations that being parents will bring too 🙂

Are you married? Did getting hitched change anything? Do you hope to get married one day? What are your expectations?

See what other 20 Something Bloggers have had to say on the issue – here 🙂

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  • That’s interesting. I too wonder if marriage changes things. From my discussions with the Mr on the topic, I think he’s keen to get married when getting married won’t change anything. I’m sure there will be some things that change, mindsets and realisations that make themselves apparent.
    Sometimes I feel like we’re married already, we live together, sort bills, clean, do the shopping, travel, imagine, disagree. We’ve seen each other at some great times as well as some not so great times.
    As life goes on, we’ll continue to do more ‘coupley’ things, get a pet, eventually buy a house, maybe build one. It’ll be an interesting journey, that’s the only thing I’m certain of.

  • Well it’s no secret, I’m getting married! We’ve lived together for over a year now and I can understand how parts of our life won’t change (he’ll still be in charge of the lawns, I’ll still be head chef). I do agree with what you say about it requiring us to grow up… I think it’s really sinking in through various conversations that I have that we will be leaving our families to create a family of our very own. I often wonder whether part of that change is to do with our faith but I think we’d feel that way regardless.

  • M

    You know, you make some great points that really make sense. Having been married for almost 8 months, technically nothing changed but everything changed. You’re right – there’s something all grown up about being a Wife and a Missus! The Boy and I keep talking about how we’re all grown up now. Having dinner parties, buying practical, grown up cars etc. There’s safety in that status of “married” that, while everything was the same, it’s different.

    It’s a confidence. A self-assuredness. It makes no sense to happen considering that we’ve done it all before the wedding but it changes things in a good way for me.

    I know that a girlfriend of mine freaked out after she got married – the grown up stuff scared her witless.

  • My marriage a year ago was not my first. At 30, I’d already been married and divorced. When my now-husband and I initially got together, I told him I had no interest in getting married again. And I really didn’t. I didn’t think it made that much difference to my previous relationship, and the whole thing was more trouble (and money) than it was worth.

    But I also didn’t feel that I could commit to another person like that again. Even though I parted from my previous husband on good terms, I still felt like something was wrong with the idea of commitment – either from me or from someone else. I didn’t want to be in that place where it wasn’t a choice to be together. I also felt like my divorce was a failure. I didn’t want to fail again.

    The longer we *were* together, though, the more I came to terms with the idea of a second marriage. And so, in the end, it was me that suggested it was time we got married. It didn’t change anything in our day to day lives, but it changed the way I felt about relationships, and also about myself. I felt like I was ready to deal with commitment again, and that I could handle failure, if that was what happened. It gave me more confidence in myself – in different ways from you, granted, but it still changed how I viewed myself.

  • That’s really, REALLY interesting. I’ve never thought that marriage would change me, but now I’m really excited to see how things unfurl 🙂

  • Te

    Hmmm. Marriage. I am rapidly approaching my mid-twenties, oh, who am I kidding? I’m already there, and yet to have a serious relationship. Plenty of my high school foes are married and popping out babis at an alarming rate. For some reason the thought of becoming a Mother scares me a lot less than becoming a Wife. I panic that I won’t meet anyone to have children with, not that I won’t meet anyone to marry.

    I have always thought that I need to be 100% sure of who ‘I’ am before I become part of a ‘team’ with someone else…but after reading your blog perhaps a part of that 100% is finding someone who you trust completely.

    I’m glad to read such a positive opinion on marriage, rather than the typical ‘it’s an outdated tradition’ rants.

    • Kez

      I think the key is being with someone who you can grow with (as a couple as well as individuals). I hope we both grow forever 🙂
      x

  • ofcourse, marriage changes your life,

    you become more responsible

    may be you don’t feel the change because everything have been same but the people around you see a new you.

    🙂

  • I’ve been thinking about this lately, and I agree. Since our wedding last year nothing practical has changed at all but things do feel a little different (in a good way!) I think it’s the intention behind things, and really knowing that decisions we both make now can impact over the next few years, which I hadn’t really considered before we got married. And I’ve found that I really like being a wife as well!

  • I’m getting married next year, and have never lived with my fiance, so I’m sure for us EVERYTHING will be different. But in a good way, I hope. I think all those “major life changes”..marriage, kids, etc…force people to change and grow up a little bit. As long as you’re changing and growing together, though, I think you’re set 😀

  • Niesha S

    You know, I was never one of those people who was all, ” I need to be someone’s wife or else I’ll die!” But lately, after this last break-up, I’ve started thinking about my future and relationships differently. I certainly don’t want to be single in 10 years(age 34). I’m only 24 and at this point in my life, I’m ready to be closer to someone and in a real partnership. If those even exist anymore. Funny thing is, I live in NYC so it’s all, party, party, party, but I’m from the mid-west where lots of childhood friends are already hitched, getting hitched and/or starting families. I definitely want more for myself and can’t wait to hopefully put on a white dress sometime down the line. With the right person of course.

    • Kez

      I hope you find that special someone – enjoy the parties and the NYC lifestyle in the meantime though! x

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