What Changes After Marriage?

Many people have asked me recently: what’s changed since you’ve gotten married? My answer is: fortunately, very little.

I dislike surprises. Spontaneity is not my middle name. So it’s to be expected that I would not want things to suddenly and drastically change simply because there’s been a ceremony and a shift of legal status.

This is not to demean the importance of marriage (though, as I’ve ranted about before, it’s just a social construct like any other). Rather, I don’t think that much should change after marriage. It’s an extension of your previous relationship into a new realm, sure, but that doesn’t make it a completely different entity.

In my case, we were already pretty much living together. We’d started paying bills together. We’d met and were in the process of integrating with each other’s families (spending holidays together, giving gifts at birthdays and major life events like my PhD graduation, stuff like that). We’d already seen each other through rough times, sickness and health, and numerous joys.

Marriage didn’t change any of that. We’ll be filing taxes jointly now, I guess. We’ve both got rings, but they come off fairly frequently because we’re rock climbers, and I always need to wear different kinds of jewelry for belly dance performances.

When I asked my husband for his perspective on this—and also just to let him know this post was coming, because nothing says “I love you” like waking up to a blog post about your relationship—he concurred with my perspective. He also added that because we so highly value openness and communication in our relationship, that eliminated a lot of the nasty surprises that might come from implicit expectations. We didn’t have any “oh crap, you actually wanted this in a marriage?!” because we’d already talked over most of our expectations. The problem with expectations, of course, is that they’re frequently not conscious and thus hard to discuss, but we’ve spent enough time digging around in deep conversations that we’ve covered most of them.

Life is full of surprises, so why should the aftermath of marriage be one of them? Maybe there’s room for some pleasant surprises—along the lines of “Who knew celebrating anniversaries could be so fun?”—but overall, I’m a big fan of communication, communication, communication to reduce the unnecessary and even unpleasant surprises that might accompany big life changes.

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About Jeana

Jeana

Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.

  • http://twitter.com/katecom Kate McCombs

    I love this piece, Jeana.
    After I got married, I found that quite a bit changed even though we’d lived together for several years. The change wasn’t so much in my relationship dynamic, but in how others reacted to and treated us. It felt very different – not necessarily good or bad – just with new meaning in terms of how we were seen in the world and by our families.

  • John Hall

    Jeana – I love your posts, but the one I’m waiting to read is the “How’s the Sex After Being Married 5 Years?”. If MySexProfessor could help married couples keep the “frequency of intimacy” and the excitement of those intimate moments at healthy, fulfilling, and exciting levels, it would be the sexual relationship equivalent of solving world hunger! Why is it, that no matter how sweet, attentive, helpful, and romantic a husband is, the frequency and excitement of intimacy drops with time. After 5 years of marriage, you’re lucky if you’re getting it once a week! MySexProfessor, please tell us if there is any hope of ever restoring and preserving hot monogamy, or should we just accept the fact that the thrill of a fresh, new relationship can never be maintained!