Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What really changes when you get married?

I have always been a marriage sceptic. I just didn't think it was necessary, in this day and age, to go through a public ritual based on religious beliefs that I don't hold, in order to demonstrate my life-long commitment to another person. In my mind, this was a thing we had to do to prove to V's parents that we were serious and committed, and everything else - the dress, invites, cakes, certificate, reception - was fluff (expensive, fun fluff). The important thing was our relationship, how serious we were about one another, our commitment to a shared future.


Since getting hitched, I have noticed a few things that have changed, for better or worse - some of which I didn't expect. I'm here to share my widsom 9 months post-vows. Let me hasten to add, some of these will apply to people in long-term relationships who aren't married - this is just my personal experience.

People take you more seriously.
It's subtle, but it's there. People see the band on your finger and they think you've taken one more step on the ladder towards adulthood, and they treat you with more respect. Not that they didn't before, but... there are some people who find it hard to take eternal singletons seriously as grown-ups. Personally? I'm not even sure I want to qualify as a grown-up. Even saying 'my husband' makes me feel insanely self-conscious (I still can't do it without imagining it in a Posh Elderly English Lady accent).

You put on some 'wedded bliss' pudge.
YEAH. Did not expect that. But we lived together before we got married! I hear you protest. Fat don't care. I guess there is some truth to the 'fat and happy' thing after all. That, and all the delicious Indian snacks/food I am exposed to now (and yes, V has put on weight too).

You argue about ridiculous things...
Like, say, for instance, just hypothetically...what time you will have dinner every night. Because some people like to have a big snack after they get home from work, then a late dinner, while other, dare I say more rational people, would prefer to eat at a reasonable hour. When you get married, you're aware that this is for REALS now, which means that you need to iron out some basic shit before you find yourself eating midnight curries for the rest of your life.

Just hypothetically.

- but the fights are less serious.
Because you're married now, yo. You can't get too mad at someone you chose to spend the rest of your life with or you're going to have a very unhappy life. Then again, we're new to this marriage gig, so ask me again in 5 years.

Some people expect you to change (and not just your name).
I haven't changed my name (yet). I'm still undecided. But there has definitely been an expectation out there that I will, and I find myself reacting against that. 

It's expected that I will adapt to my husband's culture, learn to cook Maharashtrian food and speak Marathi. I'm doing good on the cooking front; not so hot on the language front (I can count to 10...)! The spiritual side is trickier; I'm an atheist (well, secular humanist) but open to practicing some rituals for the sake of respecting the cultural heritage I've married into.

Thank goodness V's an enlightened fella who loves to cook (and is reasonably clean), so those outdated 'traditional housewife' expectations that sometimes come from *ahem* less enlightened cavemen people, are politely ignored. Or sometimes impolitely ignored, if I'm feeling fiesty.

You gain an entire other family.
In previous relationships, my in-laws were kept at arms length for various reasons (physical distance, family issues, lack of closeness). Now, I feel like my family has exploded in size. In Indian culture, you don't marry an individual, you marry into a whole family (distant cousins and random great-uncles included). Everyone has a stake in your marriage. This has been a major adjustment for me, as a fiercely independent human female person.

There's no back-up plan.
Which I guess is scary for some people? But for me, it's just a massive relief TBH. More than any other relationship I've been in, I feel secure. I know the divorce rate is crazy-high; and people change; and a lifetime is an incredibly long time, yada yada - but for me, this is the first time I've let myself be in a relationship without having a plan B at the back of my mind in case things go pear-shaped.

It feels different.
It just feels different.

TLDR: Marriage: it's not for everybody, but it works for me.

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