Many people, including myself, have wondered what it is about getting married that makes it so special. Two people come together as strangers, get to know each other, fall in love, and decide to commit to one another. You date for a while, and as time goes on, consider becoming exclusive and start building toward the future as a couple.
That kind of commitment comes with you merging a lot of your stuff, maybe even living together at some point. In this day and age, sex isn’t even something most people look forward to marriage for any longer. So, if you can get sex, companionship, intimacy, shared responsibilities, and the likes without tying the knot, what then changes when you marry?
A lot does actually, some changes are good, others you may find a bit challenging to adjust to. In any case, this article details 31 things you can expect not to remain the same after you say “I do.”
A marriage usually doesn’t happen out of anywhere. The way it typically goes is you meet someone, date, your relationship becomes established, you get engaged, then get married. In cases where the bride and the groom do not interact until the wedding, the in-laws do. The point is that there’s always some form of preparation.
But even though your wedding won’t come as a surprise to you, the aha moment that you’re actually getting hitched usually doesn’t come during the planning process. It may not hit you as you try on your dress or even when you and your partner apply for the marriage license.
It might be the first time your husband calls you as his wife, or someone addresses you as a married couple, or you tick the married section when filling a form. Nonetheless, whether you get this eureka moment or not, your official status becomes married as soon as you sign your marriage certificate and the system has it.
Another common change that comes with making your commitment to your spouse official by marriage is your name. While retaining your given or chosen name is always an option, some women opt to take their husbands' names or merge their surnames.
If you’re taking your spouse’s name, the adjustment might take a minute. There will also be documents to fill, and you’d have to get used to being addressed as Mrs. or someone’s wife.
You make the ultimate commitment to each other as a couple when you and your partner decide to change your relationship status to married. Once the marriage license is issued, and the deed is done, you and your spouse know there is no going back.
Marriage is as ‘out there’ as your relationship is ever going to be, at least for those who know about your wedding. Once you say “I do,” you agree to share your life with this person, for better or worse.
Though commitment can be a sensitive subject to broach when dating, it becomes expected once you are married. Reinforced by your marriage vows, you can tackle life together, problems and all, knowing you are forever partners.
This commitment they often speak of when the matter of marriage arises isn’t something you unlock at the other end of the aisle. It’s not some secret recipe to marital success your mum shares with you on the day you become a woman. It develops little by little as your relationship with your SO grows and only becomes more official when you exchange your vows.
If you’re lucky enough to have an established relationship with your partner before getting married, that sense of security should be familiar.
You can be honest with your husband and act silly together and still know he’d be there when things need to get serious. Though some married people still cheat, marriage tends to hold you back more than dating because you know you have more to lose if you get caught.
Your relationship goals feel more concrete in marriage than when you’re dating. You make those plans with an actual resolution to see them come to fruition. Not that unmarried yet committed couples don’t set goals, but there’s always that nagging “what if you break up?” question that keeps them from going all the way.
After marriage, you can dedicate your whole heart to working towards your future, knowing it is now official. Yes, marriages fail too, but this time, having the blessings of each other’s loved ones in addition to the legal backing makes you feel safer.
In some cultures and religions, unmarried women do not take pride in having sex before marriage. Any sexual union between a man and a woman before being declared husband and wife is considered taboo. For women in that category, getting married means finally being able to flaunt in your society’s face that you are having sex.
Beyond putting an end to sneaking around, even those unbound by such rules find that sex with their spouse can feel free. Married couples find being open about their needs and insecurities easier than those still unsure about where they stand.
Anyhow, your husband/wife is as close to you as you’re ever going to get with anyone, and with this sense of security comes a tendency to relax. In the end, your sex life in marriage is what you make it.
Unlike when you’re still dating, married couples don’t have sex with a competitive mindset. Your husband isn’t trying to outdo his competitors in bed so you can pick him; you are already his. You are also more relaxed and secure being his wife, so your sexual escapades are just for the pleasure of it and not to impress.
While the novelty of having sex with your partner may have worn off long before you get a marriage license, there’s profound intimacy to be found in married sex life.
You know how some guy moves to you at a bar and refuses to back off when you say you have a boyfriend? Well, you can add that to the list of things that change when you get married because showing the ring is enough to keep unwanted attention at bay.
Ask your married friends how their spouse’s family and friends regarded them before and after they got married. You’ll find that even those closest to you would respect your commitment to each other more when you and your partner make it official. In essence, while your boyfriend of six years may yet not feel like a part of the family, your husband of six months might.
Have you ever seen an individual look at someone else differently just because they found out they were married? It’s like they automatically see you as capable of making grown-up decisions or handling things better or something. Though it may not make sense in every case, many are like that because they realize making a lifelong commitment is no child’s play.
Not only do they assume you are a full-grown adult able to decide for yourself, they believe marriage takes you further along on traditional life goals. And for that reason, society deems you even more worthy of respect when there’s a ring on your finger.
Many of the most significant changes you will experience in marriage would be related to money. While some couples already begin planning their finances before they get married, most people prefer to wait until after the wedding before combining their funds.
You share accounts, if you choose, credit history and score, mortgage, joint budgets, and pay bills with your husband. You also have certain entitlements to your spouse’s asset when you’re married that you may not be eligible for in a committed relationship outside marriage.
Because you have bills to pay and goals to meet as a family, your spending becomes streamlined to your pooled income after marriage. You become accountable to more than just yourself after the wedding so you might be less reckless about the things you spend your money on.
Financial discipline is also a choice you make as a married couple to secure your future while simultaneously living as comfortably as you can in the present. When you and your spouse are saving towards buying a home or your children’s college fund, you tend to cut unnecessary costs out without being told.
Established relationships are characterized by familiarity. You and your spouse already know yourselves in and out and have likely made your peace with it all, so you’re less guarded around each other. This understanding comes with being comfortable with each other and the sense of security marriage brings to your relationship.
As you get used to marriage and each other, you begin to ease up on everything from your sex life to your day-to-day interactions. Your conversations are more casual and straight to the point, even while texting. In the grand scheme of things, this is a good thing, but it can also have its bad side.
With the good, most of the time comes the bad. The yin and yang of it all. With the tendency to relax enough with your spouse to comfortably flex your married life comes the less desired part, letting yourself go.
Your husband thinks you are beautiful just the way you are, so your motivation to keep trying reduces gradually. From swapping lingerie for a comfier set of PJs to eating more and working out less, you go from one to the other. Since men are not immune to this either, your significant other might also gain a few extra pounds over the years.
With your commitment to matrimony comes restructured priorities. Once you get married, you become officially obligated to consider someone else other than (sometimes before) yourself. Your lives become entwined, as do your goals. From planning to execution, you will have several projects together, many of which would be in your shared interest.
In place of the spontaneous dates and romantic stuff you two did when dating, you now think more in terms of bills, kids, chores, and if you’re lucky, date nights. This change in priorities affects everything from your friendships to your spending habits.
The need for privacy will always be paramount, so you don’t have to feel obligated to reveal what you’re not ready to share yet. Of course, it goes without saying that you should share information that can affect your marriage or your spouse now or in the future.
But beyond financial, relationship, sexual and family health history, fertility issue, and the other major stuff you’re required to divulge, you’re not afraid to go further. The knowledge that screwing you over means self-sabotage for them, too, may have something to do with why we confide even our deepest secrets with our SO.
This real self thing is somewhat of a cliché, I know, but it’s true. In a relationship, including some long-term ones, we (women especially) tend to let some things pass in the name of “I’m not his wife yet.” You don’t express yourself entirely sometimes because you don’t want to overwhelm your boyfriend or seem too needy.
We are more agreeable because we don’t get to see each other every day anyway, so we don’t want to ruin the time we get with stale arguments. But once you get married, you feel less inclined to sweep things under the rug. You speak up more because you know you and your partner are in it for real, so if you let things go to shit, it’s your loss too.
In a marriage, both parties get the sense of being home and realize that now more than ever, you have equal stakes in your relationship. Because of this, the previous point is inevitable; your actual personalities surface, and with this, a lot of arguments.
But after fighting your significant other over relatively insignificant things over and over, you learn to choose when to bite your tongue. When the fights are not worth it, so you just accept your L with love.
In addition to honing your self-control, this research by Tilburg University shows marriage can be a training ground where you learn to forgive more. Apparently, in married couples, from newlyweds to those who were married for up to four years, they found that these skills increased compared to when they were single.
This conclusion isn’t so far-fetched because, unlike when you’re dating, you usually don’t fight with the threat of breakup looming over your relationship when married. Once you genuinely decide to let something go, for the family’s good, you don’t hold on to it or start counting strikes.
There aren’t married couples who resent their partner, but the scale is generally more than in other forms of commitment.
I don’t believe anyone is 100 percent outgoing or introverted. We all have a degree to which we let other people into our space, depending on the situation. When you get married, the shift in priorities, adjusting to marital life, and essentially building a family from scratch tends to put a dent in your social life, especially at first.
A newly married couple may withdraw a little bit from their friends or form new friendships that enable them to play near home base. And even when you do socialize, staying out late and partying hard doesn’t seem as fascinating anymore. You’d rather make better use of the alone time you get.
No one has to force you to work harder after marriage, or wake up at a particular time, or that you probably shouldn’t spend an entire month’s income frivolously. You begin to think for two, even if your spouse isn’t directly dependent on what you make.
You are more careful with your other choices too, and the reckless things young single people do for fun become less and less appealing to you. Marriage means you have a family of your own now, and as the woman of the house, you instinctively take it upon yourself to be accountable to it.
There’s this competitive thing couples do in romantic relationships, where one partner tries to outdo the other so they don’t get left behind.
You work out more because you don’t want your boyfriend to look at other fit women at the gym. You concentrate on growing your followers on social media because your significant other is quite popular, and you want to measure up. We all do it, if on varying scales.
Why there may be no hint of malice there, you and I know we never truly relax around our partner’s success. The competition may be friendly and subtle, but it’s there.
However, when you get married, you’re more interested in seeing the team win than being the MVP. You’re still very much inspired to move forward, just that this time it feels less like you’re running against your SO and more with them.
The usual sore points that even long-term couples prefer to avoid are not off-limits in marriage. Where you may feel somehow about asking your boyfriend for the details of a substantial purchase, you can talk about money more confidently with your husband.
The same goes for sex when the little man won’t perform optimally and the quirks that drive you nuts. When you’re married, you realize having the awkward conversations about money and stuff aren’t punishments or something to avoid, but ways to keep your relationship healthy.
Marriage may not be the end of the road for everyone, but no one can deny what a significant milestone it is. It’s literally the beginning of the rest of your life, the most committed you’ll ever be to someone else, apart from maybe your kids. Something a lot of people base their entire dating life upon.
Whether you see marriage as an achievement or not, there is this sense of stability in sealing things on the relationship front. You can focus on other life goals knowing that the home front is settled and that no matter what happens, you’ll always have each other.
Besides the ”welcome to adulthood,” everyone all but tells you once they hear you got married or are getting ready, something clicks inside of you too. Your parents treat you differently, siblings too. Your friends, work colleagues, even people you don’t know are more respectful toward you.
But beyond all of that, you yourself would realize you’re not the same person you were before tying the knot. You’d now think in terms of big, real-life stuff like children, mortgage, retirement, jobs, and the likes. You’d feel so grown that even sex wouldn’t feel like forbidden fruit any more.
Again, getting married doesn’t just affect the way people see or what they think of you, it does something to you internally as well. Unlike the feeling of growth that may be instant for some brides, this confidence boost occurs gradually.
It goes from being able to live with another person and be comfortable in your skin to being more open to trying new things because of it. In a healthy marriage, you’re not so conscious of your insecurities that you hold your belly in or wake up earlier than your husband to put on makeup.
You’re more confident being yourself, and that reflects in everything from your opinion of yourself to how you address others and what they think of you in general.
As the African proverb goes, twenty kids cannot play together for twenty years. One of those things that change when you get married due to nobody’s fault is your relations with some of your friends. Particularly in the early years of marital life, you may not be able to participate so much if most of your girlfriends are single.
You’d be more drawn to home than ever, your contribution to conversations would always have something to do with your husband or work because that’d be your life. Not that you can’t discuss trying for kids over happy hour with your girls, but they might not be able to relate as well as someone who’s also at that stage.
Hence while still keeping up with old friends, many couples make new ones after getting married or having children. Basically, your relationships that do not evolve get pushed back while more effort goes to maintaining those that are more in tune with your current status.
The friends who get to evolve with you and the new ones you make after getting married may just become the foundation of your new circle. You become family friends with those who are married and arrange playdates with their kids if you have children.
You discuss work, life, and marriage problems, talk about your husband/wife depending on how close you get, etc. The point is that friendship isn’t sustained at that level unless intentional; you have less time to kill, so you’re more selective of the people you hang with.
When you get married, you become less interested in keeping friends for the sake of it, you want real ones, and those are the ones you maintain.
Most people have a form of support system in their life that comes to mind when they think of home. For some, it’s their parents; for others, it’s their siblings or best friends. Once you get married, those direct relations of yours become secondary to the one you’re starting with your partner.
Your home will now be where you live with your husband/wife, not your parent’s or grandparents’. When you think of immediate family, your spouse pops up first, not your brother. You know you’ll always have a place in your childhood residence, and you’ll probably miss it sometime, but it won’t be your primary address anymore.
Your significant other becomes your confidant, with whom you share your successes and setbacks. With or without children, they’re your first family now.
The legal aspects of marriage are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of what changes when you marry. Combining accounts, change of name and status, wills, taxes, insurance, and other spousal rights usually come with getting married.
After your wedding, you can benefit from or list your spouse as a beneficiary of your health care, life insurance, and retirement plans, among other benefits. No matter how solid your commitment, these entitlements wouldn’t take effect until you become partners in the eyes of the law.
Before marriage, you probably spend your holidays alone or with your family. Whether or not your boyfriend came around was never something that raised eyebrows. It wasn’t a must for your partner to show up or for you to go over and celebrate with his people.
But once the names become merged and the papers get signed, it suddenly doesn’t feel right to go for family events without your spouse. When you do, questions about their whereabouts are inevitable because everyone expects them to show up now that they are officially a part of the household.
There is a lot to get used to between your wedding and happily ever after, and among them is the potential to experience an identity crisis. It’s not uncommon for brides to throw themselves into planning the perfect ceremony and overlook preparing for transitioning to the wife role afterward.
Even for those who do prepare, it can still feel overwhelming to realize that your independence has become ‘limited.’ Or that your marital roles have engulfed your sense of self, especially when everyone keeps referring to you as one half of a married couple instead of an individual.
One of the best marital advice you’ll get is to learn to manage your expectations of marriage. Don’t expect a wedding to change your spouse into a whole new person, they’ll essentially still be the same way they were before exchanging vows.
Some essential things in a marriage include commitment, effective communication, forgiveness, intimacy, compromise, openness, trust, humility, and respect. Which ones are considered most important may differ from couple to couple, depending on what they want for each other and in their marital life.
Statistically, couples wait at least two years before making their relationship official. Some date (court) for up to three times that or more before deciding to tie the knot, while there are those who do it all – from meeting to the wedding – within a year.
Traditionally, the bride and the groom are expected to consummate their marital union on the night of their wedding. However, you and your spouse can decide to do whatever you want, seeing as the marriage is yours.
From legal to financial, some of the perks you stand to gain by getting married include marital tax deduction, health insurance, employee discount, retirement plans, prenup agreements, and inheritance benefits. You also become entitled to social security benefits, get to file taxes jointly, and make legal decisions on your spouse's behalf, not to mention the emotional perks.
There you have it: 31 possible things that are likely to change after you say I do. Whether you’re a newlywed, got married years ago, or only just planning your wedding, I hope you enjoyed reading the list and that you found what you were looking for. As always, kindly share the article as well as your thoughts and questions in the comments.