Today marks our 8 year anniversary of falling in love. I originally published this blog on 4/6/2015 on our one year anniversary of marriage.
In this day-in-age where marriage seems less necessary, I'm still a strong proponent of choosing the marriage path. I'm constantly asked "what" or "if anything" changes after marriage, and "what's the point of marriage if you're already in a domestic partnership?". Outlined below is my original response only one year after getting married. Now, almost 4 years in, of course my perspective has evolved a bit, but for the most part my initial reflections still hold true today. I have only added one section, - #7 "Love Changes"
When people asked Jefe and I if we thought our relationship would change after we got married, we immediately said "no".
We have an unconventional lifestyle in the way that we spend more time together than most. We had been living together for five years, we owned a house and a company together, and had spent two of those years living, working, and traveling full time in an 37ft RV. So what could possibly change except our legal status?
For the record: a lot changes.
It’s crazy to say, but things actually do change. Below I list six of the changes that we personally experienced. Please know that by no means am I saying this happens to everyone.
1. We became more sacred to each other.
As Jefe and I both drove back from the wedding in separate cars, we both felt a feeling that we had became more sacred to the other and the fear that a feeling this good was bound to be destroyed. Knock on wood, right? That moment when you’re feeling the highest seems like it has the highest probability of something terrible happening. We both felt as if we were about to be ripped apart in something traumatic. Luckily nothing of the sort has happened. We each continue to feel a greater depth of sacredness as time goes on and the fear of losing one another also grows deeper. With that being said, we still try and focus on what’s good and present instead of the statistically improbable.
2. The emotional weight of being bound creeps in.
Some find security through marriage and some find an invisible cage. Prior to marriage I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept of being “bound for life”, regardless how much I read—including a 1,000 page book about the “History of Marriage”. It hit me hard, along with the feeling that if things go awry, we’re protected or encaged by this ‘structure’ and it’s everybody’s business! Which brings me to the next point.
3. Your witnesses hold you accountable.
A marriage is everybody’s business; the agreement is not just between a couple, it’s between your community. It’s why you have a wedding. Everyone that witnesses your wedding has a social responsibility to support your relationship for the better (or at least that’s what our vows say).
When you get married, there is a societal pressure to make it work. If things go wrong, everyone will hold you accountable. When you’re just with someone, most people are not personally invested if you separate. You might get a “that’s too bad”, but people are not rooting for you the same way they do when you’re “official”.
Because let’s face it, there’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through to separate. It’s not an easy shmeasy matter like moving a couple boxes from one house to the next.
The flip side of the coin is that you have great momentum by the people that are holding your marital success in their hearts. That’s powerful! It’s the support you need to move through challenges rather than giving up. It reaffirms your union to the world that you’re spiritually connected and stronger as a team than as an individual.
4. You become seen as a unit.
People no longer refer to you as an individual, you becomes ‘we’ or ‘they’. Anywhere one of us goes without the other people will ask about the other’s whereabouts. It’s nice to know that you’re still held through your partner’s presence without actually being present.
5. You have freedom to get real.
We both became MORE REAL — less held back in expressing love, weirdness, anger, insecurity, and fear. Somehow we became more of ourselves, regardless of working, living, eating, and breathing literally next to each other’s side for five years.
My hypothesis is this: prior to marriage we had this energetic bond holding us together. By energetic bond I mean quite simply, love and all the unexplainable nuances that come with it. We were still aware of the necessity to keep that strong with our emotional input. Now married, we have this extra reinforcement of the structural support of the “institution of marriage” along with the energetic bond. This makes the energetic bond freer to flex and flow.
I’ve had experiences of extreme melt down that I never had prior to marriage. I’m free to let go of the fear of maintaining that energetic bond when I really need to move through an emotional block because I know that that structural protection is still there. This can feel both dangerous and liberating at the same time. But you always have to return to that initial energetic bond. That bond must be constantly nurtured to heal those cracks because a marriage can’t stay supportive and nurturing if the only thing holding it together is the structural system. Now, instead of one bond, there’s reinforcement and more freedom to be who you truly are without as much fear.
6. Arguing is healthy and necessary.
Prior to marriage I had a fatalistic perspective to arguing. Our relationship might be over. If we really loved each other and if we were meant to be together, we wouldn’t be fighting. Now married, that thought never comes to mind while arguing. We’re in it for the long haul and arguing is healthy. Working through arguments is the right way to approach sharing your life with someone, not by ignoring problems.
In the book “For Better”, Tara Parker-Pope explains that happy couples and unhappy couples argue the same amount. What counts is the quality of the argument and whether it’s constructive or destructive.
7. "Love" changes.
Marriage isn't a cop out to becoming complacent. It's not going to hold you together if both of you aren't doing the work. When things get tough, talk it out. Consider couples counseling not as a bandaid, but as a preventative method. Both partners need to put personal growth and the relationship growth as a priority. We re-commit to each other every day by showing up for one another, wherever we're at - happy, sad, depressed, lazy, ambitious, etc. In doing so, our love has only grown.
I didn't think I could possibly ever love someone this much. I love my husband now tenfold more than when we first fell in love. Sure, my heart isn't going into palpitations every time I hear his voice on the phone. But the love that exists between us is far deeper than I could have imagined. We've experienced the depths of darkness and the highs of the heavens on this journey together and through it all our love has evolved. We have a shared story that also holds us together. When I look in his eyes I see the reflection of perseverance and the desire to work through all situations life throws at us, hand in hand. That's true love; that's security. Our marriage has held us together like a sweet warm nest because we've been actively tending our nest.
Once again, these are merely the changes that Jefe and I experienced after marriage. Can anyone else relate to what I shared? What specifically has changed in your relationship before and after marriage? I’m interested to know!