Before my wedding, I asked many couples if anything changes by getting married. The general consensus was no. My husband and I, however, respectfully disagree. We have been married for, like, eleven months so we know pretty much everything about marriage. Feel free to ask us for any pointers.
I am moderately serious when I say that. Something about our particular combination creates a superstorm of self-exploration that we cannot avoid. I think it’s because we are both extrapolators, meaning we see small things and expand wildly from there, seeing that small thing through to its full, possibly exaggerated potential. Because of this mutual trait, we went through years in the first three months we were married.
Here’s what happens when you get married: you suddenly realize that marriage is mostly about who you are, not who your partner is. Your partner is obviously important, but we all know that; why else would we subject ourselves to first date cringing, red lipstick, or getting our hearts trampled? We take our search for our partner seriously, but once that search is over, it moves internal and you start searching for you.
You will find your partner serves as a brutally clear mirror that reflects back exactly who you are. It’s like one of those magnification mirrors your mom used to have (and probably still does) with the fluorescent lighting specifically designed to show every pore and wrinkle. Through this mirror, you get to see all your beauty; why your spouse loves you, how you are such a special bird. But all your peculiarities show up too, all the creepy-crawlies you said you’d get to one day. They all come front and center and ready for orders.
Some people may have seen this all-knowing mirror in other situations, and some people might not see it until years later, but I first saw it the minute we came back all lovey dovey from our honeymoon. Then *bam! slap! whappo!* …hoooolyyyyyyyy sh*t. I immediately felt the weight of what marriage truly is and I quickly went inside to hide.
I went through the shock privately, stunned by the news flash that marriage is kind of a big deal. Over the next three months, the realization grew and transformed and haunted me like twin ghost girls in a hallway. I panicked about being a wife and distanced myself from this amazing man I married. All I could see was everything I had to combat in myself in order to be the wife my husband deserves (aw…).
I failed to discuss any of this with my husband until one night when we simultaneously collapsed. Little did I know, he had been going through exactly the same shock and, per our similar personalities, we were ready to talk at exactly the same time.
So we talked. The moment we started talking about the fear, it drifted away. What replaced the fear was an intense motivation to stop holding back from everything, to be everything I said I would be. I also had the delayed revelation of what a husband is, and more importantly for me, what it means to be a wife. A marriage is a fascinating human relationship, the most intimate one you will ever have. It is the scariest, hardest, most complicated bond you will ever have. It is also the most self-aware, internal, beautiful place for massive growth.
What I know beyond a doubt is in order to have a good marriage, you have to be a good you. Harder than it sounds, and such a gift if you think about it. Marriage gives you an unbelievable opportunity to make each other better people, but it requires habit breaking (yuck), painful exposing (lame), and awkward vulnerability (no thanks). The bottom line is: if you want a happy, “all in” marriage, you can’t hide from yourself anymore. You have to pick up each creepy-crawly you saw in that mirror, dissect it, research its origins and then figure out how to outfox it.
And now if someone asks me if anything changes by getting married, I will say: “Yes. Everything. It’s all a choice. And you have to choose to fight for it.”
Things They Forgot to Mention:
Getting married means you marry two people: your spouse and, surprisingly, shockingly, yourself.