Elisabeth: Notes from K—Have We Changed?

Does being married feel different?

by K


few weeks ago E and I were driving up to Maine late on a Friday night. We were chatting like you do in the car, not talking about anything difficult, catching up on the week. It must have been two or three weeks after the clambake (E called it our wedding, I called it our legally-binding clambake), and she appreciatively mentioned that she thought that people looked at our relationship differently now, that people saw it as more valid somehow. I might have quickly replied that if I thought that people looked at me or us differently because of this ring on my finger than I’d throw it in the ditch. Not my best moment, but true.

Let’s start with how amazing the whole clambake was, especially the legally-binding ceremony part. Pretty much everyone we loved in the world sat in a circle in my three-hundred-year-old church, sang songs, cried and laughed and prayed with us, and blessed our relationship and our future together. I’m not sure how else to describe it but as holy—that place and that time felt the closest I’ve ever felt to that thin space that folks talk about where you can really know that there is some kind of force beyond just our physical selves. I felt the power of our bond, of our community, of the history of that building and that congregation. All of it.

I say that as an introvert, as someone who had months of panic about having so many people in the room at the same time, looking at me, focusing on me, maybe wanting to talk to me. I’d say maybe it was even more important for me because of that introversion, that instinct to keep things quiet and shift the conversation away from me. I’ve always been a very private person, at least about some things, and this whole process was a real stretch for me. I’ve had relationships in the past where my partner didn’t know everyone in my life and not everyone in my life knew about them. I wanted to make a stark change to transparency in this relationship, and that meant bringing my ninety-two-year-old grandmother and my college best friends and my old colleagues from New Orleans and my parents and my beloved college professor and our Brooklyn neighbors and my friends from church, it meant bringing them all together. Even if that made me kind of want to throw up.

And as a somewhat bossy introvert, I found it even more difficult but ultimately rewarding to bring all those people together and hand over the reins, to not be in charge. E and I made sure that things were well orchestrated, but by the week before, we were really out of the driver’s seat. We had recruited friends and hired a few college students to run the parties, and once we were two days out, it was just our job to show up and smile. I had to be okay with being served, being loved, and not doing. That was a close second in terms of powerful pieces, after the ceremony. Other people are willing to—want to—step up and show how much they love you by doing tasks. I’ve done that for others for my whole life, but never received it in quite this focused a way.

So we had an amazing weekend, and as we drove upstate for a few days away with our novels and leftover lobsters, my face hurt from smiling so much. But when we came home a few days later, the comments began. “Hey married lady!” “How’s it feel to be tied down?” “Married life is different, eh?” etc. Innocuous, I know, but they make me crazy (not in the least because “lady” is just about the last word I’d use to describe myself). I shrug and smile and say, “Just the same as not-married life!” in as cheerful a tone as I can muster but it somehow never seems to be the response that they’re looking for.

I know people mean well by these comments. But to me, it seems like our relationship has remained steady throughout all this, and that the day that we celebrated it was a day that recognized something that already existed and continues to exist. It named and celebrated a bond between us that had been developing over the past few years and will continue over the rest of our lives. It’s not like one day changed anything dramatically. It’s not 1900; we already live together, we already share finances, we already fight about vet bills, we already have favorite dinner recipes, we already have navigated holidays. Post-marriage is exactly like pre-marriage but with our community’s smiles and tears and stamp of approval.

If there was a day when things in my life changed, it was when we met, or when we moved in together, or when we took tiny plastic cows home from the artisanal farm-to-table restaurant down the block to memorialize when we decided that we wouldn’t date other people.

Now that we’re a few months out, what I’ve realized is that the institution and all its baggage—language and practice around wives, marriage, engagement, etc.—don’t work for me, but ceremonies (or their more common and complicated name: weddings) do. The day when your community comes together, and affirms that it will stand by you and your partner through thick and thin. That they’ll continue to remind you that relationships take work and that you chose this path, and that they believe in that choice.

So that’s my one tiny concession to change, I suppose. After the ceremony, after the clambake, after our friends brought over 36 post-clambake tacos from the deli across the street, after drinking bourbon in our little neighborhood  bar, after walking home in the rain, after feeding the cats, all after of that, we went to sleep talking about that feeling of holiness. I know we’ve both been changed by this  experience and even more so by sharing it, and we’ll see how as our lives unfold together. I’m in favor of that.

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  • MTM

    This. “…the day that we celebrated it was a day that recognized something that already existed and continues to exist.”

  • I have to be honest, I usually really connect with Elisabeth’s pieces, but this one is not connecting. I feel like Elisabeth is saying actually other than her wedding ceremony, she doesn’t believe in anything else about the institution of marriage. And also she’s annoyed people asked her trite questions about being married.

    Also she doesn’t think anything has changed in her relationship.
    “Post-marriage is exactly like pre-marriage but with our community’s smiles and tears and stamp of approval.”

    Except she does,

    “I know we’ve both been changed by this experience and even more so by sharing it, and we’ll see how as our lives unfold together.”

    I’m just honestly confused and not sure what the actual point of this piece even is.

    • One More Sara

      Well that might be because this is written by K, Elisabeth’s partner…

      • Ha ha ha! Perfect. Miss one huge thing, miss the whole point! Ugh!

        Though to be fair, re-reading the piece again in K’s voice, doesn’t really clear much up for me. I still don’t get the point of this piece. Sorry K.

        • Elisabeth S.

          Hey HVB, I see how the title is misleading! I think (though don’t want to speak for K herself) that you’ve pointed out some of the struggles K is having with the institution of marriage itself; that she is trying to figure out how to exist within it — since she does want to be married to me — but simultaneously doesn’t identify with the expectations of it. Complicated.

          • I definitely empathize with K on trying to figure out how to exist within marriage – it is tough. My only advice is to stop. Stop trying to figure it out and just live in it. Personally, trying to figure it all out is making me cray cray. I’ve decided to just let it be what it is for now. Maybe at some point in my life I will understand why I got married, what it changed or didn’t change about our relationship, whether I was ready or whether getting married made me ready, whether or not I’m still supposed to have all these doubts – I may figure this all out, and I may never figure it all out. But at the end of the day, all that matters is how I live in this institution and that I’m ok with it. All that matters is how I live, not why I chose this path. That’s all that matters to me, at least.

          • Meg Keene

            I don’t know if it’s that easy for everyone. I mean: see, this blog. Reclaiming Wife exists because it’s not as easy as just stopping for me. Trying to balance what works (like K, the feeling of holiness), and what doesn’t (like K, the baggage around the institution), is just something my brain works on constantly.

            Interestingly, though, I think I have the same foundations as K (holiness works, cultural baggage doesn’t) and come to the opposite conclusion (holiness changes things, cultural nonsense does not, hence we are changed.)

            Anyway. This makes a huge amount of sense to me, since it’s more or less what I’m always always trying to figure out: with marriage, with parenthood, with all of it.

    • Gina

      I understand, I am having a hard time connecting too because she backtracks at the end and admits that she (and their relationship(?)) have been changed by the experience. That was confusing to me. The whole piece, I was thinking, “actually, we lived together and fought about vet bills too and I felt like marriage added a LOT–changed things, made things richer–and that’s WHY we got married!”

      I think it would be helpful to separate how she feels about her marriage, and how she feels about how OTHERS feel about her marriage. Because I totally get the push-back against the “validation” of your relationship if you feel that your relationship is already as valid as it gets. But if you don’t feel that marriage adds anything, that’s a bigger problem. For me, that’s where the confusion lies–which one is she talking about?

    • Not to be cheesy or put words in Elizabeth’s mouth, OR act like I know anything about marriage…but I feel like the change from the experience will come in the weeks, months, years to follow. As in, the wedding is for the marriage, not the magic wand of a single ceremony, but for the day in and day out. And as you live your life by someone’s side, year after year, things will shift and evolve and change. So maybe the ceremony itself didn’t wave a magic wand over their relationship and sprinkle married glitter, but the change will come in the choices you make as a team, a partnership, in the things you learn from longtime love.

  • EF

    Really appreciate the commentary about going about the whole institution….and as an introvert. both are hard to deal with things, and so are old fashioned expectations. Really great piece, thanks K. Please keep wearing awesome bowties.

  • Violet

    Hi K! I love hearing your perspective as well as E’s! I’m similar to you in that I didn’t feel ANY different after getting married. At all. Not that day, not since then. Not since referring to myself with a new last name, or to my partner as “husband.” I just feel exactly the same. I’m not sure why it is for me, maybe because I’m sort of a literal person? Like you, I felt different when things WERE different, like when we moved in together, etc. Anyway, I know what you mean when people ask me, “So how is it being married!?” all excited, and I just smile and say, “Exactly like being unmarried, so I’m very happy with it.” I feel like I’m letting them down, but on the other hand, I don’t much care. It’s my reality, so expectations just need to be adjusted.

  • Laura C

    I feel like those questions — how’s it feel to be tied down, how’s it different — are uncomfortable because they enforce a set of notions about what marriage is, and, as K points out, many of their assumptions are really dated. And, yes, I’m sure several of you will respond, or at least think, that I’m being unfair and people are just trying to show their interest and support. Which, probably so. But in ways that play into so many generations of “ball and chain,” “har har har, she’s the real boss” kind of stuff that. People can be well-intentioned, but we still need a new language around this and it’s uncomfortable to be implicitly told what the scripts are for thinking about your situation when they don’t fit your actual situation.

    • BreckW

      I completely agree. I try not to take it personally when people revert back to the outdated and depressing narratives we have for long term relationships (I’m not married) because, like you said, people just don’t have the language, but I try to put in a little extra effort to reframe things. Right now, I’m not working, but I handle all of the behind-the-scenes/at home stuff, so people will sometimes imply that my boyfriend wouldn’t be able to survive without me because he can’t cook/clean/fold laundry. I usually laugh and tell them he makes a pretty good turkey burger and is actually the clean one, but they’re probably right in that he’d be too sad to go on without me ;-).

      • Sarah E

        That’s a great way to deflect and give a boost to your partner. I try to do the same, something like “Oh, we always rely on teamwork to get things done” or some such positive sentiment.

      • Love this! My spouse travels a lot for work and my job requires no travel. This often leads to an imbalance of household work in a way that leaves me feeling unable to participate in feminist discourse around the sharing of household chores – I’m home more, so of course I’m going to be cleaning more. The teamwork aspect when my spouse IS home is wonderful, and I think I’ll try out your response (or a variation) next time there are implications that I’m a “housewife.” I’m a wife, I do housework, but those aren’t my definers.

      • malkavian

        I suffer from chronic illness, so I’m actually pretty terrified that people will attribute my reduced ambition due to that, when in truth I simply don’t have the energy reserves and endurance to pursue the things I wanted when I was well. In order for me to have any semblence of work-life balance, though, I’m going to NEED to pursue less intensive careers (ie, a more 9-5 job or teaching, not the 60 hour a week research work I was aiming for when I started a PhD). And I need work-life balance, because my hobbies are what grounds me and make me feel like a whole person. Not to mention, how people will perceive me if I get sick enough where I can’t work at all.

        • Jennifer

          I have chronic illness too. I was really ill the first year of our marriage and couldn’t do much of anything. This is part of why my husband prefers I only work part time. And while we DO take on traditional gender roles, it’s mostly because I personally prefer to cook and the cleaning drives me nuts long before it drives him nuts. And he’s better with numbers and balancing the bank account than I am. A lot of the time I feel like this makes me a lesser person in the eyes of society but at the same time it’s exactly what works for us.

    • malkavian

      I try to openly express my dislike for these ‘jokes’ if they’re brought up. Also, I make it a point to refer to my husband and myself as a team or partners, because that’s a better description of our relationship.

    • Lauren from NH

      I agree, I find the ribbing about relationship power dynamics rude, backwards, and patriarchal. My partner and I are in the middle of the name change discussion and for a multitude of reasons, I am all for the feminist route of him taking my name. I find it hugely frustrating that ‘people assuming he is “whipped”‘ actually makes it on the list of potential negatives of this naming option. I tell him, 1 anyone that thinks or says that is a disrespectful asshat and 2 you can just say it was a decision we made as a family, please respect our privacy – which would indicate to most decent people that they crossed a line and it is not up for discussion. And he logically agrees with this response, but emotionally, I think the outside judgment of “who wear the pants” weighs on him.
      I don’t find it well meaning or even neutral. You don’t just get to spew the party line and call it polite because everyone else says it. Mind your business and don’t make assumptions about people. (I might be a little worked up on this issue.) It can just feel like even though I found a very nice partner who is in no way trying to “lock me in the kitchen”, everyone else is happy enough to do it for him. Yeesh!

      • Laura C

        It is amazing the degree of outside policing applied on gender norms. I don’t get a ton of it personally due to having uber-feminist parents and mostly friends (and a lot of people being a little scared of me), but my fiance gets so much of it — like friends berating him for not getting me the ring I didn’t want and doing the big proposal I also didn’t want.

        • Lauren from NH

          You start to feel like saying, “By all means, talk behind my back if you feel the need to judge, but I don’t want to hear about how our relationship doesn’t conform to your expectations. We are trucking along just fine without your approval.”

          • Laura C

            This was what I put on Facebook after a brief “we’re getting married” sentence, which I think helped set the tone: “Some notes: There was no formal proposal as such. Nor is there an engagement ring. I didn’t want and don’t miss either of those things. Many of you have had big proposals and big engagement rings to which I said either ‘aww’ or ‘ooh, shiny.’ But they’re not for me.”

          • Lauren from NH

            Haha, clearly great minds think alike, I was also pondering a disclaimer for when we make it official. Something like…”Of the pictures we have posted, I am sure some of you have noticed you don’t see a ring, and you won’t. We think everyone’s engagement is personal and do not wish to feed into the Diamond Olympics, that simplifies loving partnership down to the size and monetary value of a single item, by posting a picture here. That said, we would be happy to show you OUR ringS and give you a little dose of context as to why they were right for us.”

          • copper

            I get the sentiment completely (I have a ring, but specifically insisted on non-diamond), but don’t think it’s necessary. The people who matter will get it, and the people who don’t get it don’t matter, to paraphrase Dr. Suess.

    • Alison O
  • TeaforTwo

    I have had a few people express similar sentiments to me about my own relationship – a lot of “well, you two are basically married already.” (Our wedding is in a little less than two weeks.) I always correct them, because I don’t feel married yet. I can’t speak to whether I’ll feel different on December 15th when we leave for our honeymoon, or two weeks or two years from then. But it is important to me that we are getting married, and it is important because I see being married as different from not being married.

    We live together already, our wedding night isn’t going to be any huge first, and we take care of each other in lots of important ways. But deciding to get married felt like a big decision to us, and I think that must mean that it’s more than an affirmation of and party to celebrate something that already exists.

    On the other hand, what I get from your writing, K, is that you weren’t jazzed about marriage, you were jazzed about E, who wanted to get married. E, I am interested in your perspective on this: do YOU feel like something important has changed?

    • Elisabeth S.

      Oh. Yes. Indeed, something has changed. We companionably disagree on this point. :)

      Perhaps the biggest change I notice is how other people perceive us, most of which has been incredibly positive (but, of course, is precisely the thing that K gets grumpy about). My dad, who has always stumbled over calling my girlfriends Girlfriends, immediately switched to calling K my spouse. And at Thanksgiving, my grandmother ooohed over the heirloom family ring I wear, and told us an involved story about a surgeon who gave up his practice to live in Costa Rica, which is where we’re going in a few weeks for a delayed honeymoon, and he’s gay too, and she hopes we can look him up. She loves K, but that’s one of the first times she’s indicated her awareness of us, in a Grandmotherly non-sequitur sort of way. Meanwhile back at work other people have asked how we navigated this first holiday as a married couple.

      There’s just this slight shift that makes me feel a whole lot more visible as a queer married couple, that people are making an effort to say, “I witness that you’ve made this commitment and in fact I am OK with you making that commitment” and that resonates with me. But this is where we diverge, because while I appreciate that increased visibility, I know it chafes K that it took a big old public ceremony to make people take us seriously.

      • Helen

        Agree! We’re getting gay married in June, and I’m looking forward to having the language and context for conversation that comes with that. I suspect it’ll give acquaintances, new friends and colleagues the opportunity to causally show their support/acceptance/indifference to the gayness in a way that would be sort of weird before: “I noticed that you have a girlfriend and I think that’s great!”. The added bonus is that it’ll be a big rainbow flag in the face of family members who are still hoping all of this is phase. Yay marriage!

  • js

    I think hearing how K is processing being married when it wasn’t something she wanted (but she wanted to be married to Elizabeth) is helpful. My husband pushed for the wedding, not me, and he liked it more than I did (This is a fact, not meant as sympathy-seeking.) But I also love being a wife, being married to him and loved having a wedding. Our attitudes didn’t change when we were married, other people’s did. We get more respect being introduced as married, whether it’s from family or strangers. I still get crazy over my husband’s very traditional family celebrating the year we’ve been married instead of the seven years we’ve been together. The times that stick out in my head that have cemented us happened when we were dating and then living together, not at the wedding. It’s true the people making the “ball and chain” comments most likely don’t know your love story, but it’s still unbearably ignorant. Trying to change that ignorance and educate people feels like screaming into a hurricane sometimes.

  • ruth

    Thank you for writing this, K! I relate so much to what you wrote: “I’m not sure how else to describe it but as holy—that place and that time felt the closest I’ve ever felt to that thin space that folks talk about where you can really know that there is some kind of force beyond just our physical selves.”
    As to those commentors who wrote about not ‘getting’ this piece, all I can say is that in the months after my own wedding, I have felt so many contradicory things, often simultaneously – I think ones relationship can be both the same and changed by marriage, one can be simultaneously awed by community support and also wierded out by out dated cultural expectations – and to admit that mixed bag of feelings is both humble and brave

  • scw

    I’m in a different stage of this process than k and elisabeth, and even have very different feelings than k, but this still really resonates with me this morning. my fiance and I got engaged a week before (us) thanksgiving after almost six and a half years of being together. we’ve been together so long that I didn’t really expect being engaged to change things. we’ve been actively planning for awhile now and most of our friends knew this was coming. still, my FH and I keep expressing to each other that we do feel a little different but can’t put our finger on why.

    something about reading k’s description of the community support she and elisabeth received helped me explain our feelings. the timing of our engagement meant we’ve been able to celebrate with many friends and family members we don’t usually get to see very often, and we’ve received many phone calls, emails, cards, etc. from those we haven’t been able to see in person. we’ve received so much love that I have been flat out overwhelmed at times and have ignored a few incoming calls (to which I have since responded). I’m an introvert myself so this part has not surprised me. but what has surprised- and changed- me is our community rising up to support and love us.

    my fiance is a man and I’m a woman so I know I can’t comment on some of the challenges and emotions k and elisabeth have/will experience(d). but that doesn’t stop k from totally nailing how I’ve been feeling about myself, my fiance, and our community these past weeks. thanks, k!

  • Kestrel

    While I haven’t gone through the actual wedding yet, I agree with the ridiculousness of the narrative that one day changes everything. It doesn’t. Everything changes gradually. There are no step-inputs in real life. Everything’s curved and wibbly-wobbly and gradual.

    I’m a controls engineer and one of the most basic ideas in controls is comparing your input (what you ‘want’) to your output (what you actually get). So lets say we want a motor to spin at 300rpm. What we want is for it to go from 0 rpm to 300 rpm immediately. But physically, that’s just not possible. You’ve got to ramp it up.

    Depending on how you control your motor, you could get it to ramp up before so when you want it spinning, it’s at full speed, or you could do it so it’s mostly spinning at full speed when you want it, or you could do it so that you turn it on when you want it at full speed. Depending on the application and specific motor, all of these are good options.

    I feel that’s similar to many relationships. People see weddings as this massive thing – this is when your motor should going full speed. And to many, they see it as instant. But some couples have already been full-speed for a while, others are still in the ramping up stage, and still others are now just turning their motors on. It really just depends on what marriage means to you and your partner.

    • Crayfish Kate

      That’s a great analogy :-)

  • SarahG

    The point about the baggage of the institution versus the power of the ceremony really resonates with me. I hate all that “ball and chain” crap. I feel like it’s almost a cover, in a way — people recognize what a huge emotional commitment marriage/lifelong commitment is, and sometimes their/our instincts are to joke and try to make it seem less than it is. I can understand the impulse, but I feel like the world would be a better place if people had more constructive. emotionally honest responses to “I got married”. Like, what was it like? What was your favorite part of the day? How are you feeling about it all, now that you can look back a bit? Or, you know, just “congratulations, that’s great” if you’re not actually close.

  • GA

    People were asking me if I felt different MINUTES after the ceremony. I said, “I mostly feel different because I’m wearing forty pounds of fabric.” I hadn’t given it time to sink in yet, the wedding was not the time to ask.

    In the weeks to come, the question kept coming back up. I’d give a light, giggly response. “Haha, no, we don’t feel TOO different!” If my mother was in the room, she’d pipe up with her usual, “That’s because they were living together first.” (She never had a problem with that, she says, and I guess I believe her, but she sure does bring it up a lot!)

    When my dad asked me That Question over Thanksgiving weekend–after giving us sufficient time to absorb the new communal identity, a couple of weeks post-honeymoon, after we’d gone back to our routine and we’d gotten used to wearing wedding rings–I realized he was asking in a different way than other people. Not in a wink-wink-light-elbow-to-the-ribs way. I simply said, “No.” A real question deserves a real answer. And without missing a beat, he said, “Good. That’s the way it should be.”

    I guess I was hoping to feel different, because I’m the type of person who craves change. I get antsy. But after letting that exchange sink in, I realized that I didn’t want my relationship to change just because it became a marriage. There are a lot of things that come with marriage, and we decided that for us there were more good things than bad things. That doesn’t mean our relationship changes, though, and nor do I want it to. In the meantime we ordered some new furniture and I cut my hair, handily reminding me that things WILL change, whether I want them to or not, and that having a relationship I can count on through all of it is the important part.

    • Paolo_Bandita

      THIS. Almost immediately after our wedding, people were asking me if things were suddenly, somehow, magically different now. And at first, when I answered them truthfully with “I mean, no, not really…” I felt like maybe that was a bad thing. Like I was missing out on some special “honeymoon period” I was supposed to be feeling. But then I realized that it ISN’T a bad thing to not feel any different. Things were great before and are great now (though, of course, not anywhere near perfect. we are both human, after all). We were a team before we were married and now we are still a team–albeit a now legally-bound one.

      I think the way things will be different will sneak up on us, or happen subtly over time, not at the snap of some fingers after saying the words “I do”.

      The more I think about the question “do you feel different now? more like a team?, etc” the more I think that it is a symptom of this idea some people have that getting married will fix their relationship. That marriage will suddenly make the other person change or something. People want to think that if they can just sprinkle that “magical marriage glitter” (see Catherine’s comment above… I loved her use of that phrase!) on their relationship that all their relationship problems will just go away. But I think marriage can just magnify those problems. It isn’t an easy fix. It is a difficult, though incredibly rewarding, road.

      I feel like I’ve begun to ramble now. I guess the long and short of it is: I used to feel like something was wrong because I didn’t feel different after our wedding. But now I realize that it is a good thing.

  • Mezza

    Oh, this piece is great, and I relate so much. I got married in October, and I still sort of get jumpy when random people (coworkers, acquaintances) ask that question about how it feels to be married (or refer to us as wives, but that’s a different issue).

    Because the answer is that it feels exactly the same! We’ve been together for 10 years and lived together for 6, and while the wedding was lovely (and I had the same issues as K re: being terrified of everyone from all parts of my life being together in one room), now that it’s over it just feels like we went back to the way things were. But that’s okay, because things were pretty awesome, and now everyone knows how awesome they are and has celebrated that with us.

    It’s always nice to know someone else feels the same way. I actually ran into a friend I don’t see often this morning, who just got married about a week ago (neither of us were invited to each other’s weddings), and the first thing he said was “how’s being married? exactly the same, right?” Yup.

  • Erin E

    A lot of this piece resonated with me, too… thanks, K. I feel you on the “introvert wedding” challenge, the “not wholly buying into the institution” challenge and the “what’s changed, really?” challenge. Marriage and a wedding, for me, have been a lot about reconciling my different (and often conflicting) opinions and beliefs about everything from the meaning of this commitment to the color of my napkins. It’s hard to navigate this “getting married” space. I think the best we can shoot for is to take what ends up resonating with us (like your moments of holiness) and let those feelings/memories be guideposts for the event. Thank you for sharing this.

  • People have asked me multiple times if if feels different and most of the time I say know and receive an odd look. Until this past weekend. A cousin of mine asked this dreaded question and I responded with my typical “no, not really,” and she said “good, it shouldn’t have.”

    A friend of ours (married) put it well when he said that, once you’ve decided you want to get married, you’ve already made the commitment in your hearts. So the act of getting married, the ceremony if you will, should serve as a public declaration of sorts. Not the bond that keeps you together, that should already be there.

  • copper

    I always respond, “Pretty much the same” to friends, but when family members ask I find myself pausing. I was relieved when one uncle prodded my pause with, “About the same right? That’s a good thing.” It was nice to hear someone who got it, and who recognized that it feeling pretty much the same just means, you were already pretty much married in your hearts already.

  • Parsley

    What strikes me is this both/and of no, of course nothing has changed, and yes, of course, something significant happened – that part about the holiness. And I think for me one of the disconnects is between the depth of what happened for me when I married my wife and the superficiality of the way the questions get asked. It’s a bit like being asked how you are in a superficial way on a day when either your world feels like it’s falling apart or the most amazing thing just happened. Like “fine” doesn’t cover it. As the post demonstrates, it’s not an easy question to answer if and how a wedding changed things – for individual or couple. So I tried to answer thoughtfully the people who were asking thoughtfully and quickly the people who were asking superficially. For us, anyway, people stopped asking pretty quickly and we could get back to being in a relationship with all of that wonderfulness and challenge.

  • Valerie Day

    Thank you for writing about holiness. And it seems to me it came in the presence of your community and the small mundane parts of being yourselves. I think being queer fundamentally changes some aspects of the wedding and marriage experience and I find people often confused over the otherness that is so “us” to us. What I hold in my mind is the sacred–and all of the tiny pieces that help us come together in that. Thanks.

  • Emily

    This is an interesting read, I love reading about different experiences of marriage and what it means. My partner and I Christians, so for us getting married is the moment when EVERYTHING changes – you finally get to live together, build a home together, share finances, and, yes, have sex. I know how old-fashioned it seems to everyone else and honestly I do feel a little embarrassed when people ask about it. But, it does make marriage all the more exciting, because all these firsts happen all at once, rather than gradually. Sometimes I wonder if I would prefer it to be more gradual, if it might be easier, but I do love that when people ask us, “So, do you feel different?” our answer will be a resounding “YES!” (Not least because we won’t be quite so sexually frustrated, ha)

  • SLW

    This is such a useful, validating piece. I fully anticipate getting the, “So, how does it feel?!” question once I am married, and I’ve often wondered why it’s so common to ask that of recently-married folks. It’s helpful to know that some people don’t feel any differently.

    That said, here’s a related question: Has anyone found that getting married makes you feel somehow…older? (Only grown-ups get married, right? Not 20-somethings who still get drunk and go to house parties and don’t own a car…Obviously this is tongue-in-cheek, but the point is serious.) ;)

    I ask because when my fiance proposed to me, among the many reactions flickering in my mind — between surprise, overwhelming excitement, and happiness — was a flash of the thought that somehow we aren’t old enough to be doing this. We’re 28, which seems plenty old, so I’m not sure where that thought came from. (That’s not entirely true — I’m sure it has something to do with Barbie and Ken and white picket fences and general societal expectations surrounding marriage.) Just curious whether anyone had a similar experience. I was surprised by it.

  • Joann L

    I love this! I feel the same way. I feel the exact same as I did pre-wedding (4 months ago) and at first, felt strangely about that– I’d read that you feel this seismic shift, or a penny dropped. I love that you say that your life changed the day you met her– not necessarily the day of your clambake. Same same same for how I feel about my guy.

  • Sharon M.

    Just got married a couple weeks ago after living together for 4 years, dating 5, and knowing each other 20. It doesn’t feel different, but at the same time it does. There’s a sense of security that wasn’t there before, in that I am now legally entitled to certain things should anything happen to him, whereas before the state would have handed everything to his parents – not that they would have shafted me, but now there’s that saftey net.