Reclaiming Wife: Growing Up

The Reclaiming Wife section of APW started after I got home from our honeymoon and started grappling about what it meant to be a wife. Turns out, all was as it should be. When we take on a new role, we wonder if we’re going to grow into someone we don’t recognize. What kind of adult are we going to become? And it turned out that worrying about creating married life that felt authentic to me was the smartest thing that I could have worried about. It forced me to make decisions that would let me grow, while becoming a better version of myself. If only this was something you could learn in one go. Because of course, I ended up with the same worries about parenthood, forgetting that the adult we become is hopefully a wiser version of the person we’ve always been—and our lives only as authentic as the hard work we put in to make them so.


by Katie M Anderson

Seven months ago I got married.

I know, I’ve said ‘I’ when you might expect me to say ‘we’. Getting married is about two people. It’s about standing up and making a public promise to love your chosen partner forever. But I want to talk about how getting married is also a personal thing. A singular thing. It’s about making a decision as an individual to become part of something bigger. For me, the shift from single to married seemed like a very big, very grown-up thing.

In the run up to the wedding there were a lot of things to worry about. There were tables to plan, speeches to write, dresses to have fitted, and bunting to sew. But if I’m honest, to me these things weren’t the cause of my stress. I was using them as camouflage to hide what I was really worried about: becoming a wife.

Let me step back a bit. Before I got engaged, I’d had twenty-three years of learning to be me. I’d built a fairly good understanding of what I liked and what I didn’t. I knew what made me laugh, and what made me cry. I’d learned how to drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of cake and how to make people smile. I knew how to act in a way that was expected of me. All of that was taken care of. The problem about becoming a wife was that I wasn’t sure what was going to be expected of me.

This isn’t the 1950s, of course, and my husband and I believe in marriage as an equal partnership. We already lived together and had shared routines and pooled finances. I wasn’t expecting there to be any visible changes in our post-wedding life. The real crux of the issue was that getting married seemed like sticking my hand up in the air and saying, “Hey! I’m an adult now!” As a fairly young bride (by this century’s standards, anyway) this was a scary prospect.

Logically, I knew that becoming a wife wasn’t going to bestow me with the magical secrets to adulthood. I didn’t really think that when my husband slipped a ring onto my finger I’d suddenly be filled with all the wisdom and confidence I associated with being truly ‘grown up’. But deep down I did believe that when I was a wife I needed to be more mature, and more sophisticated, and learn how to properly clean a bathroom. I thought that when I had a ring on my finger I’d need to be all the things that I wanted to be when I grew up.

I’ll tell you now: all those beliefs were a lot of pressure.

And then the wedding came. Snow fell in the early morning, but by midday it had turned into a bright, blue-skied October day. When I stepped into my long white dress, I felt younger than ever. But there was a shift that day. In between walking into the church and walking out of it again, I became a wife. What I should’ve known all along was that I didn’t need to change anything about myself to do that.

I thought that getting married was the marker that would signify my final step into ‘real’ adulthood. But there is no marker. Like everyone else, I’ll keep on feeling like an adult ‘in training’ until some point in the future when I realise I’m not pretending anymore. It will be a gradual process, a slow dawning, not something that happens symbolically at a milestone life event.

My new husband and I will meander our way into true adulthood together. Somedays we’ll feel more grown up than others. Sometimes we will feel sophisticated, and sometimes we’ll eat on the sofa wearing pyjamas. And who will I be as a wife? I’ll start as the person I am right now.

Photo from Katie’s wedding by Ian Martindale

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  • Yes to all of this! As another young bride to be (engaged at 23, I’ll be 25 when we get married) I know what you mean about the difficulty of doing something that feels so Adult while also not feeling so grown-up in my everyday life. It’s also been tough in relation to wedding planning, while I’m still trying to navigate my “not a kid anymore” role with my family. This will definitely be a post I re-read many times. Congrats on the first seven months, and cheers to the many years ahead!

    • Catherine

      I can totally relate! I just got engaged on my 23rd birthday and to me it does feel like a giant leap into adulthood. Goes much deeper than that, actually, for me. It’s making me accept the fact that my childhood is really over, that time is passing, life is moving on, my parents are aging..making me face mortality in a way…So many things are hitting me like waves crashing. It’s really making your own family and leaving your original one. I am having a hard time dealing with parents (ahem, MOM) accepting that I am a young adult and able to make life decisions and like you said “not a kid anymore”.

  • One More Sara

    Looooooooved this whole post, but the sentence “In between walking into the church and walking out of it again, I became a wife” gave me the chills. It made me think about all the times I’ve walked in and out of my church, but come August, something is going to happen in that sanctuary that I’ve sat in for so many Sundays. I’m going to become a wife, and my partner will become a husband.

  • Rachel Wilkerson

    Love, love, love this post! I too struggle with the adulthood perception of “adult” because inside, I still feel like me. I actually felt this more acutely when we were thinking of buying a house vs getting engaged…for Eric, it was the opposite. It was also really hard for me to feel comfortable buying a car; I just felt too young. For both of us, having someone else cheering us on, someone who saw us from the outside and could say, “You ARE an adult, you so got this” was really helpful. And like the post said, we sort of gradually just became our adult selves through all these events, big and small.

    • The car. I am 36 and my several years younger husband had to coax and coach me through our recent car purchase because sadly I too, didn’t feel old enough to be making such a big purchase. The idea of taking on more debt than I could pay off in 1-3 pay cycles totally freaked me out!

      When do you stop feeling too young for stuff? Because the only thing I’m still too young for is social security.

      • Jashshea

        This was the exact point I came here to make! I turn 35 in July and I’ve done the car and the house buying-stuff, but I still feel like I’m playing dress up sometimes.

      • Caroline

        I was talking about this once with some friends my parents age at my synagogue, and I was saying something like “I don’t feel like a real grownup yet.” Their answer was along the lines of “you’re mistaken if you think we do feel like we are truely grown up and have it figured out all the time.”

        • Brenda

          My husband’s grandmother, on her 100th birthday this past January, said “I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 16. And then I stand up.”

          I don’t think we ever really feel like grownups!

          • Class of 1980

            I’ll be 55 this August, and I certainly don’t feel like a real grownup.

            Might as well get used to it. ;)

    • Ann

      A year ago, I was in an accident that totaled my old car. The car that my parents had “sold” to me when I was 18 for far less than it was worth. I dealt with the police, my insurance company, the other insurance companies, etc, all on my own. My dad was in town for just a couple of days, and I insisted he come with me to help me buy a new car. I issued the protest “I’ve been SO GOOD at being a grown up so far, but I just NEED a parent,” and it was a good thing he came with me. I picked out the car, negotiated, etc, all on my own, but I nearly threw up when I wrote the check! It was less the idea of buying a car and more the idea of SO MUCH MONEY getting handed over all at once. Apparently I was vaguely incoherent for about 10 minutes after signing that check…

      At 24, writing a five figure check was terrifying. A year later, writing a couple of checks in the high 4 figures for the wedding feels like a breeze!

      • Rachel Wilkerson

        Yes to “I just NEED a parent.” I couldn’t have bought my car if my mom hadn’t coached me through it!

        • Rachel–I bet there are still moments when your mom feels like she needs a parent too!

          • Hintzy

            yes to that! my mom has said how much she loves it when I call her for a reminder on how long or how hot to cook something in the oven for just that reason :) it’s good to be needed sometimes.

          • Ann

            Hintzy–yes! Some parents definitely want to be needed. Since I moved across the country at 18, I’ve been super independent. I’ve figured almost everything out on my own (sometimes with the assistance of Google…), and my mom pointed out that my dad was very happy to be able to be there and be a parent for me.

            One thing that has made me really feel like an adult is having a job where I am responsible for the wellbeing of teenagers. They look up to me, come to me for advice–the same way I go to older and wiser people around me. Being “grown up” is a relative thing–we all seek out people around us who can help us through transitions and offer us advice.

    • We’re saving for a down payment on a house right now and we’re on track to be looking at houses next tax season and even though it’s so far away the very idea of buying a house makes me feel so young. There’s no way I’m “adult” enough to be entrusted with a six figure loan, even with the house as collateral. And at the same time, so many people my age already do own houses so I know that isn’t true.

      I’m also just learning how to drive (at 28) which simultaneously makes me feel old (how do I not know this already? teenagers do this!) and young (are you sure you should trust me with this thing? it could hurt people!). That one’s a bit of a mindbender.

  • Yes, definitely to the whole “when am I an adult” thing. I feel like I do nothing but struggle and struggle to set up my life the way I want, which seems to me a very adolescent-type struggle. I never quite feel like my age. Or perhaps I just have arbitrary expectation about what being 25 is supposed to feel like.

    At any rate, it’s odd, because I don’t quite see myself as an adult without some modifier (like “young”), whereas my partner, who met me when I was 21, has only ever viewed me as an adult. Weird.

  • This post made me smile and think about the last time I didn’t feel like an adult. Sadly, when I was 13 it was like I was going on 40. I sometimes wish that I had allowed myself to luxuriate more in feeling young and carefree instead of weighing myself down with so much gaddamn responsibility.

    Here are a few things that I take as sure signs I am an adult:

    1. I find myself grousing about “kids these days” only to realize that those “kids” are 25-30. Holy Gen X/Millenial gap!
    2. My daughter has boobs. And her period–WHAT!?
    3. Sometimes when I open my mouth my mother comes out.

    I think another litmus test for me has been looking back and having no desire to repeat a younger phase of my life. I wouldn’t re-do my twenties for anything. They were amazing, but do over? Nah (though I sure wish I had spent less time hating my body, since every day it seems to be the best it will ever be again!). My thirties have been awesome but also super-intense in their own way. I guess we are constantly becoming as we face ever-bigger challenges and take on responsibilities that have the power to influence others’ lives.

    All said, there are certain things about me that never seem to change–I LOVE dancing, impractical shoes, anything rhinestone-encrusted, bright colors, bite-sized food, British afternoon tea and dressing up for Halloween. I always sit cross-legged and will always dig into a good craft project. I still want to visit the gift shop. I never want to be too grown up for any of that!
    Also? I never want get too grown up for a sense of wonder and delight. And I still get periodically gleeful about the heady truth that I can have WHATEVER I WANT for dinner–because I AM AN ADULT and it’s MY HOUSE!

    • #3 SO MUCH.

      Also, I hear you on the last sentence- it was a fantastic feeling post-college to have a car and realize I can just go places whenever I feel like it

      • Cleo

        “And I still get periodically gleeful about the heady truth that I can have WHATEVER I WANT for dinner–because I AM AN ADULT and it’s MY HOUSE!”

        YES! So much yes! When I was 23, I had a craving for Snickerdoodles at 10:30pm. So I went to the 24 grocery store, got the ingredients, and made some. Then, I ate a couple. At 1am. That was the first time I truly felt like an adult. Sometimes it’s the little things.

        • That’s really interesting, because the night that C and I got a chocolate craving and rolled into the liquor store just before it closed then went to the 24 hour grocery store to buy ingredients for brownies made me feel like I was back in college.

  • Very yes to the entirety of this post! It was a great conversation-starter for the hubs and I (as APW entries have a tendency to do).

    While the shift from fiancee to wife felt personally profound, it didn’t have any age-based connotations for me. My husband, on the other hand, claims that he felt akin to the author of this post and was awash in self-created pressure to be “adult”. Though we weren’t especially young when we got married (29), the transition had added cultural significance for my husband as, per Chinese tradition, you are only considered an actual adult once you get married (so you no longer receive red envelopes at Chinese New Year).

    He claims that the shift to being a husband has been an excellent tool for self-discovery. As Meg described, the act of marriage has been the impetus for him to look for ways to grow and improve.

  • Just another thought. One of the wisest pieces of advice I ever got was an older friend telling me that everybody feels like they are flying by the seat of their pants a good percentage of the time. She said if you really feel like you know what you’re doing it’s time for a new challenge, because you probably aren’t growing as much as you could be.

  • carrie

    Just want to chime in here and say that from this 36 year old who has bought a condo and two cars and gotten married and lots of other “grownup” things, I definitely still feel like I’m playing in my mom’s closet about half the time. It’s comforting to know that a lot of others feel the same way.

    So hold on tight to yourself and your partner and try to have fun along the way!

  • Jen

    “But deep down I did believe that when I was a wife I needed to be more mature, and more sophisticated, and learn how to properly clean a bathroom”

    You mean that after we’ve taken our vows we DON’T automatically know how to clean limescale from the bathroom taps? Holy moly- that’s the only reason I’m getting married!

    Can we APW’ers start leaving a cleaning tip in the bottom of our comments? I know we’re not all 1950s housewives, but knowing precisely NO housewives, and the proper cleaning of an abode is not a popular subject in my peer group, I also have NO IDEA how to clean anything properly.

    Don’t worry, I give it all a good go, but no matter how hard I clean something, there always seems to be one bit of dirt left over, one crease in the t-shirt too many…

    And how, can I ask, does one clean the cleaning products???
    Sorry, totally off point. Exactly to the rest too. xx

    • Jashshea

      Internet is your friend here! Our shower has WHITE tile (which ought to be outlawed) and the grout line was always scummy-looking and uncleanable (even w/bleach) because it shouldn’t be scrubbed too hard. I googled “how to clean grout” and the internet said bleach and hair-perm cotton. Works like a charm.

      • Rebecca

        Apparently you are also supposed to seal grout? We rent and I can’t be bothered, but I’ve heard that if you seal it it stays cleaner longer.

    • TH

      When in doubt – vinegar. If really disgusting, baking soda. At least for many things, but yes google will be your friend when it comes to cleaning things.

    • I had some very good luck with the Nest on this one. As whatever as the Knot is, the Nest was the place that had tips on, for example, how to dust, and how to make sure things look clean.

      My husband’s cleaning tip to me, when I complained that the kitchen never looked as clean when I cleaned it as when he did, was that I should try lifting the things on the counter and cleaning under them, rather than trying to clean around them. It’s worked really well.

      For t-shirts, fold your laundry while it is still warm to reduce the creases.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      UFYH is my favorite place for general cleaning advice and cheerleading. This stain guide is my bookmarked for all my spills. And my parents have an old copy of the consumer reports book on their shelf.
      But really, vinegar.

  • Samantha

    Wow, so maybe not feeling grown up is why I keep feeling like I’m too young to get married. I’m 24, 25 at the wedding. My fiance laughs when I say I’m too young to get married, but I guess it has more to do with not feeling adult enough. I like that. Makes more sense than age being a factor. Because 25 is NOT too young to get married.

    • Brenda

      I’m pretty sure by the time I feel old enough to have babies I’ll be too old to actually have babies!

      • Becca

        Amen, Brenda! I liken having kids one day to jumping off of a diving board or some other fear inducing activity. I’ll be in no way ready for it nor mature enough but here goes!

      • Yes! I was just talking to my husband about this the other day. I’m almost 30, and I constantly volley back and forth between “babies need to happen NOW” and “definitely no babies for YEARS.” I guess eventually we’ll just have to throw ourselves headlong off that cliff and pray.

  • Daisy6564

    As we were approaching college graduation, my roommates and I started conducting an informal survey of people who we viewed as adults (mostly our parents) as to when they started to feel like adults. The answers differed quite a bit. For some it was getting their first job, for some getting married, for some not until they had their own children.

    Personally I realized I was an adult at about 24. I was finally self-supporting (no $ help from parents or my volunteer program) and I could do whatever I wanted. I was a teacher at the time and I remember hearing one of my students talk about an uncomfortable situation she was dealing with at home. I realized how little power children often have over their own lives. I had all the power over my own life (or as much as one can ever have) so I relished being a true adult. Or, as I called it at the time, a “Grown @ss Woman.”

    One thing that was very important to me was to be a fully functional adult before I shared my life with another person. This could be a cause or an effect of the fact that I matured romantically last. Even so, I made sure that I learned everything I could about cars, building, tools, and other necessary life skills that are often considered male domains. I wanted to be functional on my own, without a partner, before I could embrace having a partner. I also wanted a partner who was fully functional without me. I don’t want to “mom” another adult. Luckily I found a man who can take care of himself.

    The final stage of my becoming an adult has been realizing the lack of a true safety net. Up to a point I had no reason for fear because the model I had seen was that my parents (or I assumed someone, the government? law enforcement?) would step in and help me if I had a real problem. As I come up on 29 in a few days, I realize more than ever that everyone is just winging it and that as an adult I have to save my own rear because no one else is going to do it for me.

    • Slade

      All kinds of Exactly to this. I spent my first couple of years after college broke as hell and had to accept a ton of help from other people (including the government) to make ends meet. I started feeling like an adult when I was finally able to pay my rent checks on my own, without stressing about it, and while knowing where the next rent check would come from. I was like, “Look at me, bitches! I’m a self-sufficient adult!”

      I may have actually yelled that on couple of occasions. (Oh, white wine, you winsome devil.) And it took years for that joy to erode into habit every time I wrote a check to pay for my own living space.

      I also feel you on growing up last in my love life. That’s been a rough ride, and only recently does it feel like I might actually be able to have a functional relationship with another human.

      • Lib

        I did definitely shout many a time that I was “A Grown @ss Woman!” Both in an out of context. As in when dealing with utility companies “I’m not going to put up with this, I’m a Grown @ss Woman!”

        I also used that line with my husband-to-be pretty early on in our relationship. I made it clear that I was not to be trifled with. I highly recommend it. :)

  • When my boyfriend proposed last year (at 28), I said yes, and then I said, but you can’t marry me, I’m only eight years old! It was a joke but some part of me still felt that way. One of my favorite things about my now-fiance is that he makes all the seemingly scary things about growing up truly fun, adventurous, and safe.

    I love the tone of this piece–the serenity of it. Congratulations!

  • Moe

    As a very old and not-so-wise 40 I could have easily written this same post, except I thought that when I turned 30 I would somehow transform into a wise and responsible woman. But no, I still made the same relationship mistakes. I was still in debt. I still forgot to have my car washed regularly.

    Similar to you, I’ve only been married 10 months and I frequently tell my husband in exasperated moments “I don’t know how to be married, I’m still trying to figure this out!” If anything I can say that I’ve learned to be more forgiving of myself. I get the rest of my life to learn to be married to this man of mine and I’m ok with that. Perhaps that’s a part of adulthood, becoming aware of your own shortcomings and facing up to the process of living with them instead of trying to achieve an unrealistic standard of perfection.

  • Daisy

    I have been married a year, my husband is a year older then I am but sometimes, it feels like he is decades older then me, in a good way. He has always been a very responsible, serious individual, level headed, great work ethic, carries the weight of the world on his shoulders sometimes.

    I am the opposite end of the spectrum. I am dramatic, silly, giggly, emotional, and very child like. Potty jokes still make me laugh, and when I laugh, it is with my whole sometimes naive heart. We are great balances for each other.

    During our engagement period, I casually made a comment that I didn’t want to grow up and be an adult yet and I was scared marriage would force me into it. My serious husband (well, fiance) at the time told me that it was time for me to grow up. He didn’t mean it in a way that meant he wanted me to change the way that I was, but he said it in his own matter-of-fact way, because I was almost 28 and needed to face that I was “technically an adult.” I cried. A lot.

    I felt ridiculous but I was mourning my childhood, to being a kid. I begged him to not make me an adult, but he said it was time. I had a really, REALLY hard time accepting this.

    One year later, I am still a kid. I burp at the dinner table when it’s just us, I still make and laugh at potty jokes, and I still have the amusement of a little kid whose exploring the world as it is. But at the same time, I run to the grocery store after a long day at work when I’m exhausted and want to curl up in bed, I do dishes when I’d rather be watching a movie, I clean up more after myself. Because even though I have the heart of a child, I am simultaneously someone’s wife. That means something biting the bullet, muting the complaints, and doing things to make my husband happier and in the end, both of us happier. I have found a way to be a kid and an adult.

    And I am happy to report that I think marriage has made him more of a child too. He laughs more at potty jokes and sometimes farts out loud just to crack me up, something he NEVER would have done, when we first met.

    • I love everything you said here because it felt like me too, although I’ve never feared growing up. I never really thought about wanting to grow up or be an adult because I needed to be independent at a young age so in a lot of ways I’ve been a grown up a long time now.

      So for me, the goal has always been to stay young at heart and naive and full of wonder at everything. In some ways, I think its harder to keep feeling that way, when life hits you with the legit ass stuff, like death and illness and loss and pain. It doesn’t matter what I’ve been through or what I’m capable of if I can’t still enjoy the hell out of an afternoon at the zoo where I get a snow cone AND cotton candy AND a stuffed animal. So far, I absolutely can and my kid at heart husband helps and hopefully becoming parents will help with that as well.

    • KC

      On the being-grownup-doesn’t-necessarily-mean-not-having-fun side:


      • Daisy

        OMG LOVE IT!!!!!!

        Being an adult means getting to eat only cookies for dinner too!! So sometimes being an adult means overindulging in the kid stuff. I love it.

    • Catherine

      I love this. I don’t think you realize all the things marriage or engagement will make you face and realize until it actually happens. I am engaged right now, and mourning the loss of the childhood, my prior relationship to my parents, and taking full responsiblity for myself as a “grown up” has been huge! To me, it’s like the biggest stand you make – to make this huge life altering decision on your own and make the biggest promise you could ever make…if that doesn’t make you realize you are a grown up, I don’t know what does!

    • Sara

      This reminds me so much of a recurring conversation I have with my aunt Mary.
      She was married at 20, had her first kid at 21. She is currently 40 with seven kids.

      When we hang out, and I drink coffee, she claims she can’t touch coffee because its a ‘grown up drink’. And then she claims that I’m more of an adult than she is (for the record I’m 26). I keep telling her that I’m pretty sure having seven kids qualifies you as an adult, but she always responds that you’re only as old as you feel. Since she doesn’t feel like an adult, she must not be one. Logic.
      (She also laughs at potty humor, which is great since her two year old Ben is the king of it.)

  • NTB

    As usual, a very timely post for me. Thank you for sharing this story because I truly feel the same way after being married for almost a year.

    The challenge for me was growing up, too. In the process of planning the wedding, everyone told me not to stress over the flowers or the cake or my dress. When I would melt down at any point in my year-long engagement, I would receive a lecture from one of my friends about how I shouldn’t stress about the wedding. But as the author of this post points out, I wasn’t stressed about the wedding. I was scared shitless of becoming someone’s wife. Not in a bad way, but I was just very apprehensive about the growing up, emotional transition part.

    The reasons for my fears are many: I have suffered from severe anxiety for the last 8 years and have always relied on my amazing parents for support. I never dreamed that I would ever find a partner who would accept me for who I am, and who would be willing to help me through the many ups and downs of my depression and anxiety. Well, I did find an amazing, accepting man, but it was a huge transition to learn to rely on my spouse for emotional support instead of running to my parents when things got unbearable. I am extremely close with my parents and making this emotional shift has been the hardest thing about being married…for me.

    It is still a transition even after being married for a year. But I do feel like I have grown as an individual in my marriage up to this point, and there is still so much growing to be done and lots of work to do.

    • Daisy

      OMG, being someone’s wife is so scary, right?! I totally agree with you.

      From my experience, being scared to be a wife is often misconstrued as being scared that you aren’t marrying the right person, but this is SO. NOT. TRUE.

      Being a wife is the biggest responsibility in life to accept, second only to being a mother, in my eyes…. And that is HUGE. I think it’s okay to be scared because it means that you understand the magniture of the commitment you are making not only to your significant other, but to yourself. I once had a friend tell me that she didn’t care if her husband was mad at her for reacting the way she did because in her words “he chose to marry me”. Well yes, he chose to marry her, but you are choosing to marry him, and to accept this committment. Which means sometimes trudging through crap, to doing chores you don’t want to do, to be selfless, loving, responsible, even if you don’t feel like it. Because you know it’s for something bigger and better. But IT IS REALLY SCARY!!!! I felt like I was taking on a whole other person’s happiness when sometimes I feel like I can’t always make myself happy. And this is only half true, I think everyone is responsible for their own happiness but it still felt that way when I accepted the proposal/

      But anyways, I get it. I love that you were able to admit of being scared because it is scary. Even if you know you’re marrying the perfect person for you :) I am also apparently very opinionated on this subject, I’ve never written this much on APW before :)

      • NTB

        YES! Misconstrued, indeed. One of my friends told me that if I was so stressed out about getting married, I shouldn’t do it at all. I really had to get over the ‘well, if it’s not perfect–if this person isn’t PERFECT–I should just forget about getting married.’ Because the hard reality that I had to grow up and face was (is) that I am NOT PERFECT myself. I am far from perfect. Marriage takes all kinds of sacrifice, maturity, and responsibility–and I am still (still!!!) learning this the hard way 12 months into my marriage.

        The happiness piece that you speak of is very much an issue for me. I fear that my husband isn’t happy for some reason because of me. But one thing that has helped me is to remember that we are all really responsible for our own happiness…in marriage and in life. (Unless we’re talking about serious issues/abuse/emotional neglect or something of the sort.) Like, I have made an effort recently to accept things about my husband and move on instead of dwelling on them and letting them make me unhappy. He is who he is, I love him for who he is, we are both going to f*** up all the time, but I wouldn’t change a thing. But man…it has taken a lot of tough conversations and personal reflection to come to these conclusions. It just takes time to adjust to the transition. Right? ;)

        • Catherine

          Exactly to this! I think one of the most damaging false beliefs in our society is the idea that your partner is responsible for your happiness, that *someone else* “fills you up.” That we are addicted to the infatuation stage- and then what? Exactly what you said, unless there is abuse (duh!) or some real unresolved issue, it is not your partner’s job to fill you up! That is not something to count on. Something I am learning in therapy and that has been quite an eye opening revelation is that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN FEELINGS. It sound so simple, but it’s really a huge and rarely accepted concept. Owning that has changed the way I deal with my mother, how I see her, and how I take on her emotions. Relying on someone else to make you feel things and fill you up is setting yourself up for failure.

          That might sound depressing, but in a way it is very liberating! As long as my partner and I continue to work together for the common good of us and no one cheats or does anything extremely destructive, there is no reason why we can’t be together forever! Once you accept responsibility for how you feel, you are free and empowered. :) Sorry to vent about my mother, but if she could only understand that, her whole life would change!

  • I finally felt like a grown up this year, when money stopped scaring the ever loving sh*t out of me. When bills come in the mail, and I no longer feel the need to hide them somewhere and hope they disappear, which is how I felt for years. During that time, I almost always had the money to cover these bills; the fear had more to do with responsibility itself. It feels good to relinquish fear.

    On another note, whenever my mother stays over my house, if she asks silly questions like “Can I use the bathroom?” “Can I have some coffee?” my fiance loves to tell her, “You’re an adult! You can do whatever you want!” which makes her laugh every. single. time. It’s one of my favorite things about their relationship.

  • Talk of “growing up” always reminds me of Gilmore Girls when Rory talks about acting like a “real grown-up”

    Then Lorelai tells her: “You know the one thing grown-ups don’t call themselves? Grown-ups. They call themselves adults and they pronounce it ah-dults”

    Nearly all my life lessons come from this show.

  • Teresa

    I was talking with my MIL this weekend (my SIL had just had a baby) about her first pregnancy and how they found out that there was something wrong with the baby and she had to immediately have a C-section. She said after they broke the news to her, she remembered the nurse telling her that her mother was outside in the waiting room, did she want her to come in? And she said that she did want her mother, but that she knew that her husband needed her to need him and that she thinks that choice really impacted their marriage. It made me think a lot about how being married has changed my relationship with my mom and with my husband, which I feel, for me, goes hand in hand with the transition to adulthood. In many ways, at 28, I feel like an adult–I’ve been financially independant for many years–but emotionally, I still feel that I rely heavily on my mom. I talk to her on the phone every day, when there is something I am unsure about, I call and ask my mom. I have found this changing in the months since my wedding, but I’m not sure that I am I am in a place where I could have made the choice that my MIL made (and she was only 23!).

  • Not Sarah

    I remember when I was first out of college, telling my mom that I was too young to get married (I was 21) and her telling me I wasn’t. (I think she’s worried I’ll turn into my dad who refused to get married until he was 30.) I think I finally feel like I’m not too young to get married.

    A few years ago, on a long weekend, my boyfriend at the time and I had two polar opposite dates on back-to-back nights. The first one, we dressed up really nicely (him in nice pants and a button-down shirt, me in a dress and heels), went out to a fancy restaurant, and walked around the lake. The second one? In jean shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops, we drove to a mall, grabbed food, and saw a movie. I felt like we were in high school!

    I’m turning 25 in another month and a half. I’m finally starting to not feel like I’m too young to be doing stuff, mostly. Or maybe I just don’t think about it as much. I’m now getting closer to getting ID’d 50% of the time rather than 98% of the time. I get super excited over that, more so than pretty much anyone else…

    I’ve pretty much always wanted to be an adult since I was a kid. Being an adult is the best thing ever, even though it’s definitely still a work in progress.

    • Sara

      Yes! I always thought I was going to be a better adult because I wasn’t as good at being a kid – too serious. (or so I was told) I’ve found that I enjoy being an adult much more. My late twenties have been so much better than anything before.
      Though sometimes I feel like I’m still in college – like when I have wine and popcorn or ice cream for dinner. It always makes me feel like I’m getting away with something.

      • Not Sarah

        College was a million times better than high school and life has definitely been getting better since then (except the part where I fail at ambiguous life planning) and I have a feeling it will only get better from here. Thanks for your comment that your “late twenties have been so much better than anything before” – I have a feeling that that will be the case for me as well. I can already feel it! I think I’ll be one of the few people I know to be happy about turning 30 ;)

  • I think we all experience impostor syndrome when it comes to being an adult, but this recent TED talk really resounded with me – I actually don’t generally have a problem identifying as an adult (nor did I before I got any of the general markers of adulthood – what a friend calls the Three Ps – Property, Pets, and a Person), but a lot of my friends do. I think it does us a disservice (especially as women) to wander around saying “I’m a kid, everything I do isn’t counting right now because I’m only 26!”

  • april

    We were already well into our 30s when we got married, and I think both of us had that smug thought going into it: “We’re older – not 20. We’re grown-ups…” Um…yeah – not so much. Turns out eight years of co-habitating does not a marriage make. But the good thing was that those first two years we struggled with actually being MARRIED were the years where we really learned more about ourselves, each other and what marriage for us actually meant. And THAT felt “grown-up”.

    The next big milestone that totally made us feel like adults was when we bought our house. Even now, two years post-purchase, we’ll be sitting on the sofa, watching Mad Men and husband will turn to me and say, “Can you even freaking believe we OWN this place!?” Probably because we’re still half-paranoid about a 30-year mortgage, and worried the bank is gonna knock on our door and tell us it was all a dream. HA HA!

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