My hubby, Sam, and I recently got married this past September and giiiiiiirl, let me tell you!!! From being engaged, wedding planning, the ceremony, to the honeymoon, it was truly the best time of my life! It was all SO much fun and full of joy, stress (but good stress, you know?), love, and the unknown! I didn't read any "what to expect when you get married" books. Simply because I didn't think I needed any advice! We did pre-marital counseling and enjoyed those talks with our pastor, but that was the extent of our preparation!
The major things I focused on for getting married were that the man I'm marrying is my person and I love him endlessly and to remember that the wedding will be over in a blink of an eye so I need to enjoy every second of it, even the moments filled with pressure. I am only doing this once and I knew it was going to be a lifelong journey full of learning and growing together - through good times and hard times.
What I didn't think about was all of the little details that come with being married! Marriage is not just about having a wedding, honeymoon, getting a house, having a baby, and raising children. Those are aspects of it, yes, but those are the EXTERNAL factors to a married lifestyle. What I am talking about are the INTERNAL factors that change when you start an actual MARRIAGE.
The internal factors are the emotional, personal, or mental reactions that occur when you experience an external change. External factors are the physical life-changing things that you may experience. For example, you may end up making large purchases together, like a couch or house, which possibly entails sharing a bank account or having more conversations about money. This may lead to new feelings or conversations displaying that you and your spouse have different values. The key is to have conversations about what you value; with money, health, material items, etc. That s exactly what Sam and I did!
In the past 4 months of marriage, I have noticed these three things have shifted within our relationship. Before I get into each change, I would just like to provide some background.
The month we got married, many changes happened. Changes that actually had nothing to do with the fact that we got married! These changes were all EXTERNAL factors that were shifting and we just happened to be getting married around the same time (ironic, right?!).
We both changed jobs - an opportunity opened up for me the month before our wedding, I interviewed, and was presented with the job offer the week before - talk about stressful! I took the job and started the week after the honeymoon! Sam was on terminal leave from the Navy right before our wedding and then was discharged from Active Duty the month after.
With job changes, came finance changes. We both changed our income levels and we started earning less than we usually earn. With that being said, the first month of marriage (after a wedding and honeymoon) were pretty tight. We also got a puppy the month before the wedding... I will admit the timing was not great, but we would not change a single thing about it! We also turned in two cars and bought a new Jeep!
The changes below were the actual changes we noticed in the emotional/mental areas of our relationship after getting married and some tips on how to help:
-We experienced a change in our financial dynamics. I have always been the organizer of finances for our rent, cable, and utilities but never for our income, savings, or debts. When the events that I mentioned above took place (job changes, getting a dog, new car, etc.), finances automatically became more strict. On top of all the new things on our plate, we got married and then our financial perspective shifted a bit. For example, when purchasing items, it is now our money or now our debt. We now see it like: what's mine is yours and vice versa. It can be pretty tough at first to talk about finances with your spouse, especially because in every relationship there is usually one person more comfortable with the finances than the other. Before, it was "this is Tal's, and this one is Sam's." Now, we look at our income and debts as a shared pot of money and discuss what we will spend OUR funds on. It is all about respect and transparency with your partner and we learned this very early on! It could be uncomfortable at first, but it is a 50/50 contribution and a two-way street, regardless of the amount of money involved from each person. Realizing "what you make is now what WE make" was very eye-opening and gave us a whole new financial perspective.
Tip: Start discussing finances with your partner. Share your perspective of how you think finances should be taken care of when you are married vs. how they are before. Ask yourself questions like: "Do we need to combine bank accounts?" or "Who is going to be in charge of the finances or is it a joint effort?"
-Because we are ten times stronger in our commitment due to marriage, we realized that we no longer use "filters" when talking to one another. When asking for opinions or asking about certain topics, we no longer use the gentle, watered-down, or soft versions of saying something that might offend or hurt the other's feelings. Of course, we are not intentionally hurting one another with our words, but now it is a more raw and real response. We noticed this because Sam is usually not as harsh or straight-forward when answering opinionated questions. So since we've been married, when asking him his opinion, he is straight-up and honest to the core and it was a little shocking at first! I am a pretty sensitive girl and didn't notice that Sam was being filtered in the first 3 years of dating. So when he started being so blunt, I was a little hurt and took things super personally. But now, when he is honest and straight forward, I learned to adjust to that! Obviously, this has some pros and cons to it. But at the end of the day, I will always prefer open and honest against filtered answers. Sam wants me to know what's on his head and heart now more than ever before and now that we are married and more committed, he doesn't have to worry about filtering his answers. I never asked him to filter things, but he did automatically because when dating, there is always a little fear of breaking up or walking out of the relationship, if too honest. This was such a great discovery for us!
Tip: Ask yourself or your partner if they have been filtering answers to avoid conflict or confrontation. This can be fixed with an honest and loving conversation. If you plan to get married or plan to just be together for a long period, it is a necessary question to bring up and work through, sooner rather than later.
- The way we are perceiving our relationship is way more serious now. What I mean by this is, that by being married, making decisions is a bit easier now versus when we were dating. Life decisions, whether they are big or small, are always discussed with my husband first. Even if it's just about dinner or making plans for ourselves, we double-check with our partner to make sure they didn't have any plans or expectations first. It has truly been out of respect to my spouse and best friend. We try our best to never forget that we are a team and make decisions together based on what is best for us. Also, whenever we disagree now, it is a little easier for me to let go of the issue or thing that bothers me because I know we have each other and we are teammates. After all, we did CHOOSE each other. So, no matter what disagreement we may have, we always know now that we "ride or die" together. Small little arguments do not hold much weight anymore because we have made such a huge commitment to one another and that outweighs all obstacles in front of us. It is just helpful knowing we are in this together and not to sweat the small stuff.
Tip: Communicate with your partner about how they perceive your relationship now vs. how they plan or might view it during your marriage. Are respect and communication there or is there something you want to be different or stay the same? What is important to both of you or a must-have for your marriage to stay strong?
My intention with this post is not to scare you out of getting married - I just want to bring about the conversations to have with your partner to somewhat "prepare" you for smooth sailing. Honestly, marriage is hard. I have heard this before and can truly understand it now that I am in one. But, it doesn't HAVE to be! With the right preparation, counseling, communication, and honesty, you can solve any problems and break through the challenges alongside your partner.
Until my next tip,