H is a 31 year old social working living the South.
Why did you decide to get married?
A and I decided to get married because we loved each other and we wanted to be together and build our lives together. As A put it to me once “I want to be wherever you are.” Due to our religious beliefs, moving in with each other was not an option. For us, it was important for us for our relationship to align with our spiritual beliefs.
What did you think marriage would be like?
Looking back, I don’t actually think I had any major expectations of what marriage would be like. I guess the greatest expectation I had was that it would be “living with my best friend and being together.” Now, that I think about, it was also always really important that my partner and I be equals. I wanted us to have the together aspect of our relationship, but also our separateness too. And actually, that is what it has been like.
Where do you think you got your ideas/concept/narrative about marriage?
I think I get my ideas/concept/narrative about marriage from everywhere! And I think some of these ideas are healthy, some not so healthy. Definitely, probably the main example I got about marriage was my parents’ own relationship (who have been married my whole life). In addition, I suppose I encounter marriages everywhere- grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends’ parents when I was young. Also, ideas definitely have come
from TV, movies, books, etc. I think some of my more specific ideas about my own marriage came from my dating relationships- I never lived with a previous boyfriend, but I think being in dating relationships helped me figure out what was healthy and unhealthy for me in relationships. And of course, my spiritual beliefs inform my ideas about marriage- that it’s an institution in and of itself, that it involves the union of 2 people- but that it also enables each person to grow as individuals as well.
How do you feel about the word “wife”?
I’ve never thought about the word wife before. I always just thought about it as “female husband” and husband as “female wife.”
Why did you make the decision you made about your name?
I think I made the decision for 2 reasons. One reason is that my husband has hardly any family members with his last name and I have dozens. My husband was actually willing to take my name if I felt strongly about it. But we decided I would take his since he had fewer family members with his name. But, I think the other reason was that, frankly, it was “exciting” to get married. I got married fairly young (age 22, not so young for some people, but very young in my own peer group), and I think there was a bit of excitement about changing my name. Would I change my name now, if I got married now? I’m actually not so sure.
Do you think your relationship with your partner has changed since you got married?
Definitely. We know each other a lot better now, and I think we feel much more secure with one another. We definitely resolve disagreements better than we used to. I think also we share a lot of outlooks on things. I think that’s due to having years and years of late night discussions on life, the universe, and everything.
What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been married?
This one is really hard to answer. So much has happened in my life since I got married- first full-time job out of college, career change, graduate school, 2 interstate moves, other jobs. I know I’ve changed a lot in the last 9 years, but I’m not sure which experiences have contributed to the changes in my life. I think in some ways, starting the career I have now (psychotherapist) has made more profound changes in me than marriage. I think over the last 9 years, I’ve learned to “read” people better, I’m more aware of social injustice, I’m more comfortable speaking out against social injustice, I listen more and talk less, and I think, unfortunately, I also have less patience in some ways.