Daily Archives: January 22, 2012

The Marriage Project, Reflection 34: “There is a difference, though, in that when you’re together and unmarried you both decide every day to be with the other person. Being married removes some of that decision-making story, but the feelings are really the same.”

 

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(Photo at offbeatbride.com)

K is a 27 year old data analyst in Burlington, VT.

Why did you decide to get married?

I think we decided to get married when we both agreed that we didn’t want to be with anyone else, and that we really enjoyed living together.  But then, when we realized we agreed on those two important points, we just went on living together for a few years after that.  We got cats, and bought furniture, and shared bank accounts and tiny apartments.  Then we realized that filing two whole sets of tax forms is a real drag.  Also, my husband started grad school (he’s about halfway through his PhD now), and we made the discovery of the real limits of student health insurance plans.  So we gathered some friends and family in our living room, said some words, signed some papers, and ate a nice big dinner together.  And we’ve been married ever since!

What did you think marriage would be like?

I had a feeling our life as married people would be pretty similar to our life as living-together people, and for the most part that is true.  There is a difference, though, in that when you’re together and unmarried you both decide every day to be with the other person.  Being married removes some of that decision-making story, but the feelings are really the same.

Where do you think you got your ideas/concept/narrative about marriage?

I’m sure I got most of my early concept of marriage from 1980s-era television.  I didn’t have a very large family, so most of my childhood pictures of married couples were from All in the Family, the Simpsons, Family Ties, all those TGIF shows…and those are all your basic traditional views of marriage, family, and gender roles.  Even though second wave feminism was totally underway and women in the ’80s were becoming closer to equals in the workforce, men weren’t becoming equals at home in exchange.  These fictional families I grew up with all expected women to take the roles of housekeeper and caretaker, and then hold down a job if they wanted one, and that was pretty true in reality as well.  Fortunately I’m part of a generation that is realizing the absurdity of this, that we need to not only teach our daughters they can do anything including fix their own car, but we also need to teach our sons they can do anything including fix their own dinner.

What are your feelings on the word “wife”?

Actually, I don’t mind it at all.  I much prefer it over “girlfriend”.

Why did you make the decision you made about your name?

I actually haven’t fully decided on my name yet.  I like his last name better than mine because it’s half as long and doesn’t have as many easily-confused vowels.  When I make restaurant reservations, I always give his name because it’s quicker and easier.  I did that long before we were married, though.  But when I expressed the possibility of legally changing my name to his, some girlfriends of mine reacted really strongly against it, like I was betraying the sisterhood!  Odds are, though, I’m just going to take the lazy way and not change anything, because wow it’s a lot of paperwork.

Do you think your relationship with your partner has changed since you got married?

I think we’ve changed in that we’ve both learned to be more patient, not just with each other but also with the world in general.  We’ve learned to talk about things that are keeping us from having a good day, instead of ignoring them and hoping they’ll just go away or get better magically.  It’s hard, because we’re both slightly shy and awkward when it comes to “let’s talk about our feelings now!” but it’s definitely something that we’ve learned to do together.

What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been married?

I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to be a little selfish.  In fact, it’s pretty necessary.  It’s really easy to give in a relationship, but at some point you have to recognize what you need to keep yourself happy.  You need time apart, you need your own friends, you need to be able to say “I need to do this now please go away” and not have it be a big deal.  I’ve learned a lot more about my own preferences and my own opinions, and that even though we share a lot of the same ideals, I don’t have to shrink away from something if it’s obvious we feel differently about it.  I’ve learned that I like to debate in a way that’s productive and interesting, so we can have real conversations together and learn things from each other.

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