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Megan Isennock Headshot

What's So Different About Marriage?

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Alamy
Alamy

Almost every married person I spoke with before our wedding told me the same thing. "You guys have been together a while, but it will feel SO DIFFERENT once you're married."

But so far being married feels almost exactly the same as dating. I've been trying to figure out if this is unique to me, and I'm increasingly finding that among people my age, it's not. I can only assume it's because now it is far more common for couples to live together before their engagement.

My husband and I met as roommates. We both transferred into College Park and ended up in the same house with a bunch of other idiots and about a year later we started dating and about six years later we got married. Meaning that, save for our, ahem -- "gap year" -- we've lived together since before we started dating. We've done the "just got out of school let's work a bunch of weird jobs and live Downtown," bit; we mastered the "okay being broke sucks let's replace week-night binge-drinking with an adopted cat and some taxable income," and we are now in the "late twenties, pretty stable, pre-kids, own a house with more cats than Grey Gardens" phase. Point being, we've grown up through our twenties together, which isn't the easiest time to share bills and chores and a bed and everything with someone.

We are a whole month and a half into our marriage, so this post could serve little more than to expose my inexperience as a wife. At the moment, it feels like we decided to throw a party last month and promised to keep loving each other, and then got right back to our lives. I'll admit that the nomenclature is throwing me off a bit. I definitely get the excited giggles when I say "husband" or hear Rob say "wife," but other than that everything is... the same.

And I'm grateful for the sameness. Change can be fun, but I really liked our relationship and feared that too much change would knock us off-kilter. I feared that taking the wedding planning too seriously would unearth some weird, temporary behavior in us, and though we absolutely had screaming matches during the planning, after the dust settled it was like, who the hell was that guy yelling about the color of his bow tie? And since when do I give a shit about boutonnieres? We worked to keep our relationship steady in the midst of our hectic summer, and I think our work paid off. Our return from Bride and Groom to Megan and Rob was a welcome one.

Though we may be missing out on the massive "different" feeling, I think my generation is lucky. Because it's no longer a mortal sin to cohabitate before marriage, the person you marry is already familiar. You already know each other's weird habits and your shared lives already have their own shared rhythms. Very few brides these days are lying awake on the eve of their wedding wondering which side of the bed their husband sleeps on, or if he's a morning person. A 21st century wedding isn't a Hail Mary pass to a life with someone you hope you can live happily with; it's a conscious decision to make a deeper commitment to a life you already know you love.