Back in the day, getting married meant that once some mules, hay and gold changed hands, you left your family for the first time and were off to start a whole new life. Today, most modern American couples live in sin long before they make it official. This left us wondering: How much does getting married these days really change a relationship? Here, seven legally wed folks — from two months in to six years deep — share their experiences.
“For us, we’re way more content with just hanging out together doing nothing than we were pre-marriage. Less FOMO, you could say. (Otherwise everything is pretty much the same.)” - Katherine, married two months
“At first things didn’t feel any different, as we had already lived together and had been dating for nine years before we got married. But a few months in is when I noticed a bit of a change. It seems obvious, but we simply hold more responsibility toward one another now. We’re both fairly independent people, so making all these major decisions together, like merging bank accounts and logistically talking about where we want to live in the next three to five years, has opened the doors to what true communication and compromise means (not like the old days of talking in hypotheticals or deciding what Ben & Jerry’s flavor to eat that night). Compromise has been the biggest, hardest and most rewarding difference.” - Angela, married six months
“A lot of my girlfriends asked me how things had changed after getting married, but TBH I felt like the only thing that really changed was that all the time we used to spend talking about wedding planning we now spend talking about other relationship milestones like moving, buying a place, etc. Otherwise it’s the exact same (except with way nicer kitchenware).” - Alexia, married one and a half years
“For me, getting married really didn’t change our relationship—we were already living together, and I think moving in was the bigger OMG moment in our lives. Still, I do feel like we operate as more of a team since getting married. No more empty threats while fighting, for example.” - Rachel, married two years
“I didn’t feel any different as a woman who was dating to becoming a woman who was engaged and then to a woman who is now married. My husband feels the same way. But, we did feel a much broader effect on our relationship. There’s an awareness that, moving forward as we go through life, we’re in this together as a team, no matter the circumstance. It’s not a change we felt overnight or in our daily interactions, but an overall feeling.” - Rachel (a different one), married two and a half years
“I’m currently married, and I was married once before this. When I married my first wife, it completely changed the dynamic of our relationship, to the point where the act of getting married seemed to make it clear we weren’t right for each other. When I got married for the second time, it definitely felt more like the ideal progression of our relationship. We became stronger as a couple as a result.” - Chris, married five years
“The biggest change for us was that, for better or worse, once we got married we decided to divide and conquer and make sure each family task was handled by the more adept person. Like, I’m really good with bills and budgeting and he’s not, so that’s my domain, and he doesn’t have to worry about it. And he’s a terrific cook... meaning I haven’t really looked at an oven in five years. I handle our social calendar. He handles anything to do with the car. The plus side is that most things get done quickly and efficiently, with minimal fighting. The down side is that I have no idea how to pump gas anymore.” - Jillian, married 5 years