“So, does it feel different now that you’re married?”
We were asked this question pretty often right after the wedding, and I always chalked it up to small talk, never giving much thought to my reply.
“Ah, you know…we’ve lived together for years already. Getting married was just a party/a formality/a piece of paper/something we did for our parents.”
And in some ways, this answer was true. At its core, our relationship has remained basically the same as we progressed from dating to engaged to married over the past 10 years. In fact, this was a topic that a group of friends began discussing this past weekend over a backyard bonfire, with the consensus agreeing that the real change occurred not when we answered, “I will” at engagement, or “I do” at the wedding, but way before, when the initial seed of “I want to spend my life with this person” first entered our thoughts.
Vin and I dated almost nine years before getting engaged. We dated long-distance. We dated short-distance. We lived in different boroughs. We lived in the same borough. We moved in together. We filed for a domestic partnership. We were accepted as members of the others’ family. We saw each other through tough times like unemployment, accidents, surgeries, bad haircuts. We knew we were in it for the long haul a long time ago.
Given all that, it makes sense that people would ask us, “So, is it any different now than you’re married?”
And the real answer for me, when we go beyond the small talk bullshit, is yes. Oh yes. And that’s because one very big thing has changed since we got married, almost exactly one year ago.
I’ve changed a lot in this past year. I am less anxious and more at ease. I’m so much happier. I’m the most relaxed I’ve been, probably ever. And yes, it is in large part because we finally got married. I kind of hate how unprogressive that sounds, but it’s the truth.
Bear with me here, because this is something that’s still difficult for me to talk about. It still feels very private to me, but it’s also a part of our story. Like many women and some men before me, I was ready to get married a long time before my partner was. It was frustrating, and nerve-fraying, and at times, completely heart-wrenching. It was difficult to navigate my late 20s and early 30s with a very clear idea of the changes I wanted to make in my life, but being unable to put them into action until someone else was ready to make them too.
There were times I felt completely powerless about the direction of my own future, and that was really hard for me. It was hard for him too. I worried a lot, and I wondered a lot. I am by nature very much a planner, and it was extraordinarily difficult for me to remain patient enough to accept that my partner had the same end goal in sight for our future, but was keeping a much different pace. I also really hated talking about the issue with other people.
There are a lot of reinforced ideas that swirl around in our culture regarding love and commitment. Dating for a very long period before marriage is definitely not romanticized or applauded. Prince William dragged his heels to get married because he knew doing so would alter his life in every conceivable way–he’d have to endure a media circus wedding and feel immediate pressure to sire his nation’s future ruler. So the beautiful and smart woman he dated since college got slapped with the stupid and insulting nickname “Waity Katie”. To me, they seemed rational and level-headed, which seems like a pretty good basis for a marriage. But no one ever described them that way before their royal engagement. I bet even Prince William was told to “piss or get off the throne” a few times.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is this. Some people date for a long time before getting married. Some people date for a short time. Some people have kids before they get married. Some people get married and never have kids. Some people choose to never get married at all. Many others are unfortunately not even given the choice. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it, as long as both partners are spending an equal amount of time gazing in at each other while also looking out in the same general direction.
Clearly, Vin and I fell into the “slow and steady wins the race” camp. It wasn’t always easy, but it was certainly worth the wait. And at the end of the day, I’m just glad to be sitting here writing a post about my lovely husband and not the one who got away.
Our first anniversary is this Sunday, and when I reflect on our inaugural year of marriage I am filled with a quiet, irrepressible joy. Like I mentioned before, I’m more relaxed. I’m more at ease. And I’m very, very happy. I love being married. I’m happy to report that from what I can tell, so does he.
That’s not to say that we’ve got it all figured out. We have no idea what’s coming next. We’re not exactly sure where to go from here. Sometimes Vin and I still feel like two confused kids thinking about what they want their lives to look like when they’re all grown up.
There’s still so much for us to figure out in this relationship, in this home, in this marriage, in this life. Hell, we still don’t even know what we’re doing this weekend to celebrate.
But one thing is for absolute certain.
By god, there will be donuts.
All photos by Jason + Anna Photography