If you get married and nothing changes, are you really married?

This was an oft-repeated question in my home in the days and weeks following my beautiful, riverside nuptials. I would tell anyone who could even pretend to care this new philosophy on marriage. And let it serve as a warning. Marriage, as an event, is pretty anti-climactic.

I don’t mean it doesn’t matter or it isn’t moving and beautiful. Damn, I have the pictures to show you how beautiful it was. No really, look at my pictures, I carry them everywhere. Isn’t this one of us with our parents adorable? But I digress. My wedding was beautiful and perfect and my husband is amazing and kind. But my marriage? What marriage? Seriously, am I really married? Because nothing changed. At all.

My husband and I lived together before our wedding. We lived together before we were even engaged. We co-signed our lease. We became joint cat parents before we tied the knot. We bought a car together. We have joint savings. Many frontiers have been traversed. There’s almost nothing left, apart from changing my name (which I’m not) or buying a house (HAHAHA, maybe in a million years). After 2 ½ years of dating, 1 year of sharing an address and 10 months of diamond-ring encrusted finger, we were finally married. I thought it would never get here and it did!

But then we went home after the wedding (to our own bed, thank you very much), woke up the next day and continued to live our life. We watched football on Sunday, I went to work the following Monday, and he went back Wednesday. Life went on and the only thing that changed was the amount of metal adorning my hand. One big party didn’t prove our commitment to each other even though it was an awesome party. But it still didn’t change the way we live our lives, day in and day out. We struggle. We fight. We laugh and we go on date nights and we have plenty of (not-so) boring married sex.

Unfortunately, a lot of views on marriage aren’t realistic. If you get your ideas from movies or TV, romance novels (and don’t get me started on the inaccuracies in books) or studies posted online, you’ll be disappointed. We live in a world where most couples live together before marriage. And if they don’t, they spend the night at each other’s places enough to know what living together would be like. So the traditionally biggest changes with marriage (name change, moving in together, getting a pet) don’t hold as much weight as they once did.

The fact is, marriage is about two people joining their lives together. This is the person you’re choosing to build your home with; to have children with and to get really old and wrinkly with. I married my husband because I love him and I can’t imagine not having him in my life. He married me because I’m great in bed, obviously.

Our commitment was made long before we signed our marriage license (which in Virginia, we actually don’t do, so this is all for the reader’s imagination). We made a commitment to each other with each new step our relationship took. And that’s why we’re unshakable. I can be a real bitch and he never does anything unless I ask him at least 30 times. But we are a family. And that’s stronger than any governmental paperwork.

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