In preparing to meet our new baby I have been reading lots about how children impact relationships, so I thought maybe I would share something that isn't about that. This is just what I have discovered so far into my own marriage, some gripes I have and some good old whinging.
1. Having a boyfriend is not the same as being married (or in a de facto relationship).
I'll say straight up that I'm not convinced in the sacrament of marriage. It certainly isn't everything, and getting married just to get it over and done with is stupid. In most of my circles, being married is a faster process than usual. On the other hand, my friends and family who aren't married but do live with their partners are seen as the package deal, just as us old marrieds are. Legally wed and de facto are one and the same in my book.
I get kind of annoyed when people decide that their boyfriend or girlfriend is as good as their husband or wife, or "we're pretty much married". No you're not.The piece of paper doesn't make you wedded to your dreamboat though, but doing life together does (and doing it separately doesn't). When we got married we went from living over an hour away from each other to suddenly living in the same house, making all of the decisions together, sharing money and having each other's backs (even when one or the other didn't deserve it). I don't think you need to live together before you're married though, but when you don't, you often see most of the good stuff and little of the bad. I don't just mean bad hair days (or fat days as I like to call them), but dealing together with trivial issues, and big stuff sure helps. In the two years we weren't married, Stephen and I had plenty of dates, planned our time together and did the fun stuff because we would only see each other a few days a week. Once we were married, it was really hard for us to take time to just be a couple and not two people living in a house who happened to love each other a lot.
If you had said this to me at the time of our engagement though, I would totally disagree. We did make big life decisions together and plan things, and take holidays, but you do this with friends and family too. There is a huge difference, seriously.
2. Other people's advice is not about you and your partner.
I've said often that before our wedding we received a lot of advice,
most of it was pretty unhelpful or didn't make a lot of sense to who we
are as a couple. Things like never go to bed angry (or do)
was already something we had been doing forever. Date nights seemed
kind of laughable (they're not now), and to be working towards staying
married to not get divorced seemed kind of fruitless.
thing is, two and a bit years in, I haven't forgotten that the advice
we were given hasn't suited who we are, and said volumes about the
people who said it. My standard advice to about to be wed couples is to
be the first one to say sorry, but really, that only applies in our
little world. In some relationships, this isn't a choice, and I guess I need to word it better by saying 'compromise is choosing to surrender, or at least meet a quarter of the way'.
3. Changing people after marriage is stupid. And what's with Stupid Husband Syndrome?
There's one trend I'm noticing - people who are married don't change, but their partners try to make them do so anyway. Essentially who I am now is very much who I was ten years ago, or even as a child. We really don't change personalities and interests, just our nature (good, bad and indifferent) changes. Experience and knowledge changes us too, but not really enough to say 'I am a completely different person'. Has my focus changed? Yes. For me, Guides has been a huge interest in the last few years, but working with young people has not. Have my values changed? Yes, because I have seen more of this world and accept that my own faith journey is vastly different to others. This is stuff that can be influenced though. See the world together, talk about changing values together.
The small things though, like my love of beanies (Stephen calls them tea cozies) and Stephen's insistence of wearing skivvies when he is sick and in bed for the day, don't need changing, even if they are a bit irksome. And how I relate to someone, whether it is making them something they like to eat or indulging them in something like to do, doesn't change just because their significant other is on some weird process of changing them.
I refuse to allow Stupid Husband Syndrome. As far as I am aware, my own husband looked after and cared for himself a long time before I came on the scene. He doesn't know everything, but neither do I, and that's no need to create some great tall tales about how stupid men are. Yes, Mere Male section of Women's Day, you're going into the bin.
4. Just because a couple is married, doesn't mean you'll be friends with them.
This is such a mistake.
As much as married life is very different to the single life and the dating life, the idea that A Married Couple automatically becomes friends with Another Married Couple is crazy. We have friends from all over the place who are at different stages of their lives. And that is totally cool and okay. We don't want to be stuck on The Married Table at a wedding. We want to be with Our Friends or Some People With Similar Interests (PS no, marriage is not an interest) or People We Have Known For A Long Time. Assumptions are silly, the end.
5. Not everyone gets the package deal, and that's okay.
I have a friend who kept verifying that his then girlfriend was invited to things he was invited to. Of course she was, but I didn't have her number and I just kind of thought they were a package deal anyway. I guess he had a point though, not everyone sees it that way. People with partners tend to though with some exceptions, like that guy.
Then again, if you're the only one with a significant other in your group of friends, it can be hard to be upfront, or maybe you feel you don't have to. I remember being highly disappointed when showing up to a Girls Night Out with a friend's super annoying boyfriend tagging along for the short lived evening. It wasn't really anyone's fault, just she didn't say anything beforehand, and they didn't have a problem with it, though we did.
All these things aside, Stephen and I do plenty of social things separately. Footy days are almost always a Lisa free event, dinners out with the girls are always a Stephen free event. He doesn't enjoy girl talk, I don't enjoy making small talk with girls I don't know, easy solution.
The only advice I'll give on this is to ask before you bring someone somewhere they weren't invited too, unless it's kind of obvious (like a barbeque or a house warming or something that 100 people on Facebook have been asked to attend).
I think that's it for me. I'm certainly no all knowing woman in the ways of the married world, but so far this ride has been pretty sweet.