How Being Married Changes Your Relationship
Saying "I do" comes with the good — and the bad.
It’s just a matter of seconds after you become engaged that you begin to hear the rumble from friends and family about how marriage changes a relationship. They probably won’t be able to tell you how, at least not down to the psychological specifics, but they will know, from their own experience, that it’s true.
At the time you're told all of this — while you're still newly high on life and love from the big proposal — it is very likely that you will shrug at this suggestion and not take it seriously. No one who gets engaged believes, even for a second, that marriage will change their relationship. Why let your brain go there?
So does marriage really change your relationship? The answer is yes.
It doesn’t change your feelings for your partner, their feelings for you, nor does it make your happier or sadder about your relationship — it just makes it a little different. With the magical words, “I do,” you’re locked in for the long haul and studies have confirmed that something about that makes for a shift in our expectations of ourselves and the expectations we have for our partners.
But why is there a change?
Well, marriage is hard. According to Benjamin Karney, an associate professor of social psychology at UCLA, satisfaction in a relationship begins to decline not long after a couple gets married because spouses don’t have much interest in making allowances for their partner's flaws or weaknesses. Reality kicks in, even if a couple has been living together for years prior to the marriage, and things become more stressful. Talking about the future is no longer a hypothetical, but a fact. Being able to take off or runaway from complications is no longer an option. You have signed up for “until death do us part,” and that’s what people expect of you.
You’re also forced to be an adult. Along with kissing goodbye hypotheticals about the future, you’re wrangled into obligations and responsibilities that may not have existed before. You can no longer wiggle your way out of seeing your partner’s family the way you could when you were dating and when you fight. Instead, you’re forced to be mature about it, all for the sake of the marriage. Your marriage becomes your baby, because you stood up in front of your family and friends and declared it so.
However, not all changes are for the worst.
Marriage instills in you the understanding that commitment is real; you can’t just bail. It changes how you view the whole institution and your relationship with your partner in that institution. It makes you appreciate the fact that so many others have gotten married and were able to stick it out, especially if your parents are still together. It makes you respect your partner and that fact that they signed up for this with you, that they wanted to commit to something that, for many, is a dying tradition.
Yes, amidst all the tangible difficulties of marriage, the bond for your partner gets stronger, despite the fact that they probably, very likely, driving you batsh*t crazy.
So what does all of this mean? Is marriage worth it?
Marriage will change your relationship. It may make it more difficult, and may even make you second-guess it all, but it’s a change that’s worth it. You see you and your partner as a team, and an unbreakable one at that. And that's the whole reason we say "I do" in the first place.