Think you know everything about being married? You don't — yet. But lucky for you, these five wives are here to tell you what took them by surprise so that you'll enter into this sacred union with your eyes wide open.
1. Marriage actually does feel different.
When you've been together for years before you tie the knot, you might wonder if anything really changes. It does, says Nicole. "I didn't think a new level of intimacy could exist," she says, "but it did. The weight of the ring on my finger, the revered way we would call ourselves by our new nicknames — husband and wife — and the look in my husband's eyes that said, 'this is forever and I am excited to be on the journey with you,' opened my heart and increased my love for this human in a way I didn't think was possible," she explains.
2. Your first newlywed fight might just be about name change.
Don't assume you're on the same page when it comes to whether you'll change your name, warns Danielle. "There are unspoken expectations and high emotions around identity and changing one's name after marriage," she says. "I tell every engaged friend I have to discuss name change before the wedding so it doesn't blow up as you sign your marriage license or return from your honeymoon."
3. It takes work going from a single to married person's mindset.
As a single gal, when you want to go buy a new TV, you simply head to the store. But as Elizabeth reminds us, once you tie the knot, you have to think of how that TV — and its ticket price — will affect more than just you. "Somehow I just assumed we would fall into thinking as a couple naturally, but in our case, we really had to focus on setting time aside to discuss decisions together," she says. "And we've become stronger as a couple as a result of this extra effort."
4. You do really marry the whole family.
No, it won't be an Adams Family arrangement. But when you marry a person, you marry his or her whole extended family, says Ruth. "Although we fall in love with the person, that person is embedded in a social network that has expectations of us that may be different than our own expectations," she says. "And as life unfolds, a great deal of time in marriage is devoted to negotiating how to meet these obligations in a way that is satisfying to both spouses and the family."
5. Marriage is a work in progress.
Your wedding day was work to plan, but it might be nothing compared to the work you put into your actual marriage over your lifetime. "Marriage is a constant work in progress and if you're not mindful of this, you'll end up taking the marriage for granted," warns Malini. "Even after decades of being together, you'll learn things about your spouse that may surprise you. It's important to constantly find ways to re-connect with your spouse and strengthen your understanding of each other."