For as long as I can remember, I wanted to get married.
I don’t just mean dreaming of my wedding and playing pretend with a pillowcase for a veil and a bedsheet for a wedding dress train. I wanted all the domestic bliss that came after the big day, too.
I was eager to make those dreams come true, so almost as soon as I got involved with a guy who was real marriage material, we started acting like husband and wife.
Within a few years, we were completely intertwined.
We lived together practically from day one.
We shared our finances soon after.
We had three cats and had managed to kill multiple basil plants together.
And of course, I had a man who was completely devoted to me, and I kept myself happily stuck to him.
I couldn’t see how we could get any more committed to each other, but I still wanted to marry him. It just felt like the natural next step.
So, we took it. We were still undergraduate students and we had initially planned to wait until we graduated. But that started to seem arbitrary and silly. So, we got engaged
After being with Mr. Austin for five years, I was excited to finally become Mrs. Austin.
Ignoring the Ominous Warnings
I was excited about my upcoming wedding even though I couldn’t see anything changing in our relationship.
I thought relaxing on our honeymoon might do us some good, but otherwise, we’d slip right back into our comfortable little life.
Every married person I spoke to, though, either told me I was naive or implied that I was.
They all asked me if I was nervous about getting married. I told them all I wasn’t because I didn’t really think it would change much. And they all replied with the same refrain.
“Oh, you’ll see.”
No one elaborated on exactly what I would see, just that something would change.
My mother issued the most ominous warning.
With a grave look in her eyes, she intoned: “It changes everything.”
I asked what would change, but she just repeated her original statement.
What was this secret transformation everyone was keeping from me?
Was my dear Mr. Austin going to become a Doofy Husband as soon as he had a wedding band on his finger?
Was he going to turn into a pumpkin?
Was I going to be invited to a secret sewing club in which all the secrets of womanhood would be imparted to me?
Without any details, the warnings all seemed silly to me. So, I ignored them and got married, confident that the only thing that would change is my last name.
The One Thing That Changed
Once we got married, something did change.
First, we could call each other husband and wife, which felt like a better fit for us. After living the way we did for a few years, boyfriend and girlfriend didn’t feel quite right anymore.
But the big change was the way other people treated us.
We look young for a pair of lovebirds in our thirties. But ten years ago, we were routinely mistaken for teenagers.
When Mr. Austin was buying notebooks before entering his second year of a PhD program, the cashier asked him what high school he was attending.
When we were flying home one year, the flight attendant offered coffee to every passenger but skipped over me. When she walked by again and I asked for a cup, she looked surprised and said “Are you sure? It’s coffee.”
I was 26.
Our honeymoon was the first time I discovered that being married could instantly age us in the eyes of others.
We were walking through an art gallery that sold handcrafted jewelry. The saleswoman gave us a condescending look, clasped her hands together, and said “Oh, now where’s your mommy and daddy? You shouldn’t be in here without them.”
Her attitude changed the moment she noticed the glint from my wedding ring. She exclaimed in surprise “Oh, you’re married!? So young to be married!” and then tried to sell us stuff, though I was in absolutely no mood to buy after that.
Everywhere, the same thing repeated itself. Finding out that we’re Mr. and Mrs. instead of just high school kids in love made people take us seriously and treat us like equals. Even though we’d been adults for years, it was the first time most people treated us that way.
Our family members all knew our ages, of course, but getting married made them take us more seriously, too.
Everything became joint all of a sudden.
We had been seriously committed to each other for a while, shared an apartment, and never went anywhere without each other. But we were still always treated like each other’s “plus one.”
Now that we were married, though, we got joint invitations to family events and joint holiday gifts from relatives.
No one felt the need to add “Oh, and you can bring Mr. Austin if you want” when they invited me to some party or celebration. Now that we were officially united, he was just a given.
In the end, I guess everyone was right. Being married did change things. The only thing it didn’t change was us.
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