Marriage is complicated. That’s a given.
When I was getting married I was so stressed about balancing my new family, new responsibilities and new life, I was one seating chart switch away from eloping.
But somewhere between tears, nerves and mini meltdowns, I found beauty in my relationship that couldn’t be replaced with any other kind of bond — although there are a few things I wish someone had filled me in on before my big day.
Here are a few pointers from someone who’s been there and done that:
You’re not just marrying him, you’re marrying a family
I was absolutely heartbroken leaving my family behind for our second Christmas as a married couple (I won going to my parents our first year!). I had never, in my entire life, spent a Christmas without my family. In reality, I wasn’t spending it without family — I was spending it with my new extended family, but that didn’t make me feel any less home sick.
Balancing families can be one of the hardest transitions to deal with in marriage and frequently it puts a wedge between partners — leading to defensiveness and disagreements. I always try to remember two things: first, always be fair — if you spend Thanksgiving with your parents this year, spend Thanksgiving with his next year. And second, never let family disagreements affect your relationship — you can’t control how family members will react to you or your spouse, but you can control how you and your spouse handle these arguments.
Changing your last name is a big deal
Gone are the days of women changing their last name without a second thought. I didn’t change my name for a number of reasons. For one, I feel a deep connection with my name. Secondly, as a professional writer, I’ve written under my maiden name for years. My contacts know me by this name. I wanted to avoid confusion and keep it.
My husband was okay with my choice, we discussed it at length and he understood. However, the general public doesn’t seem to share that sentiment. I get a ton of shade from complete strangers – insurance agents, accountants, doctors, TSA agents – you’d be shocked. Don’t let it get to you though – your name is well… yours, and you have every right be called what you feel comfortable with.
Don’t take advice from other couples
No two couples are alike and therefore the same set of rules and advice do not apply. Sure, you can look to your parents or a couple you admire for the occasional ancedote, but doing the exact same thing as another couple will never work out. So many of my family and friends told me I was too young to get married, simply because they were older when they did.
I knew I was ready to get married and felt truly mature enough to handle it. I trusted my gut and it paid off. Just because something works for your sister and her husband, doesn’t mean that’s healthy for you and your spouse. Deep down I knew what was best for me and my marriage.