Two years ago I married the guy I'd been dating for seven years prior. We're still married! He's pretty great. (So am I.) I had dinner tonight with a friend who's getting married soon, and she said that I should tell more people some of the things I told her about what it was really like to go from not being married to being married. So, okay.
  1. Being married is different than not being married.
    It really is. We were skeptical of marriage, since we already lived together and shared finances and were talking about kids and everything. But something DOES change. Marriage is the last relationship milestone that's specifically about your *relationship.* Once you're married, there are no more steps. You've passed the last signpost and you're in the unexplored frontier. It's not better, it's not worse, it's just DIFFERENT.
  2. You don't feel "married" right away.
    It's not like you say those words and then suddenly everything changes. You grow into marriage the same way you grow into adulthood, or into mindfulness, or into self-confidence. It's a process. It takes work. Eventually you'll realize you relate to each other in a new, more ~married~ way. It takes at least a year. This is because...
  3. The first year of marriage is a nightmare.
    Jim and I had a pretty amazing relationship before we got married. We fought and we bickered but also we loved each other deeply and we put a lot of work into it. We went to our own individual therapists and we went to a couple's therapist just for fun. IT DIDN'T MATTER. Year one we fought more often, more brutally, than ever before. Turns out, even with all that therapy and communication, we each had wildly different assumptions about what it meant to be married. Reconciling them wasn't fun.
  4. Your wedding doesn't matter. Even if it matters to you, it doesn't matter.
    I did this exercise while planning our wedding: Every time I started getting upset or stressed about something, I'd set the timer on my phone for 5 hours. When the alarm went off, it flashed this message: YOUR WEDDING JUST ENDED. Most weddings are five hours long. Five hours is NOTHING. It's over in one second. It doesn't matter how much thought and obsession you put into your wedding, it will end before you realize it.
  5. You and your spouse are the least important people at your wedding.
    Your guests will have the same relationship to you that a donor has to Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser. They'll see you from a distance, say a personal hello for a second, listen to you give a speech. You're the *reason* they're there, but they aren't going to be spending most of their time with you. Make sure you give thought to keeping your guests happy and having fun even outside of the photo-op moments.
  6. You will have a giant fight on your honeymoon.
    Every couple I know has had one. If you delay your honeymoon until a few months post-wedding, you'll still have a giant fight on your honeymoon.
  7. It's okay not to have sex on your wedding night.
    Seriously. Better to have a good round when you're really feeling up for it than to kick off your marriage with some exhausted, obligation-driven cranking. You've got the rest of your life for that kind. Ba-dum-chh.
  8. You can hire someone on TaskRabbit to write your thank-you notes for a dollar each.
    This is the best advice you will ever receive in your entire life. No one knows what anyone's handwriting looks like anymore. Please don't tell anyone I know that I did this.