If you missed my weekly column this summer all about getting engaged and planning a wedding, here’s the highlight reel: after doing loads of work, I found "the one." He popped the question; I said yes. We decided the big details. I found the dress. We invited all the most important people in our lives (minus their screaming kids). Finally, after spending a considerable amount of time and more than a reasonable amount of money, we had a really, really fabulous wedding.
For the next four years, Arran and I are newlyweds. It’s a magical time when a couple is tasked with building the foundation of their marriage while adjusting to married life.
But seriously, I’m not sure what I expected, but since Arran and I tied the knot, some things have definitely felt different. And, in some ways, some things haven’t changed.
So far, from my experience, here are 6 ways you know you’re a newlywed.
1. You’ve still got a wedding-related "to do" list.
If you think that the big day being over means you’ll be getting your weekends back, think again. From the never-ending thank you notes to gift certificates you got as wedding presents begging to be spent — not to mention all the wedding stuff we bought that now needs to be returned or resold — every free minute of every weekend since we got hitched has gone to another wedding-related chore.
Don’t get me wrong: Arran and I came home from our honeymoon completely care-free, stupidly happy, and madly in love. We spent at least two weeks reliving with each other and anyone else who would listen every minute detail of our wonderful wedding.
Then, we got to work.
Eight weeks later, we have yet to post our wedding pictures on Facebook or get our deposit back from one venue that canceled on us literally the day before. And I am pretty sure we will be writing thank you notes until the end of time.
2. No one knows what to call anyone.
For many, I imagine the most remarkable difference after getting married is the fact that they literally become a different person — as in, many brides opt to change their name.
I didn’t. Like roughly 20 percent of women married in recent years, I kept my last name (in my case, for professional reasons). Even so, that doesn’t stop the veterinarian from referring to me as “Mrs. Skinner.” When it happens, I laugh quietly to myself and think of Arran’s mother.
Truth be told, there’s confusion whether a bride changes her name or not. Take the fact that I am still constantly referring to Arran as my boyfriend instead of my husband. Our engagement was so quick we had barely gotten used to “fiancé!" And everyone is constantly correcting us, and thinking it’s adorable when actually it’s annoying to be corrected. Let us call each other what we want.
3. You’ve got sex on the brain.
So a strange thing happened on my wedding night: I was suddenly hot again for the guy I’d been sleeping with for the past two years! I mean steamy-steamy-vroom-vroom-I-love-your-fucking-face-and-let’s-do-anything— and I mean ANYTHING — to- make-each-other-happy kind of love making. That night and for weeks after, sex was more spontaneous, satisfying and fun than it had been in years.
Then, the weather got cold. And I hate the cold. When it’s cold, I want to wrap myself in a blanket and stay there. Until May. Under layers of layers you will find my pasty, hairy, musty body. The last thing I want is for it to be touched.
Intimacy has always been difficult for me, and so sometimes I worry. I want a healthy sex life with my husband. But some nights, I’d rather watch reruns of Westworld, cuddle my dogs, and eat ice cream. I’ve read that sex in a monogamous relationship shifts over time and that the happiest relationships shift with it. In other words, fluctuations are normal. Still, I think about it. A lot.
4. You're in no hurry to have kids.
Arran and I were very eager to get married so that we could get started on a family (I even wrote about it here). But the second it was official, it’s like my baby fever broke. The first month and a half, neither of us brought it up. Maybe we were waiting until we’d made a dent in that wedding-related to-do list. Or maybe we both intuitively wanted to enjoy being newlyweds sans kids and without the pressure of what’s next.
According to experts, the biggest question newlyweds are confronted with is whether or not to have kids, and when.
For now, Arran and I are enjoying the “dual income, no kids” lifestyle. Earlier this month, we went to the Caribbean to celebrate his birthday. In a couple weeks, I’m traveling alone to Sri Lanka for work. I’d like to believe that our lifestyle — particularly when it comes to my professional ambitions— won’t change once our family starts growing, but realistically, I don’t know how possible these plans would be if I were pregnant or if we had kids. When I casually mention my husband’s and my latest “date night” or talk about the time I spend at the gym, my friends with children look at me wistfully and say, “Do it while you can.”
But maybe someday...
5. All those gauzy plans you had prior to getting married — such as starting a family and buying a home — are suddenly becoming real.
In my experience, this has been an awesome, albeit frightening experience. Am I really ready to say goodbye to the city and start searching for a “forever home” in the suburbs? Realistically speaking, how will my work be impacted by becoming a mother? Then there’s all the things you don’t want to happen: What if he or I lose my job? What if one of us gets sick? When I got married, “When I grow up” was suddenly now.
6. You're still figuring it out.
According to at least one survey, the first year of marriage may be the hardest.
From post-wedding day blues and dealing with in-laws, to making major decisions as a unit where the used to be just one, there’s a whole host of new challenges starting the day after you say “I do.” All this can lead to disagreement.
And yet, truth be told, Arran and I haven’t fought these past couple months nearly as much as we did while we were planning our wedding. When we do disagree, we’ve learned to communicate effectively. For the most part, we fight fairly and from a place of love. I guess this is what experts mean when they talk about foundation.