What happens after you get married? What changes?
Personally, it seemed like the only thing that changed was the need to change my last name. Why is that so hard by the way? I’m currently still floating in this limbo of being Jones on some things and Zimmerman on others (and I’ve been married for almost a year).
I get asked “how’s married life” all. the. time. And my honest answer is “not a whole lot has changed”. These is this certain degree of comfort and ease that comes with being married.
I know some people move into a house, or have some other big life change when they tie the knot, but Michael and I just carried on living in our apartment that we’d already been sharing for the past three years.
But at the same time, the more I thought about it, the more I was happy there weren’t any “big” changes. You hear all the time about people getting married and then discovering these pet peeves about their spouse, big rifts that ultimately end the relationship.
My biggest pet peeves about Michael is that he leaves food particles in the dish brush, and doesn’t always get tissues into the bathroom garbage bins. Hardly marriage ending things.
But what are you supposed to do when you go from “dating” someone to spending a lot of time with them?
How can you still date your husband? (And I’m not saying this in some silly magazine headline type of way).
Well, here are some things that Michael and I have put an emphasis on:
Keep the conversation alive.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the habit of surface level conversations (I’m guilty of it too!). “How was work today?” “What do you want to do for dinner?” “What should we do this weekend?”
And while this is true for all relationships (friends, family and work colleges) it’s especially important for healthy romantic relationships.
Intellectual conversation is worth it’s weight in gold.
For some it might come naturally to dig deep into conversations. For the rest of us it takes effort.
Set aside time to keep up with current events (there’s a healthy balance to find between being ignorant with what’s going on the world and feeling like the world is hopeless and going to end any day now.)
Read books, challenge yourself to learn something new every now and then. Because sharing funny cat videos are only going to work for so long.
And don’t be afraid of having challenging conversations where maybe you don’t agree. Don’t get frustrated, neither of you are out to get the other. Keep an open mind, but stand up for what you believe in.
Keep going on “dates”.
While there’s a difference in dating at the start of a relationship and when you’re years into it, that doesn’t mean you should stop having date nights.
Michael and I are nerds who at every opportunity will shout “date night!” when we’re doing anything “date” related.
Making dinner and eating together at home?
Going to cheap movie night?
Curling up in bed and watching Netflix?
As you can see it’s easy to turn almost every situation into a fun “date”. It’s also fun to plan more traditional dates as well.
It helps some to choose a night of the week. Tuesdays seemed to be the most consistent date night for awhile, but that doesn’t stop us from having some Sunday afternoon fun either.
Make time for activities besides Netflix.
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Netflix. I’m an avid fan (hence the mention in the section above), but for everyone out there that’s ever been in a relationship you know that couples get into “routines”. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (this girl loves structure and routine) you’ve got to spice it up every now and then.
A great place to head is an event calendar. Find a show or an event that’s going on in your town. Better yet is there a lecture at a local college you can go to together and then have a discussion about your thoughts afterwords? (See how I’m killing two birds with one stone?)
Getting outside is important for all aspects of life, and something that is key for both of us. Making time for outdoor physical activities is a great way to spend time together while being “healthy”. Or relax at a park with a picnic or a hammock and a good book. Sometimes it’s nice to just spend time together while doing your own things.
Don’t forget to give each other space.
Normally, when you first start seeing someone you’ll meet up for a date, spend some time together and then go your separate ways for a few days. But when you move in with someone, or marry someone, that time together can get “overwhelming” if you don't make time for yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting alone time. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
Because Michael and I both work for ourselves we could literally spend almost every waking (and sleeping) minute together. And I’m sure we spend more time together than the average couple. But we have found a healthy way to separate ourselves.
During the “work” day he goes to his office and I work from my home office. There have been plenty of times where we’ll both work from home or I’ll go work from his office, and I find that I’m less productive when he’s there (and anyone else for that matter).
And going along with this, spend time with friends, family and other people who aren’t your partner. Having relationships outside your “relationship” are oh so important. We’ve all had that friend (or been that friend) who only spends time with their partner, or is never without them. But you have to continue to develop yourself as a person outside of that relationship.
I suppose this advice goes for anyone in a relationship. You definitely don’t have to be married to use any of it. So regardless of whether you’ve been together for two months, two years or two decades, don’t forget to keep things alive.