Let me guess. You and your (potential) fiancée live in separate houses. She still lives with her parents, learning how to be a housewife, and you’re both waiting for you wedding night to have sex, right?
If that’s you, move on. The vast majority of this site will offend you deeply.
If you’re like 68% of couples today, then you’ve already shacked up and are living in sin. So what, if anything, actually changes when you get married?
Gaze into The Plunge’s crystal ball:
Different: Less socializing. The number of restaurants, bars, and lounges you go to will plummet by 20-60%. And when you do (grudgingly) leave the house to meet friends, you’ll go home 90 minutes earlier than before.
Same (or better): The sex. You can relax about this one. The myth that sex stops as soon as you get married is bullshit. In fact, your sex life may pick up, now that you’re securely hitched. So much so you might end up having kids. At which point your sex life will stop.
Different: More nesting. That gift registry serves a purpose–now that the two of you are legally a family, even if you’ve already lived together, you’ll still find yourselves doing more cooking, watching more Netflix, and spending more time “playing house.” This isn’t a conscious decision, but something that you’ll slip into, gradually. Soon you won’t remember a life without this domestic routine.
Same: Her. She may be more relaxed and happy, now that the wedding is out of the way—and presumably she’ll be blissed out for a while, having bagged a prize catch like you. But she’s still the same woman you’ve always known. She’ll do the same things you love, have the same habits that annoy you, tolerate the same nonsense that you throw her way. Aren’t those things the reason you married her in the first place? (For more on seeing if she’s The One, click here.)
Different: The way you buy goodies. Let’s say it’s back in the good old days, and you’re in Best Buy and you have an epiphany: you realize that your 5 megapixel camera is suddenly completely inadequate. You need 8 megapixels, or 10 if possible. You must have it, in fact it’s a miracle that you gotten this far in life without it. So you pull the trigger…
Once you’re married? Every purchase over X dollars (where X is between 20 and 200, depending on your income) needs approval from both chambers of Congress. This is the biggie. Money may suddenly become a cause for tension and bickering. It’s the one thing that living together can’t prepare you for. Where to invest? Do we splurge for the convertible? Can I buy the new iPhone? These are no longer just your decisions. If you’ve lived together, you’ve probably discussed money, but marriage is a different ballgame. It’s not (necessarily) miserable. But it’s different.
Same: She’s still not going to understand why the NFL Draft is must-see TV, why a playoff game from 2006 is still flagged on your DVR as “never erase,” or why you root for the Dolphins’ kicker in a 30-point blowout. Marriage brings you closer…but it’s not a mind-meld.
Different: The home décor. For her, marriage is the difference between a house and a home. As a live-in girlfriend, she was cool with the Yao Ming lamp in the bedroom. As a wife, she’ll have less tolerance for a décor that’s inspired by 7’6″ Chinese centers.
Same: Your global routine. While you stay in more and bar-hop less, it’s true that the overall arc of your habits will remain the same. Your jobs are the same. Your TV watching is the same. So for a good chunk of your everyday experience, living together is a fair approximation of what the future will hold.
Different: The chores. It’s a subtle shift, but now that the courtship is officially over, no one needs to impress the other, so she’s less prone to doing the “guy chores” like yard work and trash. (And vice versa.) Even the most progressive, post-sexist couples may mind themselves slowly sliding into gender stereotypes.
Same: Your chemistry. Either you have it or you don’t. Marriage isn’t a panacea. You won’t suddenly achieve Barack and Michelle Obama-level simpatico as soon as you take your vows. But hopefully you’re already on the way there. If not, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten married to begin with.
Different: The in-laws. Today they keep their distance. But the moment that you become family they could “pop in” whenever they please, expect more invitations, hound you about the holidays, and potentially visit for weeks at a time. The secret is to create boundaries, and that starts right now, today, before you get married. Click here to find out how.
If and when you’re ready to pop the question, don’t skip our 10 Commandments.