Does Marriage Really Change Your Relationship?

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My husband, Adam, and I have been married for two years now. It's certainly not a long time, by any stretch, but it's enough time to have settled in to life as a married couple. It's given me time to reflect on our marriage and what it means to me.

During our engagement, I didn't think that being married would change our relationship or our day-to-day life much. After all, we'd been together for five years and we'd lived together for four. We knew each other well, so we wouldn't have to go through the typical growing pains that many newly married couples must face as they learn to share a life and a home together. In a sense, we already felt married - we were simply sealing the deal.

Now that we're married, it's true that, outwardly, not much has changed. But I do feel differently, like marriage has changed our relationship for the better, which I didn't expect.

For one, I wear a wedding band that serves as a daily reminder of the promises I made to Adam on our wedding day. Through life's ups and downs, it's a tangible symbol, a representation of my greatest support system and confidante. I depend on him, and him me.

Being married has also validated our relationship externally. During meetings, our mortgage broker, investment adviser, and family doctor have each nodded approvingly when we told them we were married. In our society, marriage is a public proclamation of stability. Whether you agree or disagree with these social constructs, they've had a real impact on how our relationship is viewed by others and in the eyes of the law.

But, of course, it goes further than the ring and societal expectations. We made vows to each other in front of 110 of the most important people in our lives. That's something I don't take lightly. The first time our officiant pronounced us husband and wife, I felt a thrill. I had a husband. It all felt very serious, very grown-up. For the first few months as newlyweds, Adam and I referred to each other as 'husband' and 'wife' as much as possible - and delighted when others did too.

These days, the thought and reality of having a husband feels more comfortable than novel. More than anything, however, I now feel a stronger sense of permanency and longevity when I think about our relationship. We are now a unit, a family. Even more than moving in together and bringing home a puppy did, marriage has made us feel like we're on the same team. My successes are his, and his mine. We have to work together for the team to succeed. In my eyes, marriage has affirmed our relationship. Even on the difficult days, the days when we bicker and argue, I don't question our relationship because marriage has given it a certain steadiness. Do you need to be married to make this kind of commitment to someone? Of course not! But marriage has certainly had this effect on me.

Brittany Van Den Brink is a PhD Candidate and freelance writer living in small-town Ontario with her husband, baby son, and their Golden Retriever, Chevy. She founded Motherhood Her Way to collaborate with other moms as they go through the ups and downs of motherhood. Say hi on Instagram @brittanyvandenbrink.