It’ll be the loneliest time of your life.
When the US Supreme Court issued their ruling on marriage equality last year, finally making it legal for any citizen of the United States to get married, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s heartfelt written opinion put a lump in the throat of even the most bitter divorcée (by which I mean me).
“Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live, there will be someone to care for the other. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
When I heard these words, I found myself longing to get married again.
The problem is, what Kennedy said is not true – or, at least, it wasn’t true for me. You can be married and still “call out only to find no one there”. And I don’t think I was a “greater” person when I was married. I think I was awful, and I’m pretty sure my ex-husband would back me up on that.
And so, in that spirit, here are 16 super-sucky things no one tells you about marriage.
1. You’ll still feel lonely
The assumption is that once you’re married, you’ll never be lonely again. In reality, there’s nothing lonelier than lying in bed next to your life partner, the person who’s supposed to love you forever, no matter what, and feeling completely alone. Marriage takes loneliness to a whole new level.
2. You can’t do whatever you want
When you’re single, you get used to coming and going as you please, making a mess or keeping things tidy, being in charge of your finances, and choosing your next Netflix binge-watch on your own. When you’re married, suddenly you’re accountable to someone else all the time and have to take their wishes and habits into consideration. The novelty of this wears off – fast. Trust me.
3. You’ll be jealous of your friends’ marriages
Getting married is like being admitted to a secret club, only to find out there isn’t actually a club at all. You’ll still feel like you’re on the outside looking in, marveling at your happily married friends and wondering how they do it.
4. You’ll be jealous of your single friends
Singlehood was always something to be avoided – that is, until you got married. Then it never looked so good. You’ll be eager for juicy details about your single friends’ love lives, and you’ll wonder if you’d have found someone better if you’d only kept swiping a little longer.
5. You’ll hate your partner sometimes
I’m not saying you’ll be annoyed by him, I’m suggesting you will actually hate him. No one can get under your skin like your spouse. Although, in my experience, hating your husband is better than feeling complete apathy toward him – at least there’s some passion in hatred. When you feel nothing is when you should really be worried.
6. It’s boring
How many times can you listen to the same story about how his family got in a terrible fight that one Christmas during a blizzard? Is he always going to read the highway signs out loud when you’re on a road trip? Will he ever remember you like your eggs over easy, not scrambled? Life gets predictable pretty quick when you’re married.
7. It’s gross
We all know that once men get comfortable in a relationship, they pretty much stop holding back on hiding their bodily functions. But what you may not anticipate is that you probably will too. You’ll both be letting it all hang out all the time. Want to take bets on who will start leaving the bathroom door open first?
8. It’s disappointing
Getting married is supposed to be a big deal, especially if you’re a girl who’s grown up with the dream of having a fairytale wedding and living happily ever after. It can be a huge letdown to learn marriage isn’t all rainbows and romance.
9. You’ll grow apart from your friends
Your single friends will be busy dating and doing fun single-people things. Your married friends will be busy arguing over which Netflix show to watch while they sit on the sofa, burping and farting together. Remember when I said marriage can be the most exquisitely painful form of loneliness?
10. It requires A LOT of work
This is probably one we’ve all been told before, even if we didn’t listen at the time. Marriage is hard work – but you’ll never really understand that statement until you’re married. And it’s not ‘isn’t it great we’re in this together’ type work, it’s ‘I’d literally rather be anywhere else than here, with anyone else but you’ type work.
11. Your illusions will be shattered
Whatever you expected marriage to be like, it won’t be like that. You could be reading this list and thinking none of these things will apply to you because you’re coming from a totally other place. That’s all well and good, but I promise it’ll be something else for you… it always is.
12. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong
How are you supposed to do this wife thing, anyway? As with most things we fetishize in our culture, the idea of marriage comes with a lot of preconceived ideas and emotional baggage. Maybe you think your marriage should look like your parents’ marriage, or maybe you want it to look nothing like that at all, leading you to melt down when it does. Whatever you do, you can be sure that at some point you’ll feel like you’re fucking it up.
13. You’ll wonder why you ever liked your partner in the first place
Couples counseling: $200 an hour. That moment at couples counseling when the therapist asks you what first attracted you to your partner and you can’t come up with an answer: priceless.
14. You’ll think about divorce all the time
When you learn Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck can’t make their marriage work, you’ll fear you’re next. When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin “consciously uncouple”, you’ll wonder how you and your husband would handle splitting up. Once you’re married, the possibility of divorce is an ever-present reality.
15. Most of your problems can never be solved
John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, says 69 per cent of a couple’s problems are perpetual. In other words, they’re unsolvable. These fundamental differences in personality or lifestyle are things you’re just going to have to learn to live with. I guess the good news is that you can stop pretending to even try to work out your differences.
16. If you get divorced, your next marriage is even more likely to fail
They say that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. But in the case of marriage, you might want to think twice about that. Studies show that 50 per cent of first marriages, 67 per cent of second marriages and 73 per cent of third marriages end in divorce. Personally, I learned a lot from my first marriage and think I’d do better the second time around – but who am I to argue with statistics?
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