On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states. Some of us were already married in our respective states, although we had not been afforded Federal benefits. And for those who had not yet married, this landmark decision paved the way for same-sex couples to finally purchase engagement rings, plan weddings and honeymoons, and experience security in many ways never imagined.
Tying the knot is a huge decision, not one to be taken lightly. Your life and relationship will indeed change, sometimes dramatically. Here are some realities to keep in mind:
Getting married might impact coming out issues regarding important people in your life. For example, prior to marriage you might have referred to your fiancé as your partner. Now you have a spouse or wife. Do you feel comfortable using those words with parents or co-workers? Or let’s say that you have gorgeous photos of your big day and a lovely wedding ring. Do you display the pictures and show off your ring at work—especially in a conservative environment? The good news is that you might just be surprised to find that when you take the leap, many people (yes, even the more conservative types) can better relate and empathize with you around wedding excitement and anxiety. You may be shocked to find commonality with people who you had assumed would be judgmental.
You will experience stress TOGETHER. This is a given. Planning a wedding, from finding a venue to deciding on number of guests to figuring out seating arrangements are issues just associated with the wedding. Even planning a wedding provides lots of grist for the stress mill.
The meaning of conflict changes. Once you are legally married, your marriage becomes an entity in and of itself. In other words, it’s you, your spouse, and your marriage. You will tend to fight harder to protect that marriage which is so precious to you. Plus, a divorce takes its toll in many ways, including emotionally, financially, and even physically. This is not always the case, but often couples who are not married may not be quite as dedicated to fixing the relationship. The list of areas of potential conflict seems endless, especially when married. Where to live, in-law problems, children, finances, and sexual issues are just a few areas that can start conflict in your relationship.
Once married, you will see your spouse from all angles. Prior to marriage, especially if you’re not living together, partners can often be on their best behavior. But once married, our authentic sides shine through. You may even be surprised, scared, or angered by some of your spouse’s moods or behaviors. But talking about it together can certainly help.
After the vows, you might experience an “identity crisis” of sorts. The way in which you see yourself might change. In a marriage, we often slip into “roles”—and that can happen on an unconscious level. You might ask yourself, “Who am I now?” You may feel confused, but it is quite common as we adjust to this new chapter in our lives.
The bottom line is that marriage can provide feelings of love and security in your life. But marriage is not for everyone. However, if you choose to live together without tying the proverbial knot, please see an attorney and make sure that you are legally protected in all ways possible.
And above all, even with all the changes that marriage can bring, never lose sight of your love!