The Unexpected Identity Crisis That Comes After the Wedding That No One Talks About

It's the best day of your life. But it can also be followed by some serious anxiety.

Patricia Marroquin/ Getty Images

By Jessica Crooke

Marriage, to put it simply, is the best. But any newlywed knows that it comes with its fair share of adjustments. Here are a few things no one tells you about the identity crisis that comes after the wedding.

Getting married is one of the most beautiful and life-changing experiences of life. For starters, finding someone who you’re willing to pledge the rest of your life to is extraordinary and overwhelming in itself—but the most extraordinary is then getting to experience life in a whole new light, in a whole new way, with a team member and best friend by your side.

I’m all in for marriage.

My husband and I had a lot of advice given to us by well-meaning friends and family before the wedding. Some of it was applicable to us, and some of it not. We’ve learned a lot about healthy relationships by looking up to the happy, successful marriages of close friends and family—like how to communicate with your partner, how to show affection to your partner, how to split household responsibilities, etc.

But amongst all the marital advice I was given, one thing that wasn’t discussed was my own personal transition from being single to being a wife, and how to best go about it. For some, there is a huge identity shift that takes place after the wedding. Not to say that it is a negative one—but it is definitely a reality that some feel more than others, especially if you are accustomed to an independent lifestyle.

It’s important to talk about this shift and know that it’s ok to feel a little foreign or out of place during the first few months of marriage when it comes to your identity.

Here are a few scenarios and pieces of advice that I didn’t hear about before the wedding, that I wish I had:

1. Friends might ask how “you guys” are doing instead of how “you” are doing.

You’re part of a dynamic duo now! It’s the best feeling to know that your partner has your back for forever and always. But know that others now see you as a dynamic duo as well, and will interact with you a little different. The first question at the party might be, “How’s life for you two?” Or, “How’s married life?” Maybe, “What do you guys think about (blank)?”

In the process of adjusting to this, make an effort to still share personal thoughts and news, in addition to marital ones. For example, you could say, “We’re loving the first year of marriage! And we’re both really excited right now about the new job I got…!” Transition the conversation to sharing about yourself, independent of your partner. Talking about your partner and marriage is so important and definitely encouraged, so this advice is not meant to imply that life is all about you. But maintaining your own identity and sharing this with your friends is valuable and important—sharing personal news, goals, thoughts and challenges with those close to you is important.

And this goes both ways! Make sure to invest in the personal identities of your married friends by asking them personal questions about their work or interests.

2. The guy at Trader Joe’s might not be as quick and eager to help you anymore.

I’m just going to address this because not a lot of people talk about it due to feelings of guilt, or shameful confusion for even noticing it. That wedding ring changes everything, people!

First, it does so in the best ways possible. I feel more proud and safe wearing my wedding ring, as a woman, than I ever could have expected. I love the physical representation of my marriage and the commitment to my husband being one of the first things that the world sees about me. And I have no interest in misleading men or flirting with anyone besides my husband.

It does not make you any less happy, less in love or any less grateful for the amazing gift of a forever-partner and best friend.

But the ring brings a change in the way people treat you. You might be like me, who thought that the guys at Trader Joe’s were just so accommodating and friendly just because they’re really nice guys. Naive, I know. But once your married, they start just being “normal” friendly to you and “extra” friendly to that other young girl in line who isn’t wearing a wedding ring. Can you blame them?

Now, this is not a big deal—but it is a wakeup call and change in the way you might feel about yourself. I was recently called “ma’am” for the first time, and it was not easy. The reason I bring this up is because I noticed it, and if you’re a newlywed, you might be noticing it, too. And that’s ok. You’re not a bad person who is maliciously seeking attention from the opposite sex outside of marriage. You’re simply feeling a shift from single girl (or guy) treatment to married woman (or man) treatment. It’s as simple as an identity shift, and you will recover from it in no time at all.

So, single girls, I salute you! Enjoy getting that last package of cauliflower rice that the Trader Joe’s guy voluntarily tore the store apart hunting down for you.

3. You might miss a little bit of independence.

Everyone transitions from pre-wedding to post-wedding in a different way. But if you were previously living a very independent life as a young working professional, you might feel a little mourning over your previous independence. The new normal involves shopping for two, plans for two, dinner for two and social activities for two—even more so than during the dating portion of your relationship.

Again, this is great in so many ways! I love my husband and truly would rather be with him than by myself. But sometimes, for example, I really want to order Indian food and watch “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and he wants pizza and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Normally, this is when that key piece of marriage advice surrounding compromise comes in to play (Indian food and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” perhaps?).

However, you can still have the “no-compromise food and movie choice” moments of your single days!

My husband and I have a shared calendar on our phones. When I see that he has a late work event or plans with a friend in the calendar, I’ll use those opportunities for some intentional “me time,” and I know he does the same when the situation is reversed. You’ll love the “me time” moments but if you’re anything like me, will be even more excited to spend the evening with your partner the next day.

Marriage, to put it simply, is the best—and what you gain out of marriage far surpasses any little grievances over “single life” living. However, it’s ok to grieve a little bit during the adjustments and growing pains. It does not make you any less happy, less in love or any less grateful for the amazing gift of a forever-partner and best friend.

In the end, you are still you—just with an added bonus. 

Originally published on Lightworkers.com

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