When my husband and I were married, we were 26. At the time I felt like a full fledged adult but looking back now, I think I was still a grown baby in a lot of ways. It’s only been 4 years since we said “I do”, but I’m definitely not the woman my husband married. Before we walked down the aisle, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be one of “those wives” that changed for the worse after marriage. I had been told, or rather warned, to never let myself go. I didn’t want to be one of those women that said “not tonight” because “I had a headache”. I didn’t want to look back at my wedding pictures as that moment I peaked and then fell off shortly thereafter. I didn’t want to change.
They say that people change every 7 years or so on average, but for women, maturing isn’t as welcomed as it is for men. In our society, women are told to remain sexy, spontaneous, and a little dumb, with the right amount of sass. Good wives maintain a clean home, make perfect dinners, wrangle the kids, and they are never too tired to have sex with their husbands every night. Good wives stay in shape, nod in agreement, and don’t talk too much. No, I didn’t believe all of these things on my wedding day, but I was familiar with these expectations all of my life. I’ve heard men complain about the lack of sex after marriage. I’ve consoled wives who have been cheated on. I have heard the truth behind marriage jokes. I’ve gotten in between couples who couldn’t get along. And every time the explanation was the same—one spouse drastically changed after marriage.
I didn’t want that to be us. So, I made it my mission to stay in that “honeymoon” phase for as long as possible. I wanted to remain the woman that my husband fell for. What I failed to realize, when you try really hard not to change, it means you’re not growing. When you stop growing, standing still feels like dying. I was changing, whether I wanted to or not. I was growing out of some things and growing in to others. I wanted less material things and more experiences. I wanted to go clubbing less and go on vacations more. I preferred peace over noise and small groups over crowds. I enjoyed going to the movies when no one else did, instead of waiting for midnight releases with long lines. I outgrew friendships. All of which was the very opposite before I said my vows.
I still enjoyed sex, but now appreciated quality over quantity. But I felt that pressure hovering over me that I needed to meet my quota, that happily married couples had more sex than unhappy couples. I was angry that I was changing so much at such a rapid pace. It was like once he slipped that ring on my finger, I slipped into another parallel universe. Who was I? Who was I becoming? During this time, it was a lot of give and take and compromises. And then, we decided to have a baby. And again, I thought, I didn’t want to change once I became a mother. Again I was tormented with stories of failed marriages after having a baby, women who lost themselves in motherhood, about couples growing apart, and infidelity. Again, I didn’t want that to be us.
But yet again I underwent another metamorphosis. After having our daughter—I let myself go. I now have an unflattering stomach, drooping breasts, and cellulite. I was really tired most nights and others, I actually did have a headache, but I pushed myself to be available, way before I was probably ready. There’s this pressure to “snap back” after having a baby, as if we’re punishing our husband’s if we don’t. So many things occur that force change, some good, some not so good.
The point that I’m making is, it’s impossible not to change. Seeds that are planted eventually grow and blossom. Caterpillars turn into butterflies. Women who become wives and then mothers will change too. So what? It’s growth. I’d like to think that my foundation is the same—my beliefs, my moral compass, my heart. But I’m different in so many other ways and it’s totally fine. I’m not in my twenties anymore. So, yes, I have changed. My circle is smaller. My thoughts run deeper. I’m harder on myself. I think before I do something ( a lot). I’m exhausted and not as spontaneous. My body is different. I’m probably not as fun. I’d like to think that I’m still home, I’m just looking out of a different window, if that makes sense.
Don’t be afraid to change. Fighting it as caused me more misery than I can explain. I’ll probably change again. If it brings me peace and happiness, I’ll welcome it this time around. Growing together is a process every married couple has to accept.