7 ways being married is different from living together

Think marriage is just about signing a piece of paper? This wife thinks otherwise. 

Photos: ING Image
Photos: ING Image
16 Apr 2015

Photos: ING Image

You’ve lived with your boyfriend or girlfriend for a while. You’ve grown accustomed to the rhythm and routine of cohabitation, and often joke to your friends that you feel like “an old married couple.” In private, you wonder if things could really be that different even if you were to marry. What surprises could there be? 

1. There’s another level of commitment
1. There’s another level of commitment
16 Apr 2015

1. There’s another level of commitment

This isn’t to say living together doesn’t come with its own commitments. Oh it does. But if you ever excuse yourself from the relationship, you don’t have to deal with messy legal issues like you would in a divorce. (Ever heard about that case where a divorcing couple divided their Beanie Baby collection under the supervision of a judge? That happened for real.) 

When you live together, you both know without having to say it out loud that there’s a safety net: If things get very bad, either of you could walk out – not that it’d be an easy decision at all. But ending a marriage is harder and more complicated than abandoning a living arrangement. 

2.  Prepare to see more of the in-laws.
2. Prepare to see more of the in-laws.
16 Apr 2015

2. Prepare to see more of the in-laws.

Suddenly you’re expected to show up to all sorts of family events. You learn to smile through things like your mother-in-law announcing that you have the ideal “sturdy” physique for bearing a crop of healthy plump sons.

When you marry, you’re also marrying into the obligations, advantages and disadvantages, comfort and discomfort of being a part of your spouse’s whole family. Hopefully your spouse is understanding and mediates when necessary. But there can also be surprising perks to all this: You have more people who care about you. Plus, you get free babysitters and lots of free food. 

3. Less mystery, more TMI moments.
3. Less mystery, more TMI moments.
16 Apr 2015

3. Less mystery, more TMI moments.

If there was some semblance of mystery when you were the couple who moved in together, that mystery is much harder to sustain in marriage. Maybe it’s the realization that you’ll witness their first age spots or that you’ll be the one hauling them to the hospital if they fracture their hip in their old age, but there’s something about this “in sickness and in health, till death do us part” mentality that makes you more willing to pull off your spouse’s blackened toenail for them or check if they really have a hemorrhoid.

It’s not sexy. But it’s marriage. It means knowing that if you ever have a booger half-dangling out of your nose, you can rely on your spouse to reach over and wipe it off or at the very least, tell you it’s there. And they’ll do it in a way that doesn’t embarrass you to death. It can be nice having someone with you for life who is as comfortable with seeing and dealing with your body as you are.

 

4. Fighting is different.
4. Fighting is different.
16 Apr 2015

4. Fighting is different.

After a fight you’re no longer thinking, “Is he going to break up with me? Are we off again now?” You’re married. What’s the point of all the screaming and passive aggressive retorts? You’re just going to go to bed and wake up with them every day regardless, until FOREVER.

Sharing a life with someone ensures you’ll see each other at your happiest, crankiest, laziest, meanest, best and worst. Even if you glimpse these parts of each other when you live together, the difference now is you can’t just throw your hands up and be like, “I can go do better.”

5. Marriage is a legal status that comes with some nice benefits.
5. Marriage is a legal status that comes with some nice benefits.
16 Apr 2015

5. Marriage is a legal status that comes with some nice benefits.

There’s always that one practical friend who declares, “I’d only marry for tax reasons.” They’ve got a point. Spouses get tax, employment, estate planning, and medical benefits.

Married couples enjoy benefits through the Singapore government’s Marriage and Parenthood Package. Tax rebates, childcare subsidies, and a baby bonus? Score! And if you’re buying an HDB flat for the first time, you get priority if you’re married with kids. 

6. The financial situation is different.
6. The financial situation is different.
16 Apr 2015

6. The financial situation is different.

Your whole future is together, so money plays a bigger role. Many couples don’t open joint accounts till after marriage. Even if you keep separate bank accounts, you’ll know more about each others’ assets and spending habits than before. Basically, your finances become increasingly blended.

You might consult your spouse on bigger purchases when you never had to justify splurges to anyone before (“Um, the $1000 pair of Louboutins? I can explain that…”). This could take some getting used to. It’s a bit like keeping each other accountable, which is good when you have the same goals for your future.

7.  You’re a permanent team.
7. You’re a permanent team.
16 Apr 2015

7. You’re a permanent team.

If you continue to live in the same place after you marry, it probably doesn’t look like marriage transformed anything; even your furniture arrangement is the same. But there’s a psychological difference – and it’s not just because you’re off the market. Beyond the little things like your spouse introducing you as “my wife” or “my husband,” there is a deeper sense of security, and the reality of being responsible to someone else permeates everything. They’re your in-case-of-emergency person. Someone who’s got your back for life.  You’re family, a permanent team.

 

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