Exchanging rings and saying “I do” is just the start of your life together. My first year of marriage was filled with joy, struggle, compromise and some unexpected changes. Here are the five most surprising things about being a newlywed.
1. I noticed all the ways my life could accommodate a baby
While I’m still not ready to turn my life over to a drooling little monster, post-wedding I started to notice how well one could fit into it. It’s as if a lawfully wedded partner was the final piece my biological clock needed to turn on. I was suddenly looking at the world through a new lens that brought all the ways my life was ready to accommodate a child into sharp focus; I started appreciating the five star safety rating of my vehicle and how perfectly a car seat would fit into the backseat. The home office? It could easily be converted into a nursery, I observed. I used to secretly make fun of girls who got married and couldn’t focus on anything but babies, but once I got married, I kind of wanted to have babies too.
2. I gained weight (or, more accurately, returned to my normal weight)
I could write an entire essay on this topic alone. In fact, at some point in the not so distant future I probably will. But, to simplify: your wedding weight is not real, and you will eventually return to your normal weight. Learn from my mistake, and don’t freak out when this happens. In the months before my wedding I never dieted or even restricted what I ate. In fact, I felt like I was eating whatever I wanted, but, in reality, the stress had diminished my appetite and I was eating less of everything and sometimes even forgetting to eat lunch—I NEVER do this. As a result, I became my super skinny wedding self. This phenomenon is not unique to me. Just about every bride talks about how uncharacteristically thin she got seemingly by accident before her wedding. The flip side to this is that after the wedding is over, you return to your normal weight. In my case, I gained a couple pounds more than my normal weight after the wedding, making the contrast between super skinny bride Maggie and normal Maggie all the more extreme. I beat myself up endlessly about it until, one day, I threw out my scale. Since then, I’m sure my weight has fluctuated the normal 5 pounds over and under my “normal” weight, but without the scale to tell me, I neither notice nor care.
3. My formal china collected dust
As much fun as I had picking it out, overjoyed as I was to receive it, and happy as it makes me to look at in the china cabinet, I don’t use my formal wedding china. This is not an argument for skipping the formal china—I love traditions and would register for it all over again—but at this point in my newlywed life, the china gets more dust than use.
4. I took an interest in cooking and housekeeping
Yes, it’s old fashioned, but so is marriage. Don’t let your inner feminist beat you up because you find yourself falling into traditional roles. I learned that it’s okay to want to be a good and caring wife. Cooking delicious, nourishing meals and keeping a beautiful, inviting home is just another way for me to show my partner love and value our relationship. It would also be okay if I demonstrated love and appreciation in other ways–contemporary feminism is all about having options and the freedom to make choices about how we want to live our lives without judgement.