This post is not about weddings, it's about the thing that comes after, the thing that a great deal of the wedding industry doesn't give a flying one about; the marriage. I know right, who wants to talk about marriage? Bor-ing. But bear with me, that's sort of the point.
I got married in a little ceremony at the local windmill with our immediate family, a shit load of cake and a basket of custom temporary tattoos. It was an awesome way to celebrate tying the knot with my partner of ten years, and for the first six months after the wedding, most people greeted us with the same question; “How's married life?”
“The same,” we'd answer, in unison, like we were hell bent on morphing in to a post-marital two-headed monster. And we said that because it was the truth — our relationship was, for the most part, exactly the same. We still hung out with our friends on weekends, texted each other at work, and spent most evenings in our pajamas playing Playstation.
But it wasn't the full truth, because we had noticed a difference, a huge difference actually. But it wasn't us that had changed, it was how everyone else saw us…
You might not notice it now, because our culture appears besotted with the search for The One and having that Big Fat Dream Wedding, but marriage doesn't have the greatest reputation. Wives are even more unpopular. I read every blog going about being a feminist bride — “Can my father walk me down the aisle?” “Should I change my name?” “Is it un-feminist to wear a wedding ring?” — but I didn't come across anything about being a feminist wife, and as a result I was thoroughly unprepared for the post-wedding sexism I was about to encounter.
I'm not trying to suggest that as a white, monogamous cis-het couple, we are facing extreme prejudice or stigma here. I know we get all the privileges and then some. But, if you're about to get married, it might pay to be prepared for some of the bizarre encounters you are probably going to have with friends, family and colleagues in the days and weeks after the wedding.
So here's the scoop…
From day one, you are fighting against the idea that marriage is shit, and you, the wife, are probably a bitch
Subconsciously or not, as a newly married couple you spend every day trying to prove that your marriage is not boring, because absolutely everything around you tells you it must be. And every time you are too drunk or too tired or too full of pasta to fuck, you look at your partner's back turned away from you and think “Shit, is this it? Is it happening to us?”
Whenever someone addressed me by name, they'd immediately correct themselves with “Or should I say, Mrs…”
Then they'd throw to me, with a cheesy grin, for the big reveal of my new name. When I told them it was the same as before, no one even tried to hide their disappointment. True story: I was even told there was no point in getting married if I wasn't going to change my name. Seven months later, every Christmas card that arrived in the post was addressed to “Mr and Mrs My Husband's Name.”
“The Old Ball and Chain”
Probably the most surprising sexism I encountered was that for a couple of weeks, every time I said anything to my husband, like “could you please pass me X” or “do you think we should do Y”, the people around us would wink and laugh and elbow each other with a round of “Ooh, look who is under the thumb! Better do what the Mrs says! Old ball and chain, eh?” Wink, wink, wink.
I had no idea what to do the first time this happened, and to be honest I still don't know what the correct reaction is. As society has repeatedly told me, on the day I got married I also became a controlling, passive aggressive, sex-withholding, rolling-pin wielding burden on my partner. Lucky him, right?
Fortunately, my husband is a cool guy, who knows I am the same awesome person as before. But every myth, no matter how cheery it seems, has the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, because you have such heightened awareness of any part of it that starts to ring true.
Consider this your warning
Chances are, by the time you make it up the aisle (or cave tunnel or forest path or whatever cool thing you're doing), you're going to be pretty hardened to the sexist shitstorm that is getting hitched. But just in case you thought you were home-free after you'd opened the last gift plastered with a bespangled “Mr and Mrs” across the front, consider this your warning that there's more to come.
And do not, for one second, allow the haters to make you doubt that you are still the sexy, fun, independent person (and partner) that you were before you said “I do.”