Saying ‘I Do’ – Does It Really Change Anything?

On the 28th December, Steve made ‘an honest woman out of me’. We got married in front our close family and friends in a small backyard ceremony. It was everything I hoped it would be: laidback and filled with laughter.

It’s been a month, and we just got our photos back, so I thought now would be a good opportunity to reflect on marriage – from getting engaged through to saying I do. What changes, what doesn’t? I want to talk about it all; sex, arguing, finances, the whole nine-yards. 

If you’re married or planning a wedding, keep reading to learn more about our experience, and feel free to share yours in the comments – we’d be keen to hear your thoughts. 

The proposal

Before Steve and I became a couple, we were coworkers. Over six months of sitting next to each other, we became friends. During that time, I told him I wanted to get married one day. He had replied that he found marriage pointless.

There was a part of me that agreed with him. If you’re in a long-term relationship and you live together, share finances and have goals and plans for the future together, what does marriage actually change? But knowing that didn’t change the fact it was something I wanted. 

Once we became a couple, marriage came up in hypothetical conversations from time to time. I told him it was still something I wanted. He understood, but said he wouldn’t get married until his sister was legally allowed to marry.

And then same-sex marriage became legal in Australia, and Di was married within the first few months of the law passing.

A month after her wedding on my 28th birthday, he told me he would marry me one day, he just needed to find the ‘right’ moment. 

But when is the right moment to propose?

It was almost 18 months later when Steve finally found that ‘right’ moment. One morning, we were lying in bed and he was telling me how much he loved me.

“I really do want to marry you,” he said.

I smiled and kissed him, before replying, “You know I want to. But you’ve said that a lot. It doesn’t really mean much anymore without a ring.”

And then he jumped out of bed and said, “Come on, let’s go.”

“Where?”

“To buy a ring obviously!”

Should you buy your engagement ring together?

I know that people are divided on this. Some care a lot about what the ring actually looks like and would prefer to buy it with their partner so they’re not disappointed. A girl I used to work with once described her perfect ring to me, down to the clarity, colour and cut of the diamond. It’s an expensive item that you’re meant to wear everyday, so I appreciated where she was coming from.

Others don’t care about what the ring looks like and simply want the proposal to be a romantic surprise. Instead of describing their perfect ring, they’re imagining their perfect proposal, with their future fiancé down on one knee when they least expect it. These people typically feel as though buying the ring together means the surprise is spoiled. I can also appreciate this.

I think what mattered the most to me was the spontaneity. We literally got up, got dressed, jumped on a train into the city where I browsed rings on my phone. I found one I liked, so we walked into the store and bought it. 

And then we went to the footy and spent the afternoon celebrating. I’d never pictured how he’d do it, but in hindsight it was exactly ‘us’.

Wedding planning & managing expectations

Some people take years to plan their wedding. Others spend years being engaged without even starting the planning. But we both just wanted to be married; the engagement didn’t really matter. We decided we wanted to get married at Christmas, so we only gave ourselves six months to organise everything. As we learned from Steve’s sister Di (who planned hers in half the time), this was more than achievable.

One thing I did learn, however, was that almost everyone has expectations on what your wedding day should be. Relatives wanted input on decorations, speeches, guests… everything. It wasn’t intended to be controlling; it was simply excitement taking over their better judgment. But good lord was it frustrating and exhausting. 

We didn’t want a big wedding. We wanted something laidback, intimate and fun with our close friends and family. Essentially, a party where we happened to stop for fifteen minutes to say some important things and sign some ceremonial documents (yes – that marriage certificate you get on the day is only for show. The real one costs $55 and you order it online from the state government).

The big day

Thankfully, when the day finally arrived, it was exactly what we both wanted. I mean, it would’ve been nice if it was about ten degrees cooler (the mercury reached 42°C), but otherwise I had no complaints. We had fun. We said some nice things – and some funny things – to each other, and we said ‘I do’. We even got a plug for Sneak Peak from the celebrant – you can take a look below!

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What doesn’t marriage change?

No more preamble. This is what you came here to read. 

We’re obviously only newly married, but from what I can gather these are things that typically don’t change once you tie the knot.

Communication

If you struggle to communicate in your relationship, making it ‘official’ in the eyes of the government won’t make it any easier. You’ll still need to work on it. Recently, Steve and I have made a commitment to spend some time together each night without phones so we can properly talk. It seems like a small thing, but it has a big impact.

Finances

If you or your partner isn’t good at managing money, this won’t change just because you’re married. That’s not saying you can’t change your ways. In our relationship I’m the spendthrift, while Steve is the tightass. But we’ve had joint accounts for years with common savings goals (like running our sex shop!) so nothing much has changed.

Habits

Steve literally referenced my habit of wiping around appliances on the kitchen bench rather than lifting them up in his wedding vows. Mine referenced his desire to play the stereo ridiculously loud. I don’t expect either of these things to change. Everyone has quirks. If you’re going to marry someone, you should be able to accept theirs.

Sex

Sexual chemistry is very important in a relationship, married or otherwise. Thankfully, if you’ve got good chemistry before you get married, you’ll most likely maintain that post-Honeymoon. If you’re reading this, you most likely already know enough about mine and Steve’s sexual chemistry to know not much has changed.  

What it does change

So, what does getting married change? These are the things I’ve noticed already. 

Sex

Okay, so I know I just said it doesn’t change. And it doesn’t, for the most part. But if you’re planning to have kids, it can be less about having fun together, and more about biology. While we’re not personally trying at the moment, the discussion has come up and it’s definitely made me think about how sex could change once we’re ready.

Family

Our families have always been very accepting of us as people, but getting married definitely had an impact. It’s almost like they take us more seriously. This is perhaps more directed at the older generations, but it did feel like before we were married they thought we were only ‘playing house’. 

Arguments

While your communication won’t magically improve with a wedding ring, arguments do feel different. Maybe it’s the knowledge that if you’re sick of the person, there’s a whole year of separation to get through before you can be officially rid of them. Or maybe it’s simply that you know what you signed up for.

Jokes

Whenever one of us complains about something the other has done, we’ll almost without fail reply with, “Well, the jokes on you, you married me.” There’s also the daily shout of “Divorce!” (during our engagement it was “Wedding’s off!”). Steve adds, “Being able to refer to you now as my property has made the entire experience worthwhile.”

Cass & Steve kissing on wedding day

Why even get married?

For some people, marriage heralds the beginning of your life together. I work with a girl who only moved in with her husband after their wedding day. 

But for me, it was our moment to say to the world, “Yep, this is the one I want to start my own family with.” 

While only a few things change (at least at this early stage), it’s definitely a decision I don’t regret – despite Steve’s ‘property’ jokes 😆.