Marriage is one of life’s milestones, marking a major change in a couple’s life — which may be why some couples delay marriage longer than others.
But besides the obvious, like changing names, gaining in-laws, joining bank accounts, what other changes can couples expect when they go from boyfriend and girlfriend, to husband and wife?
1. Shift in Identity
The social expectations associated with marriage alter the way that partners think about themselves. “Assuming the role of husband and wife is one of the most important social roles,” says University of Massachusetts psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne. “In studies, husbands and wives place their family identity as the most important aspect in their sense of self.”
2. Feeling ‘Grounded’
Many couples report a sense of calm and relief knowing they’re no longer alone once the vows are said and the ring is on the finger. There becomes a feeling of security and a true partnership, says Lyss Stern, parenting blogger and CEO of DivaMoms.com.
3. Spiritual Reconnection
After engagement or marriage, couples become spiritual and return to the religions of their youth, says marriage and family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer. “[Couples] become profoundly grateful for having found their life and soulmate, and desire to reconnect to their God or religious community.” Couples also feel more connected to their families and childhood friends.
You will suddenly realize how good you get at negotiating, says Stern. Every decision, whether it’s about finances or family, is made with both people in mind, she explains, as compromising is crucial when building a future together. Adds Hokemeyer: “We must move out of the self-absorbed stage into a mature place of selflessness.”
5. Lust to Love
In the beginning, lust fuels the relationship and is often mistaken for love. For the love to last, it must transform into respect and appreciation for the wholeness of the other person, says Hokemeyer. For the long-term, these feelings transcend time, physical beauty, health, and financial stability.
6. Sex Needs
The frequency and intensity may change over time, both for the better and the worse (if you let it). As Hokemeyer says of married couples, “both partners are now able to feel more confident in their relationship and in their bodies. This opens them up to the opportunity to explore their sexuality on a deeper and more intense level.” And to ensure a lasting relationship, it’s crucial that couples maintain this passion and desire.
Marriage is a gift and the backbone of our society. As the experts are clear to note, couples don’t expect how truly different being married feels. For those hesitant to make the lifelong commitment, Whitbourne suggests examining those feelings with a professional to determine whether or not you’re ready to take the plunge.
This article originally appeared on Fox News Magazine.
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