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Does Marriage Really Change Everything?

Posted By in Travel Musings, What I've Learned | 47 comments

Does Marriage Really Change Everything?

“So why aren’t you married?”

The question came from a young Australian married couple during a dinner with some new colleagues. I shrugged, and gave the usual answer: “We’ll probably get married eventually – the timing just hasn’t been right yet.” “Besides”, I added, “nothing is really going to change if we get married anyway”.  The Australian girl looked at me with the kind of expression that a couple approaching their golden anniversary would give to a pair of teenagers celebrating their first “monthiversary” ; the look that says “Your love is cute and everything, but you have no idea what real commitment is all about.”

“Oh no,” she assured me, “it’s very different once you get married. Everything changes”.

If I was physically capable of raising a sly, questioning eyebrow, I would have done so at that moment. This girl was only 2 years into her relationship with her husband (1 of those years married), and they were beginning their first venture into couples travel. Brent and I have been together for 4 years, with nearly 2 of those years spent almost constantly traveling as a couple. If anything, I thought she was the one who had no idea of the probable challenges that lay ahead in her relationship.

It’s not the first time I’ve received this reaction from married friends (or in this case from a perfect stranger, but hey): They tell me that marriage tests a relationship in ways that I can’t understand. I counter that there’s no real difference between the challenges of a marriage and those of a committed long-term relationship – particularly when that long-term relationship has involved a lot of traveling as a couple. I find it difficult to believe that there’s some trial that awaits us in a potential marriage that we haven’t already faced during all the times that we’ve been sleep-deprived, lost, hungry, smelly, scared, sick and everything else together.

marriage vs. common law

Brent’s reaction to this post? Perhaps.

Is being married really tougher than traveling as a couple? How does 1.5 years of travel together measure up against a hypothetical 1.5 years of marriage?

Merging of Finances

AKA “Do you still have separate bank accounts?”

I guess this almost always comes up because money is an enormous source of stress and conflict for many couples.  I don’t even remember the exact moment when Brent and I decided to combine our money.  Perhaps we should have given more forethought to such an objectively significant decision. When we first left Canada, we had both quit our jobs, and had no fixed sources of income – just a couple lumps of money to keep us going for an indefinite amount of time. It seemed only logical to combine those lumps into one, since we were going to be spending them on the same things anyway – flights, food, bus tickets.

At first, life with combined finances seemed as simple as no longer worrying about splitting the bill at dinner, but eventually we needed to face emerging resentment over each other’s spending habits. If I was out shopping alone, I began to wonder what Brent would think about the purchases I was making. Then there was a moment when I realized that Brent now thought of my student loans as his debt too.

There have been times when we’ve felt rich and carefree, and other times when we have felt terrifyingly poor.  It’s still not always easy, but a year and half of financial uncertainty has tested our ability to work through the money decisions together.

couple in Rome

The End of Pretenses

AKA: “Something just feels different after you get married; the relationship changes.”

Married friends sometimes talk about changes in the relationship dynamic that occur after marriage, and the root has something to do with the end of pretenses. You loose the ability to only show your prettiest, thoughtful-est side to your partner, and you start to see each other differently.

Before we began traveling as a couple, I could still ensure that Brent rarely saw me without make-up on, and I could shield him from most of my bad moods. Now, Brent and I work together, live together, and most of the time, we’re each other’s only immediate source of social support. Traveling as a couple has quite literally shown us the best and the worst of one another.  We’ve witnessed each other being pushed to our individual limits. We’ve seen each other giddy with excitement and full of enthusiasm, but we’ve also been together in times of depression, fear and utter defeat.

I think we’ll always be discovering new things about one another (which is great because wouldn’t relationships get a little boring if we could truly know another person through and through?), but we already have a pretty profound understanding of who the other person is. We don’t need a marriage to show us that.

couple wrestling

A Serious Commitment

AKA: “After you get married, you’re really in it. You feel like you can’t just walk away from the relationship anytime”

Brent and I are 1000’s of miles from our friends and family. Our jobs, our house, and our car are contingent upon us working together as a couple. If we wanted to call it quits, it wouldn’t be as simple as an emotional goodbye and a hastily packed bag. A break-up would mean losing our home, our jobs, and probably separate journeys back to Canada to pick up the pieces and start over.  When we fight, we both know what’s at stake if we can’t work things out. It’s true that we wouldn’t have to get lawyers involved to untangle ourselves, but, in the practical sense, the lifestyle we’ve chosen has bound us to each other as much as a marriage.

There are times when I love Brent so much that it hurts, and times when he irritates me more than any other person in the world possibly could. But, at the end of the day, when I look into the future, I can’t imagine it with anyone but him. I haven’t signed any documents to confirm it, but my decision almost 2 years ago to take off into the unknown with him was made with the same trust and hope as any vow.

couples travel

The funny thing about all of this is that I actually do want to get married someday.  If the right time comes, I love the idea of wearing a beautiful dress, throwing a huge party, and celebrating love.  But it doesn’t really matter when that happens because when the wedding is over, our relationship will still be the same.

 

It would still just be me and him, creating a life together – wherever in the world that might be.

Couples: What do you think? What challenges have you faced together? Am I totally wrong about the marriage thing?

47 Comments

  1. Greg Goodman April 10, 2013

    Great post! My answer is yes, marriage really does change everything.

    My wife and I have backpacked together for a combined total of a bit more than 1.5 years over the pats 8. We lived together in a remote village in Nicarauga with 600 other people for 7 months. We've lived in Chiang Mai, New York City, San Francisco and Washington DC as well. We've spent nearly two years of the 8 years we've been together apart due to one of us traveling or living abroad and the other not. We spent much of our time saying, "what's the difference… we're basically married anyway. What is a piece of paper going to change." Then we got married two years ago and everything changed.

    It's really a small change overall. Life goes on exactly the same in practical terms. But mentally, there is a shift that is difficult to explain. The amazing sense of calmness and a excitement to spend ones life together increases. I honestly think the love does as well. It's almost like it's on a whole new level. The simple act of having a ring on your finger screams to the world "I LOVE MY WIFE WHEREVER SHE IS" far more than telling someone about your girlfriend. Sure, that's external validation, but it also settles the inside.

    I have a tough time describing the change. As I said, it's a collection of subtle things. I thought things were perfect after 6 years of dating around the world. They are more perfect now. No matter how much you love your partner, not being married always leaves that slight out-clause. Sure, you can't imagine you would ever use it, but being married removes that out completely. (yes, you could interject the concept of divorce here, but for argument's sake, let's not).

    Anyway, I could rant on and on about love and my dear wife Carrie and how much happier we are being married, but I'll instead say, take the leap. I'll also end with wise words I once read on a blog post, as rewritten by someone who spent a long time in your exact situation and had the exact same thoughts…

    “Oh no,” Greg assured Jess, “it’s very different once you get married. Everything changes”.

    My recent post Musings, Observations and Interesting Experiences from the Philippines

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      I appreciate your perspective, Greg. Maybe every relationship is different. Or maybe there really is small shift that happens after marriage that I won't really understand until we do get hitched. I like that you felt the change was a positive one and a deeper commitment to one another, since I've had many people make it sound like life together suddenly gets more challenging after you get married.

  2. OCDemon April 10, 2013

    Saw an article recently on the same topic, and the author made the point that people are lucky nowadays in that they actually get to know someone before getting married. And being on the road or living together for a while will teach those lessons pretty quickly.
    My recent post Bucket List Math

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      Definitely! I think it's a huge benefit to be able to enter into a marriage already knowing that you have a relationship that endure through both the good and the bad.

  3. Vanessa April 10, 2013

    Interesting, interesting post! I love finally being married to Dan after being together for 5 years, but we were long distance for the 3 years before we got married, so I can't speak as one who has lived and traveled together unmarried. In the end, I think it depends on what your background is and how you approach the relationship. For me, with marriage came the feeling of being comfortable and confident planning the far future together (like Greg said above). But no one's to say that you can't do that unmarried.

    I've been criticized for being married "so young," and it sounds like you've been criticized for not being married. I always just tell myself that no one else knows our relationship better than us. Each person is coming from a different idea of what is "marriage," so their opinions shouldn't hinder me.

    Being married to Dan has changed our relationship, but not the way we treat each other. We still play games together, split chores, consult each other about spending, etc, but for us personally, it feels good to have a secure idea of our future together. If you decide that you are right for each other, are going to stay together, and are cool with not being "married," who cares what other people think. You know your relationship better than anyone else. HERE'S TO LOVE! 😀
    My recent post Top 5 Ways To (Not) Be An Offensive Foreigner In Korea

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      I second your love toast! It's funny that you were criticized for being married too young. I felt like our relationship was totally cool when we were in our early 20s; but the minute we hit our mid-20s, our friends started getting married (some that had been together longer, and some less), and then suddenly everyone was looking at us and screaming "What are you waiting for?!"

      I think you're totally right when you say that everyone has a different idea of what "marriage" is. I think that every couples' personal definition of marriage plays a big role in how much it ultimately impacts their relationship.

  4. mindypostoff April 10, 2013

    Marriage changes so much but mostly the way others respond to you. Much of what changes we can not explain but it's just wonderful! A strong sense of responsibility? A comfort? A security? Yes, to all this but oh so much more! Highly recommend it, but only if it's to the right person. 🙂
    My recent post Batad: Hiking Among the Banaue Rice Terraces

  5. Jessica Wray April 10, 2013

    Great post! Now on my trip I'm starting to realize how traveling as a couple long term really is. Thankfully it is going fantastically, but it can be tough. You are right, the best and worst and everything is exposed when you are traveling! Especially during times of hunger, exhaustion and being over-whelmed!
    Don't feel like there is any rush to get married…I sure don't! Happy travels and it was fun to read about your guys' awesome relationship 🙂
    My recent post Postcards from the Taj Mahal

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      Thanks, Jessica! I'm glad to hear it's going well for you guys. We joke a lot about the combination of hunger and irritation that is "h-anger". Usually when we find ourselves arguing over absolutely nothing, one of us will have the wisdom to realize that we seriously just need to take a break from whatever we're doing and eat something.

  6. Yve April 10, 2013

    Oh, to be young(er) and in love and in Europe again. Yes, marriage changes things because marriage is long and things change over the years. Money, pretenses, and not being single anymore are petty grievances when it comes to marriage.

    The problem is there are so many unforeseen circumstances in life that no matter how well you know your partner, their reactions to said circumstances – circumstances you may never think of discussing going into marriage – may throw you off guard and shake your union.

    A death in the family might change his or your ideals – the change will most likely not occur in both of you because y’all are individuals with separate pasts and upbringings, after all. A miscarriage might take y’all through depression – an unpredictable disease. Aging will change the way y’all see yourselves (not just on the outside, of course) and what y’all have accomplished. If y’all choose to raise kids, that will test your strength and world views – unresolved issues from your own childhoods might rear their ugly heads and bring up fears/emotions you’d thought you had overcome; caring for and disciplining a child will very likely turn you into someone you never were before, and letting go of who y’all used to be is a relationship changer. If y’all decide to settle down in one place, strange work schedules might make one of you feel alone or resentful or like you’re bearing the bulk of responsibilities. Not to mention shit like car accidents, sicknesses, buying a house, buying a dog…

    Traveling together, which my husband and I did on and off for the first three years of our marriage, will open your mind, make you wiser, and create great memories – and yes there are tons of unforeseen circumstances you must work through together while traveling, but it’s not practice for or equivocal to “life’s big events.” Sorry for getting so deep and sounding like an old crazy lady – I’m only 30 but have been married for 9 years, and a lot happens in 9 years, way more than just sharing money and a living space.

    Don’t scoff at people who say marriage changes things 🙂 Yes, you can go through the kinds of stuff I’ve mentioned above while dating for 10 years too. So I guess a more accurate statement is “long-term commitments change things.” Right now it looks to the advice-givers as though y’all are just out there having fun and they feel they can’t help but warn y’all not to take it for granted. People would say stuff like this to my husband and I all the time. We had no clue and just laughed it off and shrugged, like, we’ll worry about it when we get there.

    But best of luck to y’all and help each other keep strong and vow to stick together through everything, whether y’all decide to get married or not 🙂

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      I totally agree, Yve. When I say I don't think marriage changes a relationship, I recognize that we've got nothing on a couples that have been together for 10, 20, 30 years. I believe, as you said, that "long-term commitments change things" – I think if a couple has been together for decades, it doesn't matter whether they're married or not; just as I believe that people who have been married for 4 years aren't necessarily more committed to one another than people who have been in a serious relationship for the same amount time.

      I do disagree about the fun, though. I plan to keep having that no matter what life throws at me :).

  7. Kathleen @ OFA April 10, 2013

    Hey Jessica! I love your post!

    I will have to agree with you…I don't think marriage changes things or would really change a lot for you guys (based on how you describe your relationship and personally understanding what it takes to travel full-time with your other half 😉 ). It sure didn't change anything for us. Marriage might change things for different couples, though. It might be the first time they share money or live together or not see themselves in a committed relationship until it is legally binding, and those are huge steps in a relationship for some people…so when they make that comment to you they really mean it cause that's what their experience was. I will definitely say that the only thing that changed for us was how people respond to us. And surprisingly, the majority of the different treatment was at home in the States, not abroad.

    Also, as far as I'm concerned there is no way for anyone to be able to understand what traveling, working, living and being each others only and everything all at once while living on on the road full-time is like until they do it permanently themselves. It isn't all fun and games, it takes a lot of work to make a relationship last…no matter where it is. 😉

    You guys rock! I really like your mission because it IS ''pure insanity not to do exactly what we want with our lives"!!
    My recent post Is YOUR life your Favorite Adventure?

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      Thanks, Kathleen! And thanks for saying we rock! I'm going to assume that you rock as well for having recognized how awesome we are ;).

      It's interesting that you feel like your were treated differently after marriage. I used to have the impression that enough people were doing the common law thing lately that marriage wasn't a big deal anymore. I'm increasingly realizing that I was wrong – it really is a big deal to a lot of people. I definitely has been in Japan – people have been very clear about the difference between boyfriend and husband, and they're often very surprised to learn that we're living/working/traveling together as an unmarried couple.

      It's true, though – many people can rightly say that I don't fully understand marriage, but I also don't think those couples (married or not) can really understand the challenges we've faced thorough long-term traveling life together.

  8. midlifewanderlust1965 April 10, 2013

    It is difficult to say from personal experience as I have never been married. However, from what I have witnessed in other I would say it does change things. I have witnessed solid couples who after years of being together, get married and then it the relationship falls apart. As the saying goes "if it ain't broken, don't fix it."
    My recent post Naschmarkt, Vienna

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      That's interesting, Steve! I wonder if it goes back to what Vanessa mentioned about a couples' sense of what marriage means. Maybe things work as a long-term relationship, but then they have certain expectations for how marriage will be different that don't end up being met.

  9. Hannah April 10, 2013

    I think marriage changed nothing for us. We met in Jan 2006 and moved into together Aug 2006 and bought a house Sept 2008, engaged Sept 2010, and FINALLY married Feb 2012….nothing changed. If you have traveled together like you have, NOTHING will change! Your money is already joint, your totally fine! We too were together forever before even engaged. Everyone was always asking us too, when are you getting married. And for us to timing wasnt right, we wanted to buy a house and then we wanted to do the kitchen…and then finally we decided it was time!
    My recent post “Infectious case of pupusaria in Belize”

    • waysofwanderers April 11, 2013

      I love it! I think for every married couple who tells us that marriage makes things different, there's another one like you guys saying "well yeah, but you're basically married anyway".

  10. Steph (@20YH) April 11, 2013

    Ew, it sounds like you know or have met a lot of couples that Bridget Jones referred to as "smug marrieds". They are the worst, and Tony & I always try really hard not to be one of those people. Yes, it's great having a partner and being in a couple, but this is true for anyone in a long-term committed relationship, not just people who are legally bound to one another.

    Tony & I got married two years into our relationship, but by that point we had been living together for a loooong time. And so I do not exaggerate when I say that marriage literally changed nothing for us on an interpersonal level. I mean, it gave us the impetus to take the plunge and finally merge our bank accounts, but it was a far bigger adjustment when we first moved in together than it was when we got married. Mostly it was just weird to start referring to someone as my husband. The bank account thing was a relief as we no longer had to remember who had last paid for groceries or when we had gone out for dinner, etc.,

    So, I can only think that the people you have met who have said these things about marriage are people who weren't already living together when they got hitched. Or they have unnecessarily imbued marriage with all these expectations and meanings (read: baggage) that will likely just come back to bite them down the line. Call me crazy, but talking about marriage as this thing that makes it harder for you to walk away from your relationship? That sounds TERRIBLE. My only other guess is that some people think that getting married means that you are officially getting ready to start a family… if that's the case, then yes, getting married definitely marks a new stage in your life.

    I'd say get married if you want to or whenever it becomes important to you. But don't get married because you think it will change your relationship. That is crazy talk. That is like the people who have a kid when their relationship is rocky because they think it will fix it, or who go on The Amazing Race, because everyone knows putting yourself under insane amounts of stress for long stretches only makes relationships healthier, right? 😉
    My recent post How Diving Changed the Way I See the World

    • waysofwanderers April 12, 2013

      Haha – the Bridget Jones reference didn't occur to me, but it's very fitting.

      And I agree, when people talk about marriage as the thing that makes it difficult to leave the relationship, it can sometimes come across as kind of foreboding: The positive spin is that maybe some people just need marriage in order to demonstrate that deep sense of commitment to one another. On the negative end, it can sound a bit like being trapped into staying no matter what happens, or that marriage is the only thing that makes the couple feel secure in the relationship – neither of which seem all that healthy.

      And definitely – whether or not marriage really does affect the relationship, expecting marriage (or anything else external) to improve something that isn't working is so not a good idea.

  11. ferretingoutthefun April 11, 2013

    I've been married for almost three years and I have to admit that I agree with you: Marriage doesn't change things all that much. My husband and I dated for four years before we got engaged, living together for two of those years. Besides having the official documentation, being married doesn't feel all that different. We still have separate bank accounts, we still spend time with our friends, we still split holidays between our families. Maybe if people rush into tying the knot, they don't get to that point beforehand. But for us, the marriage ceremony was just a formality – and a great opportunity to party with all our friends!
    My recent post Shanghai’s Modern Art Scene on Moganshan Lu

    • waysofwanderers April 12, 2013

      That's awesome – it sounds like you two are so much less co-dependent than we are after all the traveling together. It's really cool that you and the other commenters have been offering insights into your own relationships – it's honesty really fascinating for me to learn a little about how other couples work.

      And I totally agree about the party! Whenever we talk about marriage, we mostly talk about the wedding – because all the stuff afterwards will pretty much be the same as life now.

  12. agnesstramp April 11, 2013

    My opinion is that if you have been together for, as you said, over 4 years, you got really closed while travelling, shared tears, happiness and anger together, nothing will change when you get married. Marriage is only a piece of paper. What really matters is your love and your commitment. You had enough time to get to know each other and travelling together is a challenge and struggle for most of the couples. As long as you enjoy travels together and you share the same passion, marriage will not change anything. I have never been engaged or married, but couldn't imagine myself getting married to someone I have not travelled with. If he's a good travel companion, he will be a good husband :). P.S. You look blissfully happy together. Keep it up!

    • waysofwanderers April 12, 2013

      Thanks, Agness! "If he's a good travel companion, he will be a good husband" – I think there's some serious wisdom in that!

  13. Julika April 12, 2013

    I can relate to this so much Jess! Steffen and I have been together for almost six years now, and I've heard the question "Don't you want to get married already?" more times than I can count. But I don't think marriage changes anything — except cheaper taxes and maybe your last name. As a couple you get to know each other through rough patches, challenges, and time — no matter if there's a piece of paper saying you're married or not. Great post!

    • waysofwanderers April 13, 2013

      I'm glad to hear that we're not the only long-term couple that gets asked about marriage constantly, Julika!

  14. TammyOnTheMove April 13, 2013

    I don't think much changes after you are married. Chris and I have been married for 7 years now and before that we were dating for 4 years. Our feelings haven't changed, we had a joint bank account long before we got married and we had a mortgage before we married as well. The only thing that is different are legal rights.
    My recent post Flashback Friday: The time a shaman spat in my face

    • waysofwanderers April 14, 2013

      Definitely! I think combined finances and shared debts are key – if all that stuff doesn't happen until marriage, it's a big factor in what makes post-wedding life different.

  15. zzella April 14, 2013

    Getting married affords you some practical benefits (taxes, being treated as a next of kin instead of some random girlfriend etc) but pretty sure it won't teach you anything you don't already know about your relationship after so much time on the road.
    Also trying to plan a wedding while travelling is pretty challenging.. as I'm finding out now!!
    My recent post Seeing the Light – Aurora Hunting in Iceland

    • waysofwanderers April 14, 2013

      I bet it is! That's definitely part of the reason why marriage hasn't really been our focus over the past few years – I can't imagine trying to plan a wedding and plan travel at the same time. I'm sure it's doable, but definitely more complicated than at home.

  16. Suzy April 15, 2013

    As I'll be getting married in a few months, I hear that line a lot that marriage will change everything. We have both traveled extensively together so I do think that we have already been through a lot of the tests of marriage before couples who haven't traveled together. You learn so much about a person in different cultures and scenarios.
    My recent post Suzy Stumbles Over Travel: Week of April 8, 2013

    • waysofwanderers April 16, 2013

      Agreed – I think that the experiences you have (or haven't) had together in the pre-marriage part of the relationship plays a big role in whether or not marriage changes things.

  17. Colleen Brynn April 15, 2013

    No… you've got it right…
    Too many people forget that a marriage is about the relationship, not the wedding. The relationship shouldn't change I don't think.
    My brother was with his girlfriend for 7 years before they got married, and I asked him recently how things have changed and he just answered simple, "It's the exact same."
    Thank you for your honesty.
    My recent post The Story Of The Russian Visa

    • waysofwanderers April 16, 2013

      So true! I've seen many couples get caught up in the romance of a proposal/wedding, and forget in some ways about the relationship itself.

  18. Amy R May 27, 2013

    I'm married, but it really irritates when people assume that marriage is any more of a commitment that unmarried people make to each other when they say they want to love each other forever. We married a year ago (have been together 4.5) and people certainly treat me differently now I'm a wife, but it baffles me because I'm the same person I was before. I love being married, and our tiny wedding last June was an amazing day to share together, but it hasn't changed who we are or the lvel of commitment we have to one another.
    My recent post The Visa Has Landed

    • waysofwanderers May 28, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Amy! It's interesting that you mentioned the size of your wedding – I wonder if that makes a difference in how some couples feel afterwards? I can imagine that a small wedding might make the whole thing seem pretty minor, but maybe a big elaborate wedding makes the change feel more significant for some couples.

  19. @thismyhappiness July 15, 2013

    Hmm. Interesting post…I think you have to do what feels right to you and without the pressure of societal labels. In my experience, my relationship did change after marriage, but that was partly because we were together 2 years before marriage and now 12 years since getting married. The one thing I would tell anyone that I truly believe from life experience is that having children is SO totally worth it. But getting married? I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. If you feel like doing it, go for it. It might add an extra dimension to your relationship after you've been together for a while. If you don't feel like it, that's OK too. (P.S. I also think the pressures of having a certain type of wedding should be thrown out the window, too. We got married in the courthouse. Great decision…no pressure, no money spent! 🙂

    • waysofwanderers July 17, 2013

      Agreed! I think that the decision of whether or not to have children is a far more significant one for any couple than whether or not to get married.

  20. lindsay August 11, 2013

    Love this post! My relationship with my husband has definitely changed over the years, but I don't think it has anything to do with being married versus dating. I think it was more a function of personal development, growth and evolution. We are definitely not the same care-free college sweethearts, obsessed with one another, unable to be apart for a moment. Our first long-term traveling experience together did come after we were married (which was over 10 years after we met). Looking back, it was amazing, but if I think clearly- I can remember the disagreements and irritability. I definitely think relationships go through natural changes, but I don't think that necessarily has anything to do with a paper you sign that legally bounds you to one another (although I do agree with your comment that it is legally more challenging to separate- but I think that's a good thing, because if you are going to make that statement of commitment, I guess it shouldn't be quite so easy to slip out of). I also buy in to the hollywood thinking that having kids with someone is more of a significant commitment than getting married…. Either way, my personal answer would be "no"- marriage did not change our relationship. Lots of other life experiences did though! (i.e. new jobs, lost jobs, moving cities, death in family, buying a home- all of those life-changing things that happen in relationships).

    • waysofwanderers August 16, 2013

      Well said, Lindsay. I think a lot of couples who marry young feel like marriage changed their relationship, when in fact, it was just the years of being together that did.

  21. Maddie August 11, 2013

    After 7 years together and living together for 6 my now husband and I actually tied the knot whilst we've been on the road travelling. I have to say that it has changed absolutely nothing about our relationship! After spending so long with someone I don't think there can be many things you haven't faced together. It was far more scary and life changing buying a house together and when you travel with a partner 24 hours a day I don't think you can get much more committed than that.

    • waysofwanderers August 16, 2013

      Agreed! I think whether or not marriage changes the relationship depends a lot on what you've been through in the relationship before the marriage. If you've already faced a number of challenges together, then not much is going to change after marriage.

  22. foreignsanctuary August 11, 2013

    I have been with my husband for 12 years (8 of those married) and I feel our relationship hasn't change since marriage but it has gotten even stronger. We face new challenges in life together and we are there for each other no matter what. However, many of my friends say that we are an exception to the rule though. 4 of my good friends got married the same year as me and their four marriages have already ended in divorce.
    My recent post Marching to the Beat: 3 Spots to See the Changing of the Guards in Taipei

    • waysofwanderers August 16, 2013

      Interesting thoughts. I often wonder why people feel like their relationship is so much more secure after marriage – you're never truly locked in because divorce is always an option just like a regular break-up is with an unmarried couple.

  23. Rhea October 20, 2013

    I just wanted to chime in… I love being married, but I wouldn't say marriage actually changed anything for us (aside from visa/citizenship issues). I think it's really more about individual perspective. As a general comment, I think marriage may change things for the worse if the two people in a relationship have differing views on it (particularly if one person really wants it and the other does not) or if they expect it to magically fix problems/make everything amazing.

    • waysofwanderers October 21, 2013

      Thanks for weighing in! I agree – there are definitely some couples who get married because of pressure from one person in the relationship, or just general social pressure. I think it rarely improves the relationship in those cases. It definitely has to be something that both partners enter into wholeheartedly.

  24. mrandmrsadventure March 27, 2014

    I absolutely love this article! My boyfriend and I aren't married we've been living together for almost 3 years and we are planning for our great escape to travel the world for an indefinite amount of time! We both feel the pressure to get married before we leave, but how does that make sense when we're saving every penny so we can adventure together right? We still don't know what the answer will be, but I so appreciate your thoughts. Here's a post I wrote that I think you'd enjoy: http://mrandmrsadventure.com/2014/03/11/how-are-y

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