The honeymoon was over, and the two whole weeks since we had been married felt like a vacation. Every grown-up thing we needed to worry about was negated with one simple mantra: After the honeymoon. Changing my name? Installing new cabinets? Starting on thank you notes? We can wait to think about all of that until after the honeymoon.
Well, now that the honeymoon was over, I had assumed that grown-up mode would kick in instantaneously. Instead, I reverted to the typical mindset I had when we had been dating long-distance for four out of our total of seven years together. I turned to Mike and said, “So when’s the next time we’ll see each other?”
He looked at me like I had lost my marbles. Because we’re now living together. Forever. And we’re hardly ever not going to be seeing each other.
That transition between dating and marriage has been longer than I thought it would be. I keep saying things like, “Last night we ran home to get some things—sorry, we ran to mom and dad’s to get some things. Old habits.” Or I keep looking up at my new husband doing the dishes in our kitchen, and I think, You’re seriously still here?
I feel like I’m playing house. I have this steady stream of commentary for everyday activities. It’s dinnertime. There’s no food on the stove Oh, that’s right because I have to make it. How fun and cute! I’m actually going to cook dinner in my own kitchen! Maybe I’ll wear my apron and everything. It’s like it’s actually real life!
With marriage has come the inevitable marriage-y questions, which—don’t get me wrong—are fun to answer because it means I get to talk about myself. But I do feel like my answers are underwhelming.
“Have you learned any strange things you never knew about Mike?” my older sister asks.
“Not much,” I say, “Although I did learn that he refuses to use anything but fabric Band-Aids.”
“Have you had your first big fight yet?” asks my uncle.
“No,” Mike replies. “But we’ve never really fought a ton. We argue or have disagreements, but it’s not like we scream at each other.” On my part, I didn’t foresee any throwing of pots and pans, but, then again, student loans haven’t been taken out yet, so I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen the real, stressful, ugly side of marriage yet.
And speaking of the real side of marriage, the most common question people ask us is Does it feel weird to be married?
To be honest, I’m not sure. It still feels like a vacation. I had been on summer vacation since my first year of teaching ended, so everything—and I mean everything—had been wedding mode for three solid weeks. The wedding day, opening presents, setting up your apartment, going on your honeymoon: it all felt like we had stepped out of real life into this alternate reality where you are the center of everyone’s attention and you’re constantly happy.
The first time I really felt married was the Monday after the 4th of July, when real life seemed to kick in. I was starting summer school that morning. I woke up late and didn’t have time for breakfast. Mike and I had to coordinate cars. In addition, Professor Vande Kopple’s funeral was that afternoon, and I was very much on edge. I called Mike after work to ask him to make me a peanut butter sandwich that I could swing by to pick up on the way to the funeral. I asked him what he had done that morning. “Well, I practiced bass a bit and figured out some stuff for our insurance, but I haven’t exactly put on pants yet.”
Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you.
A born-and-and-raised Grand Rapidian, Sarah (’12) is now a seventh grade language arts teacher in the Seattle area. She has been living there since the summer of 2015 with her music teacher husband, Mike. She loves reading, watching Netflix, playing games, watercolor, and walking at the off-leash dog park (even though she does not have a dog).