The Pros & Cons Of A Millennial Marriage
“Don’t get married” is often the advice given from married couples to unmarried couples.
This has become the expected answer coming from both young and old hitched people, surfacing especially at social events like weddings (irony, much?) where the booze is flowing and the conversations are resting on romance.
And it got me thinking…Why is it funny to say (or pretend) marriage is miserable? It definitely isn’t funny to actually be miserable, so why do people give an eye roll and make a comment like, “Whatever makes the Mrs. happy,” upon being asked how married life is?
Because misery loves company, as they say. And us humans (maybe us Americans?) run away from vulnerability faster than we run toward Amazon Prime deals.
Marriage is a Mindset
As the self-improvement addict I am, I can turn any phrase into “_____ is a mindset” and have it make sense. I’m currently reading about money and wealth-building where “money is a mindset,” and “wealth is a mindset” phrases are drilled into my brain at the end of each chapter so my mind associates financial abundance with having a positive attitude about it. Now I can acquire money via the high energy I throw into the stratosphere. I love it.
So I figured if anything and everything can be a mindset (getting a good parking spot is a mindset, having great eyebrows is a mindset), I thought marriage can be, too.
So if marriage is a mindset then, it can either be positive or negative, yes? Happy or miserable. Shitty or stable. It can (and will) be whatever your mind says it is.
That said, though…
What constitutes a healthy marriage for one couple doesn’t look the same for the next couple.
For example, one of my married friends does everything with her husband. They attend workout classes together, they travel together, read silently next to one another together, and go on dates together, a lot. Being together more than apart sustains their relationship, resulting in their version of a happy marriage.
While my man friend (I say man friend because husband is too serious) and I could probably — actually, definitely — get some companionship tips from our couples-therapy-going-friends, we would much rather go out to dinner with a group of close friends instead of just of us. That isn’t to say we don’t enjoy each other’s company — maybe we just enjoy our independence more?
Marriage is what you perceive it to be, and what you make it out to be. If you perceive it as a trap, it will feel like a trap. If you view it as an amazing opportunity to live life full of adventures and unique experiences with someone you love hanging out with, that’s what it will become.
Pros & Cons Of A Millennial Marriage
Coming from someone who has been married for less than 1 year (relationship expert over here!), here are the changes my *life partner* and I have made to unionize ourselves.
Joint Bank Account — PRO
Listen, more money, LESS problems. The biggest shift we made after galavanting to the court house was joining our bank accounts. At first, I was very against this, asking questions like, “Why can’t my money be my money and your money be your money?” when Jake explained to me marriage is about trust, and if we are on the same financial page — being upfront and honest about our purchases — EVERY purchase — that means we are winning.
So far, he has been correct.
So far, this has strengthened our relationship because before, when we had separate bank accounts and therefore separate financial lives, I would spend what I wanted to spend when I wanted to spend it (within reason — I’m talking buying lunch or a pair of shoes — not swiping the AmEx for a Range Rover).
However, this behavior of “Yes let’s get sushi again!” did not align with our goal of being *debt free before 30* and suitably needed to change. So, “We lived like no one else in order to live like no one else.” Hi, Dave Ramsey.
Side note: It was actually really easy to only spend out of necessity, and most definitely made me a better person.
So because we have set financial rules and goals for our lives (which came with its own set of growing pains), there is literally never an argument about money. And as long as we keep this financial transparency up, there will never be one. I’ll take harmony in my relationship over a mink coat any day.
Now he calls to ask if he can get $6 tacos for lunch from Whole Foods, and I ask if I can get a pair of $400 sunglasses. It’s usually yes to the tacos and no to the sunglasses, but the point is, we respect each other by asking and we respect each other by coming to an agreement on what we spend our money on — and how much we spend.
The Name Change — PRO and CON
A lot of people have strong opinions about changing their last name. Some can’t wait to take their husband’s last name, some think it’s outdated and sexist, and some think they should take whomever’s name sounds cooler.
I had/have mixed feelings about the name change. I like my name but I also understand having one family name (we have a child and will probably have another one someday) makes sense. Unified us as one, if you will.
But, my name rings nicely. A stranger even commented on my name once: “Wow, that name sounds like a writer name. You can’t change it.”
Nonetheless, it was important to my blushing groom we share the same last name, so I changed it under the conditions my social media handles, email accounts and most importantly the name that will read on my future book covers, will be Ashley Alt. I refer to my married name (Meyer) as my government name. Kristin Cavallari does the same thing.
I have a lot of emotions when life changes happen, so when I made this official (changing my credit cards and social security card) and had to sign this new last name of mine at the bank — you know, when we joined accounts — I crumbled.
“I’M NOT ME ANYMORE IF I DO THIS,” I said quietly but dramatically to Jake.
“We talked about this,” he said. “We are a family together. Meyer Nation.”
“Should I proceed?” The banker asked us with concern. “Yes,” Jake said laughing. “Yes,” I said crying. And we were joined as one.
24/7 Support System — PRO
There’s something magical about being able to share your hopes, dreams and fears with the person you love at any given time.
As you grow individually, your relationship kind of has to grow with the both of you, which can be challenging. But it can also be exhilarating. Having someone there for you when you lose a job, quit a job, find out you’re pregnant, or get into a car accident is comforting.
Restricted Personal Freedom — CON
I don’t care who you are or how supportive your significant other is of your spontaneity. When you’re married, you can’t make impulse decisions like book a flight to Aruba just because you’re feeling like it that day. This is obviously and especially the case for people with offspring like us, but I’m pretty sure couples without kids don’t do radical things on a whim without giving each other an “I’m headed to Italy for the week” heads up text.
Forever Roommate — PRO and CON
I’ve been saying I’m going to write a book titled How to Get Along With Your Roommate When Your Roommate Is Your Spouse for awhile now because it’s both a blessing and a curse. Anyone want to co-write it with me? Could be fun to have diverse perspectives.
As humans, we need our space. While it’s nice having a whenever-you-want-dinner-partner and bedside protector of the night, it’s also nice being alone.
In sum, if I feel like coming home after a long day at work to do nothing but eat popcorn and dark chocolate and watch Gossip Girl — uninterrupted — it’s just not possible. Yet, if I’m feeling particularly vulnerable for whatever reason, it’s nice coming home to someone who I know supports me and keeps me safe.
Compromising on Major Life Decisions — PRO and CON
If you’re used to getting your way in life, i.e. you were spoiled as a child and praised for the majority of your adult life for being pretty and funny, marriage is going to be hard for you. In the beginning at least.
The biggest thing for us was (and still is) where we live. I thought I was going to die when we moved from Chicago to Kentucky. I didn’t. But it was really hard. We’re about to make our 3rd move in four years (that’s 3 different states, mind you) to somewhere on the East Coast, and while it is very exciting, (hello fresh seafood, NYC, and adorable bookstores) it is also scary.
As I like to quote Sandra Bullock from the movie, Hope Floats, “Beginnings are scary and endings are sad, but it’s the middle that counts,” she not only makes every move easier but it’s really a great life motto to live by. You’re welcome.
Meeting in the middle is difficult if one of you is a city girl and the other is a country boy, but you make it work if you want to make your marriage work.
After creating this pros/cons list, I think I’ve realized it’s who you are married to that makes the marriage great or average or sucky, not the constitution of marriage itself.
Should that have been obvious?
Whether you are on the brink of saying “I do” or you are trying to get back on track with your marital partner, my advice is to be painfully honest with the other person about literally anything and everything.
Does the salsa he’s been buying at the grocery store piss you off because it isn’t fresh? Tell him. Otherwise he’s just going to keep buying it.
Thanks for reading!