On “getting wifed” after getting married

Guest post by Divamezzo

If you’ve read Offbeat Bride the book, you’ll remember the final chapter is called “Getting Wifed,” aka dealing with people’s expectations about how your life will change after the wedding…

Don'ts for Wives

I’ve noticed something a month after getting married… I feel like I’ve totally been “getting wifed” recently, and not-so-much by strangers or friends, but by my family, who really should know me better. One of my sisters has asked me a few times “how’s married life,” even though she knows I lived with my husband before we were married, and nothing much has changed. Still, in that case, I know she’s just making conversation, and that part is really not bad.

The assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, is baffling.

My dad, however, has been saying all kinds of weird stuff to me lately. He felt the need to spend most of his speech at my wedding talking about having babies, which at the time, I really didn’t mind that much, plus the whole room had a good laugh at his speech and my reaction. But recently he made a comment that he was glad I was married and “settled down.” I answered that I was married, but not-so-much settled down. There’s something about the phrase “settled down” that makes me want to pull my hair out.

I also remarked that my husband and I are really not sure if or when we will ever have kids, as we have no desire to do so anytime soon. My dad went on to say he hoped I did, and implied that if I didn’t have kids and do everything I could for them, I wasn’t repaying my parents for everything they did for me.

But the big “wifing” stuff came out, when he was making a check out to me, asking which name to use. I told him to use my maiden name/his name and said “You’re not changing your name?” “Nope!” “How does David feel about that?” “He doesn’t care at all.”

What bothered me about that conversation is that the notion that a woman “should” change her name is still prevalent, and whenever a woman doesn’t, or a family has a naming-arrangement (for lack of a better term) that isn’t the traditional woman-and-kid-takes-husband’s-name, people assume there must be some controversy around it.

Then, when I was talking about some of my long-term opera singing/professional goals and traveling abroad for auditions, my dad felt the need to ask, “Well, how does David feel about that?” I answered that he was supportive and it was something we discussed at length. David was given ample warning ahead of time of the realities of sharing your life with a professional singer. Neither one of us is wild about being apart for likely a month or more at a time, but it’s what my career requires, and he wants me to have a career.

When I talked to my sister about my hopes to travel to Germany for singing in the near future, she remarked, “but do you really want to do that your first year of marriage?” Whether I want to be away from my husband or not is beside the point: of course I don’t want to be away from him, but do I want to follow my dreams? Yes, and he wants that for me as well.

I’ve gotten variations on this “but you’re a wife now!” theme from a few people. The assumption people seem to make that I haven’t discussed these things with the person I’m arguably closest to and will be sharing my life with is baffling. As is what feels like the assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, etc.

Without passing judgement on anyone else’s life, (because I don’t think that people who work in a more “stable” profession, have babies, or buy a house all have the same, traditional life) it seems so odd to me that, in this day and age, the fact that there are so many different ways to be married, to make a living, or to live your life, is news to so many people.

Comments on On “getting wifed” after getting married

  1. I really like this. As a husband, I actually really empathise (not with the ‘wifing’ thing, but with the idea that once you are married, you are expected to… change?)

    My fiancee and I were engaged for nearly 4 years, and had been dating for a total of 8 when we got married. For us, the marriage was more of a public display of the commitment we felt to each other. We agreed that this changed nothing between us whatsoever.

    The wedding was lovely, and the reception was fantastic, but married life? Exactly the same as un-married life. Why should anything have to change?

  2. After I got married my MIL said, “Well, you’ll be sewing now.” I was dumbfounded! In fact, I had no answer.

  3. I agree there is an unfair double standard, but I think too that its a matter of who wants to know. My parents ask me “what does he think of that” questions all the time, but they never ask him what i think of things because they already know what I think. Same for his family (but the vice versa)

    My favorite response to the AWFUL when are you having children question is “we already have kids, a vintage car (his) and a cat (mine)” 🙂

    Can you believe once a coworker found out we had not intention of procreating and followed up with “Why are you even getting married then” I was appallled!

  4. Just a few hours after our wedding, we were bombarded with so many questions and suggestions for how quickly we should have babies that my husband cried for almost an hour because he was so overwhelmed (the alcohol surely didn’t help). And lately, I’ve been getting a lot of “oh, your husband lets you drive a lot?” Well… it’s my car, so yeah, I’m typically “allowed” to drive it.

    My favorite comment that I’ve gotten though was “now that you’re married, I feel more secure because you’re so much safer now!” First of all, why was I less safe before we were married? We were living together. Second, HUH?

  5. I’m not even married yet, we are engaged and planning a wedding and I have had some pretty offensive questions/accusations. On getting my half sleeve tattoo, a colleague immediately asked “what does HE think about it? Did you get his permission? You must of thought about him first, he’s the one who has to be seen with you in restaurants.” I was gobsmacked! This came from a married female co worker and I honestly didn’t know what to say. Of course I discussed it with him first, but it was more of a “this is what i’m getting, any objections?” The fact that she thought he might not want to be seen in public with me was so upsetting, I already have a lot of tattoos (he doesn’t have any) and its part of my life…. He has chosen to spend it with me so why ask questions like that?
    Another male colleague, after I told him that I was doing Diy all weekend came out with this ” well good you should, I’m guessing your boyfriend bought your house for you didn’t he? I bet you’re not cooking either, take out for you, all young ‘uns are the same”. If I got technical about it, I put more into the buying of our house financially, and my dad was a chef, and taught me how cook, so not only were these comments offensive, they were completely wrong. I have not had many people talk to me like this until I became engaged and bought a house, which was this year, and I’m struggling with how to react to these stupid comments. Its like all of a sudden you become a target for the most outdated, sexist comments and people think its ok to talk to you like that. I love the responses I read in some of the comments to these stupid questions, I’m afraid I’m not that quick!

  6. I am a theatre designer with much the same lifestyle and struggles as OP. I was passed up for a gig in my first year of marriage because, “What with your getting married I didn’t think you were interested.”
    This bullshit needs to STOP.

  7. I know this is an older post but I love this so much. I got a job in a new city before my fiancee and I got engaged. In fact, we’d only been dating for five months but there was never any question about the fact that he’d move with me. We did long-distance for a few months until his lease was up — because that made the most sense, and it gave him time to job hunt, etc — and then we lived together for about a year before we got engaged. Our relationship hasn’t changed since the first ring and I don’t anticipate it changing much after the second ring.

    But then I found a posting for a job back in my hometown that would have been perfect for me. It was more in line with what I wanted to be doing with my life and the lower cost of living would have helped me save more money. I also miss home a lot. If it weren’t for my fella, I’d have gone for it. But I knew I couldn’t ask him to move again so soon after he had just packed up and done it for me once. I mentioned this to a male coworker of mine who knew our entire history and his response was, “Well these are the kinds of things you have to think about now that you’re engaged.” I was completely taken aback as these were exactly the kinds of things we talked about before we ever got engaged. We were totally committed to spending our lives together before there ever was a ring or talk of signing paperwork to make it official, and it seems weird that other people expect us to behave differently now.

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