The First 100 Days of Marriage: A User's Manual
Marriage vs. Live-In
So, you shared your digs before that walk down the aisle? Good for you -- but don't be fooled into thinking that you've got an edge over other newlyweds who didn't shack up. This may sound like your mother talking, but that "little piece of paper" does make a difference in the relationship. You may not have to adjust to each other's physical presence on an around-the-clock basis, but you do have to adjust to the idea of long-term commitment as opposed to the open-ended convenience of "just living together," says Rosenberg.
A marriage is in many respects a public event -- you get a legal OK with a license; you often get a religious blessing; and your friends and family (or even the Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas) are witnesses. Once you are publicly "sanctioned" as a couple, it just feels weightier, more important, somehow.
"Donald and I lived together before we got married," says Anne, 36, a fitness trainer in New York City. "I figured it might feel different to be husband and wife, but I was not necessarily prepared for how different it was -- in a positive way. Living together was one level of commitment. But after we were married, I felt the commitment deepen. It was like how you feel when you've been standing up for a long time and you finally get to settle down into a comfortable chair. Ahhh..."
Other newlyweds experience the sea change of living together after marriage -- and get a little seasick: "We had just graduated from college and moved from Texas to North Carolina when we got married. We were thrown into it all at once," says Rachel, 23, a newspaper reporter. "Even though I was expecting it all to happen, it was harder than I thought it would be. I found myself crying every day." For Rachel and her husband, the period of adjustment was rocky, but once they realized that their uncomfortable feelings were mostly due to moving and changing jobs at the same time, they were better able to weather the change and settle quite cozily into their new roles as husband and wife.