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What does marriage really change?

So. This one’s going to be controversial at home.

My gut response to that question is – nothing. There, I said it! But it’s the valid knee-jerk reaction to such a question. I met my wife nearly thirteen years ago, started dating her about eleven years ago, and we lived under the same roof for at least three years before our eventual nuptials.

So ironically, our married life represents less than a fifth of our cumulative acquaintance. People have had shorter allegiances to football clubs than my relationship with my wife!

In a manner of speaking, both of us grew up together as adults. I can’t even claim to have shared half those years with a consistent friend in such close quarters. Such is our relationship. So, it’s no surprise that this question pops into my head now and then, whenever I am reminded of the fact that I AM married!

Why do I need reminders of my marriage? Because there are only so many times when I can introduce my wife as my girlfriend!

So yes, retreating to the burning question – what did marriage really change for me, or rather, us?

Let’s break it down.

The basics

My wife still uses her maiden name and surname, I still use my maiden name, as I should, based on the strong patriarchal values of our society.

– – cough – –

Sidebar – what do girls actually feel about changing their last names post marriage?Also, what happens when a girl by the name of Kiran Mehta marries a guy called Ketan Mehta? Does she have to notify authorities that she is changing her old Mehta to a new Mehta… although they are literally the SAME Mehta? Does she know deep down in her heart, that she has actually changed her last name to her husband’s Mehta, even though on paper she may appear to be the same Mehta? Tough life man.

Anyway, our identification remains the same, as do our passports. We file independent taxes, hold separate income streams, manage separate bank accounts, and believe it or not, holster separate credit cards as well!

Well, if I’m honest, my wife does not have a credit card yet. She insists that one over-enthusiastic trigger finger is sufficient in a family.

Also, my wife is a ‘Marwari’ – a Hindu class known for business acumen honed over generations and frugality that has no allowances for financial products like credit cards and high-interest loans. No sir!

So far, it’s all the same.

But one thing has changed. The concept of revenue itself has now become a collective. I understand that no marriage document inherently instructs couples on this, but in India, it is a given. The income streams merge to form a bigger wallet, and the couple begins to act like a mini-startup.

Of course, you’d think you are the CEO, thanks to all that patriarchal goodness, but no! You are only a passive shareholder in this venture. In fact, more often than not, the wife, especially if she is Indian, is the CEO, CFO, COO, CPO, all rolled into one!

The CTO post is usually up for grabs until the time your kids grow up of course! Post that, you are only the honorary board member of a legacy company.

But the collective revenue outlook is only logical. You have a bigger war chest to play the game of life with. There are enough funds for exigencies and more than enough to collectively plan for retirement. What are the downsides? None really!

My CFO is super lenient, but yours may not be. So please read the offer document before investing!

The identity

Hmm, this one’s a doozy. I always thought that my friends were impervious to the after-effects of married life. But, guess I was wrong. Ever since we got married, my wife and I have stopped existing as individuals in our social circles!

Of course, there is still that tiny circle of office colleagues where we still hold individual identities, but EVERYWHERE else, we are a packaged deal, a buy-1-get-1 offer! There have been cases where my wife has even received a cursory salutation on MY birthday! Seriously? This cultural misconception needs to be resolved!

Which is why, starting this year, my wife and I have decided to attend at least five events in a calendar year, ALONE. It does not matter if it’s just drinking with friends, or a weekend trip, or a month-long expedition to the Himalayas. We are doing this.

P.S. We didn’t actually decide this. Feels good to say out loud though. Dear wife, if you are reading – there is no month-long expedition planned… for now. Cheers!

But while we’ve lost our individuality to an extent, I don’t mind it. I LIKE our combined identity. Makes me feel whole in an over-the-top cheesy way. Because my wife does make up for my flaws, and I do counter-balance her awesomeness.

Good save!

The routine

Yeah, first off, I am proud to announce that I at least HAVE a routine apart from my work. That is a huge achievement for someone under the age of thirty. For most people, the routine until thirty is binary. Work, and then do a bunch of other stuff. The other stuff is sometimes sleeping, sometimes eating, sometimes having a bath. You get the drift! So yeah, I do have a routine.

To be honest, marriage had nothing to do with it. Don’t misunderstand me. My wife has had a LOT to do with it, but it started way before marriage. Our walks together, the morning tea routine, the cooking chores, the evening debriefs, dinner-time TV, post-dinner gaming, late-night binging was all a part and parcel of our lives years before we tied the knot.

But the marriage did change one thing. The eventual prospect of starting a family did encourage our routine to evolve. The switch was sudden, but the adoption was gradual, and so it transformed. Late-night binging turned to morning exercise, evening debriefs with wine turned into evening debriefs while walking. Even the morning tea routine was replaced with a healthier bowl of muesli and goop! I was livid, but not disappointed with the results! More than a few kilos and a couple of inches in four months? Not bad, eh?

Even if you’ve heard better, zip it! The post-COVID world does not need your negativity.

The miscellaneous

I could make as many headers as my imagination would allow because it is my post after all. But apart from the three major ones above, honestly, nothing has changed as much in my post married life.

True, that there’s the one additional anniversary to remember, increased talk of babies all around us, social commitments that have gone up through the roof, and a new web of relations that I cannot even begin to comprehend. But these are insignificant, and easily avoided.

Not the anniversary! You cannot avoid it. I may be an amateur at marriage, but enough jokes on married life have been cracked around me to cement that one commandment into my head. NEVER forget your anniversary – it can be miserable, but it does need to be memorable.

So yeah, in closing, my point is this.

For all my claims that marriage did not change my life, it most certainly did. But it didn’t as much change me as it created a new ‘us’. A collective ‘us’ that is definitely stronger and more resilient than the individual ‘us’.

So yes, it does seem wonderful from where I stand, but it’s only been two years. Who knows? Thanks to the person I chose to enter this drama with, this may not be my last say on the topic, and obviously, for nothing but better…

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