Matt and I tied the knot on March 26, 2017. For the past several months, I couldn’t be happier about the fact that I married the man I deeply love and cherish. And it has been a very sweet 3.5 months for me as the newly wed.
In the same time, it has been quite an adjustment for me, to be honest. Most of the fundamental changes have been psychological, and some are about the lifestyle.
A little background here: Before April 2017, Matt worked for his family’s chemical engineering company for 4 years. So for the 3.5 years we had been dating, he was not too busy at work. I got use to he taking care of me all the time. This March, he got accepted into a surgical residency program 2 days before our wedding, and the program director allowed him to start working in the hospital in April so that he can better prepare himself for the residency. He officially became a surgical resident last month in June. But since April, he would be gone the time I wake up, and come home almost straightly to the bed.
I am extremely happy about and proud of his achievement, for sure. However, it has been a rough adjustment for both of us, for his new job, and for our new marriage. I thought long period of dating and cohabitation before getting married would prepare us well for marriage, yet it seems we still couldn’t avoid having a little bitter sweetness.
I talk to my girl friends and everyone has a different story about how they adjusted into the wife role. It is just like the old Chinese saying “家家有本难念的经”, which means each family has its own hard nut to crack. Well here are my (our) nuts so far.
1. From being “ME” to being “US”.
This one means lots of things. What I talk about here is the fact that we need to consider each other in every decision we make now. People say the wedding symbols two becoming one, now I understand it quite literally. What would we eat for dinner tonight? Where should we go for the upcoming vacation? What insurance policy should we take? Should we go shopping at Costco this weekend? Did we greet both sides of parents on holidays? In all these questions, “we” uses to be “I”.
It might sound like a easy switch, but it has been daunting for me. Through my 20 years of education and 5 years of working experience, I never really learned how to take another person as your new “half” – it is so difficult to make the choices that both of us would be happy with. It takes incredible knowledge and understanding of your spouse. And also you need to predict how you and your spouse will react in the the future circumstances. I am not even sure if I know myself, and if he know himself that well.
Why it is so important to make the right choices all the time? Because there are 2 people involved – now each one of us has another person to blame on. If you make a bad choice for yourself, you most likely will go easy on it. But a bad choice for the household? Consequences of accusing and mocking would follow, no matter how “kind” or “harmless” they seems to be.
Then why not make decisions together on everything, if possible? Well, that opens another can of worms. What if we won’t be able to agree with each other? What if someone has to compromise and suffer the pain? What if one or both of us has to be in pain of compromising forever and ever until the death separate us?
These thoughts simply horrify me.
2. The fights about chores
The good thing about “we/us” is that, you have an extra person to deal with all the troubles. But given my husbands 5am-8pm schedule, I actually end up dealing most of the things by myself for the past several months. I need to shop and cook double amount of food, clean the mess after another person, and take care of most of the household matters.
This new burden gives me a really bad mood sometimes. I start to become angry about small things. In addition, as my husband was adjusting to the busy schedule himself, his mood started to swing. Lots of small arguments appeared. One weekend in early June, After spending 5 hours on chores by myself on both Saturday and Sunday, I finally snapped. I remember I yelled at him on top of my lung that “MY TIME VALUES TOO!!” and “I AM NOT YOUR MAID”. I knew that although my points were all valid, but given my furiousness, they were not delivered in the most decent way. But I just needed to vent, after hiding my feelings for a while.
The day after, I made a excel spreed sheet to tally all the chores and the time they each take. The total chore time on weekday evening is 90 minutes, and on weekend day is 3 hours. I sat down with him to discuss how we can collaboratively and fairly tackle the chores – to keep our lovely apartment pleasant to live and our life in order. After a short discussion, he decided that he will assume 2 daily tasks – cleaning after dinner and taking out trash – and outsource the majority of weekend tasks.
I still need to do 70 mins of daily chores (mainly cooking the dinner and cleaning the apartment) and 2 hours of weekend chores, but having him thoroughly understood the whole picture and agreed to chip in makes me feel much better.
3. Who is the head of the household?
I had been the head of my own household for the past 12 years, there was no question about that. At age 18 I left my parent’s house in China to attend college in Hong Kong, and at age 22 I came to US for post graduate education and became a Registered Dietitian. I set my roots here in Boston all by myself, by owning my apartment, 2 pets and many pots of plants. I was the queen of my own world for quite a while.
Now I have a husband, he wants to take care of me. He will be the absolute major bread earner in a few years, he is the primary of our joint bank account, and he can veto the decision I have already made.
There was a period of time I became mildly self-loathing, as deep down I feel like I betrayed the independent and strong woman I spent my whole life to become. And being married to the man of my dream is just the sugar coating of a poison that kills my own identity.
4. All my “ME” time.
I am a hopeless introvert. I thrive on being alone, think about things, and write my diary/journal/blog. That is how I relax and recharge.
After being married, there is a voice constantly talks at the back of my head that, I need to take our family as my priority and spend more quality time with my husband. Given his super time schedule, I start to plan my leisure time around him unconsciously. Even when I am out with my friends, I worry about if he has food at home and if he needs me to keep him company.
Strangely, I started to feel alone when I am with my husband. I miss the company of myself. I miss the days I go jogging by the lake for hours and listen to the birds singing. I also miss the times I can eat by myself watching Japanese TV drama. I really miss the days that I care about myself the most and first.
Solutions (maybe temporary)
I decided that I need to redefine our marriage, at least in my head.
- I am still my fabulous self. Matt and I didn’t become one, instead, our household becomes 2 people (plus 1 bunny, 1 cat).
- We are both the head of household, in spite of that one of us might be the representative in some occasions.
- We will talk and make all major decisions together. To compromise must be a 2 way road.
- There was a period of time that I wanted to take my husband’s last name, thinking that it would be sweet and lovely. But then I realized that it associates with my identity crisis. So instead of being Mrs. Kung, I decided to remain as Ms. Kong.
- There is no chores that I “HAVE” to do. I am willing to more chores because I love my husband, my animals and my house. If I am busy or tired, it is okay to eat take outs and leave the apartment messy. This is not just in my mind, Matt clearly understands this.
- I will go out/travel more often to keep my sanity, no matter I go alone, with my parents or with girl friends. This will hold true even in the future when we have children. Since late June I started to walk/jog alone for 1 hour everyday, write my journal quietly in my porch garden every weekend, and planned several trips for the next 12 months. I feel so much happier now.
- Talk (vent) issues to my lovely parents, friends and blog more often. Although there is the side effect of getting evolved in rumors/gossips, having a supporting community is still vital for a healthy marriage.
The first few months of marriage life has been a little bit bumpy for Matt and I, especially as it correlates with the beginning of Matt’s new career path. But after all, I still feel extremely lucky and happy that I have the most intelligent and loving man I know as my husband. I believe he thinks the same too. The adjustment process has been a valuable learning experience for us as well – we know each other even better and learned how to treat each other fairly and with respect.
Another saying I started to firmly believe – love conquers all. At least in a marriage.
(And also as Matt thinks he is smarter than me, I think I am wiser than him.)