10 Surprising Things That Change When You Get Married

Your weight

Research from Ohio State University found that women are more likely to pack on pounds after marriage, while men are likely to gain weight after divorce. Scientists looked at survey data from more than 10,000 people and found that the chance for the largest weight gain was highest after age 30. The study didn’t delve into the why, but experts have their theories: As you get older, a sudden change (like marriage or divorce) can be a bigger shock than it would be when you’re younger, and that can really impact your weight, suggests one study author. “Joy and grief are strong emotions that can also lead to an increase or decrease in appetite,” adds Heitler.

The freedom of your time

Before Courtney got married, she considered her time her own: She’d make her plans for the day—which always incorporated seeing her now-husband, but they were still her plans. After they got married and moved in together, free time became about ‘what we’re doing,’ not ‘what I’m doing,’ she explains. “It was weird shift for me at first, almost like I lost a little control of my day.” She enjoyed doing things with her husband, but still craved time on her own. And that need for space and “me-time” is both normal and healthy, says Park. You can love your togetherness, but it’s important to have the alone time to do the things you enjoy—not only for your own well-being, but also for the health of your relationship.

Your role in the relationship

Mom always took care of this in your family, while dad handled that; you and your hubby, however, may have different definitions of that and this. “People assume their role as husband or wife will mimic what was modeled growing up,” says Park. Experts agree it’s best to assume nothing, and instead talk about your expectations. Some couple may take similar roles that their parents did, says Heitler; others may find that who does what evolves gradually, with both people pitching in. But even if you vow to keep the division of labor equal, it’s likely that certain to-dos will move from his list to yours: “Somehow, I was suddenly responsible for remembering birthdays, anniversaries, and buying Christmas gifts for another entire family,” says April. “He pretty much just handed it over.”

Your sense of security

and her now-husband had been together for close to 15 years before getting married. They lived together first with roommates, then as a couple, and eventually became parents. “Marriage was never high on my priority list,” she says; “we were committed and happy and didn’t feel like we needed anything more.” But for health insurance and other reasons, they made it official about four years ago. “We wanted as little to change in our relationship as possible,” she says; what she didn’t expect was the added sense of comfort that came with the legal document. “I felt more secure in terms of if anything should happen to either one of us.”

Where the laundry collects…

..or how towels are folded, which wall the TV hangs on, or anything else that falls under the “our house” category. “Even couples who lived together beforehand are surprised at different issues that need to be addressed once they’re married,” says Heitler. With the committed partnership comes a shift in thinking—from “his way/her way” to “our way.” Take, for example, the laundry and your spouse’s inability to get it into a bin: when you were dating and he dropped it all over your shared apartment, maybe you let it go; if you didn’t live together, maybe you didn’t know. But now, the random dirty clothes piles grate your last nerve. Instead of criticizing or blaming, each partner should look at what they can add to a new plan of action, says Heitler—a process she calls the ‘win-win waltz’ in her book Prescriptions Without Pills. Maybe you agree to get additional laundry baskets, and he agrees to toss his clothes in. “It’s not exactly his way or her way, but both are adding to a shared solution.”