As I walked through the metal detectors and had my bag checked for weapons at the social security card office, I started to rethink the whole changing the name thing. Jumping into the marriage was easy, but signing over your identity? That’s a biggie.
No one ever talks about the weird feeling a new wife gets, when she’s turning over her passport, her social security card, changing her e-signature and her voicemail over to reflect her first name (which remains constant, but is rather unidentifiable, due to its massive popularity), followed by the old last name subbed into the middle name spot so the caller won’t think they have the wrong number, and finally, the new last name.
Friends have told me about the bureaucratic hierarchy that one painfully has to wade through to get this new identity, and there are plenty of how-to articles and name change kits to help with the process, but what about the fact that now, I have an entirely new defined role in society? I’m a wife, a missus, a full-grown woman with a family of her very own (consisting of me, the husband and our furry beast Vin).
And what is a wife in the 21st century anyway? Do I amp up the cleaning, the decorating, the errand-running, now that I’ve said my vows? Do I make executive decisions about which pants to buy my spouse without calling him to weigh in, because wives are supposed to know best? And what about pooling our resources to save up for rainy days, and trips, and mortgages?
That’s another thing: mortgages. Real grown-up stuff. I was elated when my suggestion that we maybe possibly think about taking a look at a house for sale on a nearby street was met by a warm affirmation that yes, we it make sense to look into buying a home.
And onward with the house hunt we went! I was amazed at how quickly we were both willing to jump ship on our current rental home of four years, right after getting back from the honeymoon, but maybe it was being away that made us less “married” (Eh? See what I did there?) to the notion of staying. I think we’re fully aware that we’ve proclaimed ourselves to be man and wife, and with that, comes consequences — a whole new set of responsibilities.
Admittedly, we have it easier than most. My mom got me a book, which she urged me not to take too seriously, that provided jokey diagrams with tips on how to get used to having a spouse. “Don’t scoff at his dirty socks on the floor, and try not to get too angry when he doesn’t like your pasta,” was basically the gist of the book. And it’s valuable advice for couples who haven’t lived together before marriage. But for those of us who have already had many-an-exchange about please making sure the cups are in the sink or taking the dog out, it’s a huge relief to read those warnings about pending hurdles and realize that we’re already ahead of the game.
Take yesterday, for instance. I stormed into the living room and threw myself back into the reclining chair next to the husband, huffing loudly. He looked over, concerned. “What’s wrong?” I’d left some blankets in the dryer before going to work, and they hadn’t fully dried, so now they had a musty smell, I angrily spouted out. “It’s okay, you’re doing great.” He told me, as he grabbed my hand for some extra assurance. “Fine,” I relented. “I mean, thank you.”
Figuring out our new roles as husband and wife are very daunting tasks…when we give it too much thought. When I let it go though, and when we work the bumps along the road out, bit by bit, together, it doesn’t seem all that hard anymore. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone — and in fact, just by the nature of the promise we made to each other, I’ll never be alone.
He’s not just the guy I love anymore — he’s family. And seeing him as an ally, not just as some guy who’s name I reluctantly took to be watched over (thank goodness dowries and arranged marriages aren’t a thing around here anymore) makes all the difference. So three cheers for winging it, and to figuring things out as we go. We’re in unchartered territory now — might as well enjoy the ride.