16 Women Get Real About How Marriage Changed Them

Wendy Robinson | Aug 8, 2017 Love & Sex
16 Women Get Real About How Marriage Changed Them
Image: iStock.com/funduck

couple sitting outside

When my husband and I met, I was a broke and anxious 25-year-old who didn't really know what I was going to do with my life. I wasn't sure if anyone would ever love me. And then I met Michael and everything changed. 

I'm 38 now and I can say with certainty that marriage has changed me, thankfully for the better. After 12 years of life with Michael, I'm more confident, more steady, more aware of who I want to be. 

I've become convinced that marriage or any long-term partnership changes both of the people in it. I don't think you can live with another person and come out the other side without being changed. But are those changes always for the good? I'm not sure, so I reached out to 16 women who've been married or partnered for at least five years to find out how they've been changed -- in both good and challenging ways. Read on for some fascinating glimpses into the truth about married life. 

  • Wild Child No More

    artistic woman

    "My husband grounded me. I was a wild child when we met. I quit smoking after our first date. Through time I learned how to respect myself. He helped me [unearth] my critical thinking skills, and helped me to realize my potential. I had never considered myself intelligent before him. But he showed me that I was and helped cultivate that. He encouraged me to be brave, have confidence, to think for myself, to explore my creativity." -- Melissa H., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • True Joy

    couple laughing

    "He grounded me and made me a kinder person. He has the most incredible work ethic and the kindest soul. To be around him is to experience true joy and kindness -- something I wasn't necessarily always good at." -- Brooklyn P., Lincoln, Nebraska

  • Kid Shift

    sleeping baby
    Mandy B.

    "I never thought I wanted to have kids until I met my husband. I still don't really love kids as a general rule. But I love the idea of having a kid with this specific person. He changed me by making me a mom." -- Mandy B., Arlington, Virginia 

    More from CafeMom: 10 Wives Reveal What a 'Good Marriage' Really Means

  • Complicated

    woman alone on beach

    "It's complicated: I think being married has forced me to become a better person but it also requires compromising myself." -- Sarah R., Austin, Texas

  • Running Man

    des moines marathon
    Leslie D.

    "I was always a couch potato. My hobby was reading on the couch while eating M&Ms. So of course I fell in love with a man who has a passion for running and triathlons. 

    "Over the last 10 years, his passion for running has rubbed off on me and I've started getting more active. I even ran a marathon a few years ago, which still shocks me! He's shown me that I'm capable of a lot more than I ever thought I was." -- Leslie D., Altoona, Iowa

  • Political Shift

    protest signs
    Sue T.

    "I was a registered Republican when we met and now I'm a regular contributor to Planned Parenthood and am sad every day that Obama isn't president anymore. I even took my son to the Women's March, and I've never gone to a protest before! My political views are now much closer to his, even if he is still generally more liberal than I am. 

    "I don't think he set out to convert me to being a Democrat. I think he was just more passionate about politics than I was and is a better critical thinker than I used to be. He's forced me to have hard conversations about race, gender, sexuality -- all that stuff. And now we can share a passion for hating Donald Tiny Hands Trump." -- Sue T., Tucson, Arizona

  • Clean It Up

    woman vacuuming

    "He's reduced my tolerance for messy. I grew up messy and his parents are both very clean so he is the clean one in our relationship. He taught me a love of sci-fi and fantasy. Things like Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, the Dark Tower, Battlestar Galactica that he introduced me to and now my love for them far exceeds his." -- Christina O., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Changing Everything

    couple on couch with coffee

    "He IS currently changing my entire view on love and relationships. I thought love was uncomfortable and hurtful. He feels like home. I thought having a husband meant being lied to, controlled, and made to feel inferior. He is a partner, trustworthy, and kind. It's taken me a while to get through my own hesitations, reservations, and anxieties. Coming out the other side of that, he's still there and I'm dumbfounded. Is this real? Is this a dream? Hes a GOOD man. He loves me and it feels RIGHT. Whether I'm with him for a few years or for the rest of my life: Mind. Forever-f*cking. Blown." -- Heather S., Richmond, Virginia

  • The Team

    holding hands outside

    "We are a team. He is the ant to my grasshopper. He plans, is organized, works to exhaustion, and has helped me to aspire to these traits, too. He is a card-carrying introvert, and I still think of myself as shy. I have helped him laugh, relax, and adapt to things he cannot control. He told me once, 'I wouldn't be able to change without you.' And, while it doesn't sound like a heartfelt, undying expression of love, it is. I don't know where I'd be if we hadn't gotten married, but I'm sure I'd be less stable, less happy, less a lot of things. I'm sure I'd live in a VERY messy house/apartment/alley if it weren't for him. He grounds me, and when I get him to laugh, I truly feel happy and loved." -- Jackie L., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Balanced

    walking arm in arm

    "He is my rock! We started dating in college and really matured into adults together. I taught him to save. He taught me to spend. We aren't the same, but we balance each other nicely. It is like several different relationships over the years. We will be celebrating 25 years together in September!" -- Patty P., Coralville, Iowa 

    More from CafeMom: Quiz: Will Your Marriage Last?

  • Angry and Sad


    "Our relationship has changed me for the worse. I'm angry and sad and I find it harder to trust people. Finding out your partner is cheating on you and has been FOR YEARS will do that to you. We're in counseling now, but I don't think it will work. Mentally, I'm already over it. I just need to think of an exit plan for me and the kids. I don't think I'll like who I become if I stay with him for much longer." -- Name withheld by request

  • Grounded for Good

    couple about to kiss

    "My husband absolutely grounds me. I am a legit crazy person. (I'm not being un-PC; I am being literal.) While he isn't always up for the exhausting life that is being my spouse, he is absolutely adoring, patient, and makes me laugh. He knows when to poke fun at me and when to take me seriously. He has helped me take a balanced view of the world. He is my best friend. I actually am not sure why he puts up with me." -- Katie S., Oakland, California

  • Little Moments

    dad goofing with child
    Alex T.

    "He helped curb a bit of OCD, helping me see that the world doesn't end if I don't vacuum daily. He reminds me to slow down and enjoy the little moments with our kids." -- Alex T., Pella, Iowa

  • A WIfe Now

    bride and groom holding hands

    "He made me want to get married. I never thought I'd want to give up my independence. I wasn't actually convinced that monogamy or the whole house/kids/white picket fence thing was for me. But he helped me see we can decide what kind of marriage works for us (like monogamy isn't a deal breaker unless we say it is). I've changed in that I'm more willing to rely on someone than I was before. I have more faith, I guess." -- Lauren S., Hudson, Wisconsin

  • Don't Ask

    crying baby dad in flannel

    "We are in a rough patch right now. We have a new baby and we're both tired. I feel like, right now, marriage has ruined me. I'm crabby, I'm ugly, I'm unhappy, and I don't really like him very much. 

    "But I'm also aware that this might just be a bad season, so I'm trying not to think I'll feel this way forever. Right? I guess he's changed me into someone who is willing to walk through sh*t for longer than I would have expected." -- Name withheld by request 

  • Perspective

    kayak out on the water
    Gracie R.

    "My husband has changed my whole perspective on life. He is a risk-taker, an adventure-haver, someone who's default answer to anything is 'YES!' 

    "I've learned to have more fun because of him. I've learned to spend money on things just because we want them or they're fun (like our new kayak!). We travel more and save less and I'm okay with it. He's helped me see that life is short and we need to make the most of it." -- Carrie S., Lakeville, Minnesota 

love living together relationships commitment counseling communication

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