What She's Really Thinking After 1, 5, and 10 Years of Marriage
"We were ambitious in our first year of marriage and took on a lot: A lot meaning, a cross-country move, home ownership (a.k.a gigantic debt), two new jobs, and a really obese cat. Even though we had some major meltdowns along the way, having that super-official piece of paper made it feel like we were on a team. For what it's worth, my husband still has not accepted the cat on our team. Baby steps."
Anne J., 32
"At this point, I still can't believe that he's mine. I love our life together. I wake up happy to see him in the morning. There's a new, bottomless depth to our relationship. I feel like our love has gotten much richer since we got married. On the nuts-and-bolts side of it, I never knew how hard it would be to keep a house clean! It's so much more work when you're worrying about two people instead of one.
"As we settled into our life over the past year, figuring out who is responsible for which household chores has been a bit of a struggle. They say, 'Do a job once and it's yours for life,' so I've been a bit cautious to take on too much! I thank him enthusiastically when he does the dishes or vacuums because I hope he'll keep it up. I want to travel a lot in the next year or two and then think about having kids. We're not in any kind of a hurry."
Stacey K., 27
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"I'll be honest, after having our child (a little girl named Astor, who is now 17 months old), life with my husband Justin has become less focused on our marriage and more on our family. Our 'we' now includes three people, not just two. We don't take relaxing vacations to the beach; we take fun family vacations to the waterpark. We don't go out for romantic dinners much any more (every once in a while!), but we do have fun watching Astor try guacamole at a kid-friendly Mexican restaurant.
"I don't know if our focus on family is a good or bad thing for our marriage, but I do know that our daughter has tightened my connection with Justin. I love that there is someone else on earth that cares about Astor just as much as I do...that love for her really bonds us together. It also makes me feel that I am absolutely not alone in this whole crazy parenthood thing. I would say that I love Justin more than the day I married him. He has been unbelievably supportive of me since the minute Astor was born (and all throughout my 31-hour labor!), and he is an absolutely wonderful father -- pretty attractive qualities in my book!"
Emily T., 30
"It didn't feel all that different from being engaged...except we have real dishes now."
Meredith B., 29
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"My husband and I were best friends for several years before we took the plunge and started dating. When we first moved to L.A. so he could pursue his career in TV writing, we hit a rough patch. The Writers Guild strike happened within months of us moving, I lost my job at a non-profit, and we were planning our wedding in New York. There were a lot of sleepless nights and a few fights over money.
"Enduring that before tying the knot made us much stronger for our actual marriage. We had to deal with major life events, financial stress, and trying to make it in a brand new city. The adage 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' was us in a nutshell. What it taught both of us was that while we were in love, we were also able to deal with the messiness that happens when you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone else. While romance is lovely, the fact that we were there for each other during our worst times made us a better couple."
Jennifer C., 33
"Being married to my husband all these years is like having Christmas everyday. He's one beautiful surprise after the next. Who's to say marriage is no longer viable? They didn't marry the wonderful man I did! A day doesn't pass that I'm not grateful for having Mr. Wonderful! He's the storybook ending. My husband is everything a man should be, I wouldn't trade him for the world!"
Chantay B., 36
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"I had been married once before; he had never been married. Love has been lovelier for me the second time around — I like my husband as much as I love him. We weren't kids when we tied the knot: I was almost 39, and he was almost 43. I know he was nervous about getting married. Many of his friends had been divorced, and some of those divorces were emotionally and financially exhausting. With each passing year, I've become that must more grateful to have someone I love so much in my life. I still really feel like we're courting, and I've just been on a long, incredible date."
Glynis B., 48
"The circular band on my left hand remains a constant reminder of my own private prison. I remember thinking about all the years I'd yearned to be one of those women proudly wearing the ultimate sign of coupledom, a wedding band. Then after 10 years of marriage, I would look at my ring, it was an eternity band of diamonds, and wish that my finger was bare and I could be free. At some point after the birth of our second child and the huge success of our business I believed he'd stopped seeing the 'we' and only saw the 'he.' I felt like I'd stopped being a wife and was rather a pretty little detail in the bigger scheme of what represented his life."
Kerri Z., 54, author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom's Guide to Finding the REAL One
"What makes my relationship unusual are two things: 1. The fact that I am a divorce mediator makes people assume I am soured against marriage. 2. My husband and I have had a long distance, bi-coastal marriage for three years (due to careers). Again, people assume it means we are unhappy or are headed for divorce.
"Both of these facts about our relationship work to make us not only strong but make our relationship a priority. We are both extremely happy and in love with each other. Somewhere around year eight we just blended in terms of being on the same life plan with both our individual and joint goals working well for us. We both have strong career needs, family needs, and relationship needs, and our dance is in sync. It's a solid feeling to know we are truly a family now."
Nancy F., Owner of The Divorce Help Clinic in San Diego, 49
"The keys to our marriage are respect and laughter. When we started dating, we began a four-year long-distance relationship, so the first year of our marriage was great because we could actually be together. Upon returning from our honeymoon, we moved 600 miles away from our families. I had never lived anywhere except with my parents, so we learned to work together. Five years came in a blink of an eye. By 10 years, we had three kids. I love him more now than when we said 'I Do.'"
Jennifer R., 34