I asked my good friend, Ann, if I could interview her about being a newlywed. She has only been married for four months (November 2012); I thought she would be great for insight. Ann happily complied, saying that she had a lot to say on the subject. As a single girl, I like to get the real scoop on such matters. Not the sugar-coated, bullshit that usually accompannies such topics. If anyone was going to give me straight talk, it would definitely be Ann.
We decided to meet after 5pm and head over to a private club, where she is a member, to enjoy cocktails and gab about the subject at hand. After ordering two dirty martinis, sampling the cheese selection and looking out over the rooftops of surrounding skyscraper buildings that make up the Chicago skyline, we got started.
|Ann and Bryan in the early days, before marriage.|
I asked Ann how long she and her husband have been together. She did not just provide a date, "the last day of July 2007", she gave me a whole background story to go with it. This is pretty much how the evening flowed; the alcohol acting as a vehicle for Ann's memory. The tale of how Ann and Bryan met, starts with a wedding that Ann did not want to attend. The recent grad, who had just finished up her internship at the company where we both now work, wanted to spend her last days of summer beach-lounging at her parent's vacation home in Hilton Head, SC. She, instead, came home for her friend's wedding. Irritated by her friendly obligation, she and another mutual friend of the bride's, decided to make the occasion fun- by being obnoxious. They had a "dress off". Ann, clad in a black and white "tango dress", her friend in a yellow kimono. The "very ritzy" wedding, held at the Aon Center, was a black tie affair. The bride was understandably pissed. So the ridiculously dressed girls decided to do something even more absurd: get drunk.
The next day another one of Ann's girlfriends, Sam, asked her to come over to hang out at her apartment's rooftop pool. She was hungover and sunburned from weeks on the beach. Hesitant, she relented and went. Sam, feeling social, started chatting up the three guys sitting next to them. This did not sit well with Ann. Here she was, trying unsuccessfully to nurse away her hangover with more alcohol and her friend is offering their beer to strangers. One of the guys, Bryan, was looking at her. "[What] do you want a beer too?" she asked. He did. Polite and friendly, he mentioned how tan she looked (Bryan, who is Black, was not quite sure what ethnic group, Anne, who is White fell under). "[I was trying not to] puke in his face."
Bryan, originally from Detroit, and his friends had recently moved to Chicago and were new tenants of Sam's building. He asked for Ann's number to invite her to their housewarming party. Throughout the remainder of the summer, she kept going back to the pool, described as an MTV Spring Break Beach House type of spot: hot people all around. Whenever she would see Bryan, she asked about the housewarming. Finally, it became apparent that it was not happening. He asked her out to dinner instead. Their first date was at Coast, a sushi restaurant. Nervous, Bryan took on a more quiet personality than the one Ann first ecountered poolside. She made a point of letting him know she noticed the difference by teasing him incessantly at dinner. At the close of their date, Bryan showed his chivalrous side by not getting too fresh. Ann was not moved. She cannot remember if he gave her a hug or handshake, whatever it was, he took a conservative and almost prefessional approach. She opted to bypass the formalities and proceeded to grab and "[make] out with him". With the exception of a short break they took because she thought he was too polite, (she took him back when she overheard him making date plans with some other girl) they have been together ever since.
|The couple at Wrigley enjoying a Cubs game.|
Ann admits there have been some changes after exchanging vowels. The major one is how Bryan has become a "Mr. Fix-it" now. When she confronted him about this, he confessed that in the back of his mind he always felt that at any time, she could walk out on the relationship, so he drew the line before marriage. Bryan was not as invested in their condo prior to marriage. He is more proactive with household chores now. What has changed for both of them is that they are more likely to take a step back when the other person is upset.
On our second round of martinis, the conversation gets Ann the most expressive and opinionated. I ask, what separates you and Bryan from other newlyweds you know? Her response: "Oh my God. This is the best question!" Ann stands firm in her thought that marriage should not change a person or their life. When she speaks of a "person", she means women. In Ann's opinion, the fact that you know you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone, means there is no need to spend so much time with them. Fickle post-marriage friends are her "biggest fucking pet peeve!" She feels that the friends and people who were in your life before you got married, the same ones who shaped who you are should not fall waist-side, once you get married. "Have your girls' day. Your lifestyle was fine before. That's how you fell in love." Ann continues, "All these crazy girls drop everything. No. Be yourself. Do your own thing!" She has sensed an anticipation of being a housewife as the culprit. Women start being extra domestic, attentive and available- trying to forecast their husband's assumed needs. In a mocking voice, she imitates some oft-heard excuse for not hanging out: "I have to go home and cook for [insert husband's name]. You never cooked for him before." She questions why a woman would work so hard their whole lives, putting in "blood, sweat and tears" to end up doing nothing. "Fuck that! Why spend so much money on college?!" The thought of being a stay-at-home wife bores her. She is tired of girls "fall[ing] off the face of the earth". Ann says nothing has changed with her and Bryan. She likens it to moving from JD to Varsity, "you're still a high school soccer player. Be yourself."
|Ann and Bryan on their wedding day.|
For the single girls, Ann says it is important to "keep your options open and don't settle." She admonishes against the "super hot asshole" and questions if women really want that. Her suggestion is to link up with someone sweet, good and who shares your same values. Something Ann has noticed, even with Bryan, is that you cannot escape your father. Especially if you have a close relationship. Although you may not see it at first, subconciously, you will be drawn to someone who is like your dad. It was her father who instructed her never to bring home someone with no ambition- something he always displayed. Color and background were not important to him. A hard worker was the most significant quality. She concludes: "there is no perfect package." Truer words have never been spoken. Check please!!
|The honeymoon in Thailand and Cambodia|
...the best marriage advice she was given...
She has never received any advice she would consider positive about marriage. Most people seem to focus on work, never the good things about being married. Her advice to newlyweds? "Value each other." Once married, there is no "get the fuck out of my house. No, this is [our] house." She is also against bringing a child into the mix until you are comfortable and ready.
...the best thing about having a husband...
The support that "any long-term relationship" should provide. Ann and Bryan support each other to achieve their individual goals. She also feels comforted by family acceptance on both sides.
...if married people can be friends with singles...
Yes. Most of her friends are single. When it comes to group activities, Ann thinks a little etiquette goes a long way. A married or coupled friend should make sure the single friend is comfortable. This means be easy with the PDA. "Don't bring them to a couples event with eight couples. That's dick! It's an easy question, but people don't get this stuff."
...encouraging others to get married...
She does not encourage or dissuade people from getting married, "everyone's different." But she thinks people should consider the concept of forever. "You get sick of your favorite socks. [Your favorite] food." Time is the most critical factor to Ann. She recalls, it took three years of living together before discovering that it was Bryan, tapping his toothbrush on the sink, that caused the watermarks on the bathroom mirror. Although she is aware it is not major, she queries, "what if we had been married? There are things that take time to come out." That is why she is a proponent for living with someone for at least a year prior to taking that walk down the aisle. To experience someone's routine.
...what brides-to-be need to know...
Whether you're worried about your dress- "it will get ruined" (whatever your
idea of ruined is). Your in-laws- "there is always a one-up factor, especially with mothers". Or the drunk person that inevitably acts an ass. "Do not think everything you want, you're going to get." Even those you will get "heat" from about not receiving an invitation, "you shouldn't care. Get over it!"