5 Single-Person Habits to Kick When Saying, "I Do"
It's time to stop creeping on your ex's Instagram, single you did that, married you doesn't!
Settling down with your person is wonderfully fulfilling, but it takes hard work to make it strong and to keep it healthy. We all come to relationships with our emotional baggage (yes, even those of you who are lucky enough to marry the first person you dated seriously). Because we all bring our preconceived notions of marriage roles and expectations from our families of origin. We all have wounds and questions and doubts. And we all have habits.
Habit-kicking aint easy. Atomic Habits by James Clear is a great resource full of different ways to get rid of habits for good. One of the methods that personally works great for me revolves around identity. To adopt a new habit, you must adopt a new identity. I have a tumultuous relationship with food. I love it a little too much. In high school, I would finish every item on my plate and get overly full (I've heard it called "miseraful" before). In college, I used to binge-eat sweets whenever I was overly stressed. I envied girls who only ate healthy portions and didn't struggle with stress-eating. One day, I decided I was one of those girls. When I was tempted to eat 100 Hershey's kisses, I would say to myself, "I don't do that. I am a healthy eater." Now at this point, you may be wondering why I am rambling on about food when this article is about relationships.
As with any habit, relational or not, quitting requires taking on your new, ideal identity. I hope that you take the majority of "single you" into a relationship: your sense of humor, your love for popcorn, and your friendships. But if you want to make something that will last, you have to leave behind these destructive habits. And I'm not only calling you out, I'm calling myself out.
Habit #1 - Creeping on your Ex's Instagram
Please note, I define an "ex" by the duration and severity of the relationship. I'm not talking about that guy you had a thing with for a week in middle school or the girl you went on two dates with in college before you came to your senses. The danger with creeping is that it's easy to think of previous relationships as being better than they really were. We have all been tricked by Nostalgia, who often distorts things. Say goodbye to your old flame and checking up on him or her. If you were to feel embarrassed with your spouse watching your social media activity, you probably shouldn't do it. Which leads me to the next destructive habit.
Habit #2 Keeping Secrets
When you're single, it's good to protect yourself until the ring comes. Even the longest and most well-intentioned engagements and relationships can break off before they get to marriage. But marriage is a real game-changer. In the healthiest marriages, neither partner is entitled to the right of privacy. Secrecy kills intimacy, a key ingredient to love. Want to feel distant from your person? Spend in secret. Use that incognito browser tab. When it comes time, tell your kids things that you haven't told your spouse. Secrets left kept have the biggest potential of hurt when improperly unleashed. Don't let your person be surprised by anything, no matter how hard it is to tell the truth. Single you kept secrets, married you doesn't.
Habit #3 Being Independent Over Interdependent
Before you got married, independence was the goal. It was prized and glorified. It was the proof to your parents that you're an adult who can fund their own Disney+. Now that you're married, keeping too many things separate can lead you into a dangerous mindset. A this-is-mine-and-that-is-yours mentality where you're two separate individuals living together rather than two people thinking as one. This kind of perspective makes you think of a person in terms of what benefits they bring to you. It's a transactional relationship that can breed selfishness. You share everything now. You're not codependent, but you trust that person enough to lean on their strengths when you're weak. It's no longer your shampoo that you bought with your hard-earned money. It's you AND your spouses shampoo. It's not your car that you bought, it's both of your cars now. It's not her debt or his debt, it's your debt. Single you was independent, married you is interdependent.
Habit #4 Having Your Mom/Bestie on Speed Dial
I find this one to be more of a struggle with women. As a single woman, I became used to calling my mom every day to decompress. Maybe you have your go-to bestie that you hit up when you find out exciting news. When I first got married, my husband was the 2nd one to know everything. If your person is not excited for you when you're excited, that's a red flag. When you're married, nobody can come before your spouse because that person can quickly come between you and your spouse. Single you called your mom first, married you calls your husband.
Habit #5 Impromptu Spending
Single you decided on Thursday to fly to Los Angeles on Friday to visit your best friend for a weekend. Single you dropped $300 a month on gadgets from Amazon. But that's not married you. Married you runs every major spend through your person and respects the budget that's been set. Remember that part about sharing? Yeah, your money isn't just yours anymore. It's his/hers too. Major money decisions should be made together. And sometimes the dispersement won't be fair. My husband used our extra cash to buy me a new (and very much needed) laptop for Christmas. I couldn't have rivaled that amount on getting him something, but marriage is sacrificial and at times, unfair. Single you spent your money when and how you wanted, married you doesn't have that luxury.
My husband and I have only been married for 18 months so I'm certainly not an expert. However, my parents kicked these single-person habits 28 years ago and are still happily in love to this day. If you're willing to say, "goodbye" to these 5 old habits, your marriage is more likely to succeed. They are difficult, but not impossible if you are committed to your new "identity" as a married person. I hope that your weird and fun quirks stay but that these habits go. And, at the end of the day, that you ask yourself, "How would I want my spouse to treat me in regard to this?"