People have a lot to say about marriage. Whether they’ve been happily codependent with their spouse for 30 years, survived a crushing divorce, or have simply seen a lot of romcoms, everyone’s ready with advice or a pseudo-warning about how drastically life will change as soon as you have a ring on your finger. My husband and I are coming up on our one-year wedding anniversary, and when I look back on our engagement, I think about my enormous wedding planning binder, the quality time I spent with loved ones, and plenty of thoughtful (if unsolicited) wisdom about married life. But in this first year of marriage, I’ve found that much of what I was told isn’t quite true.

Our society has built up a mystique around marriage: How special it is, yes, but also how scarily final it feels once you’re in it. As of our wedding day, my now-husband and I had been together for just shy of seven years, but if I’d fully believed everything I’d been told about married life, I would’ve been convinced before I even put on my veil that the relationship I’d come to cherish would never be the same… and not in a good way. If I had a nickel for every time I was on the receiving end of a “ball and chain” joke or a dime for every person who implied that I’d suddenly become the only person in my home actually using the amazing kitchenware we received as wedding gifts, let’s just say we would’ve saved a lot of money for our honeymoon.

I know I’m still a newlywed. I have years of (mostly) wedded bliss ahead of me, and I’m sure that some of the less-than-rosy forecasts that people shared with me about married life may start to feel slightly more familiar to me as my husband and I take on new challenges and continue to evolve as people. Still, I firmly believe that a lot of the go-to language that people use about marriage comes down to misconceptions. If engaged couples are prepared to accept that wisdom with a hug, a smile, and the teeniest grain of salt, then we can actually focus on our own relationships, instead of the ones that other people expect us to have after we say “I do.” Being aware of the misconceptions has made it easier for me to separate myself from them and enjoy this whole marriage business on my own terms.

four marriage myths I’ve discovered as a newlywed ARE UNTRUE

1. I haven’t “given up” or granted myself permission to “stop caring” about my health. I worked really hard pre-wedding at upping my self-confidence and becoming my healthiest self so that I could feel great on my wedding day, and that hasn’t stopped just because we were declared husband and wife. In the weeks and months after we got married, it felt great to be rid of the pressure to look good in my dress, but I didn’t suddenly discount taking care of myself just because I’d “locked down a man.” My own confidence (not to mention, my health) is important, so I still make an effort to eat well and go to the gym. Being married doesn’t mean that you give up your right to feel great about yourself — or that your positive body image is tied to your spouse’s opinion of you.

2. I haven’t suddenly decided that we need to start a family right away. My husband and I definitely plan on having children down the road, but in the months leading up to our wedding, I wondered if I’d immediately feel some sort of a mental switch flip that made me eager to become a mother right away. Every newlywed is familiar with the “When’s the baby coming?” questions, right? This matter is, of course, an extremely personal one and different for every couple, but I was relieved to find that I didn’t suddenly feel some kind of biological pressure to start a family. Each one of us can make those personal decisions in our own time! This early stage of marriage feels really special and totally distinct from the seven years we spent dating, and I’m happy to be able to enjoy it — just the two of us — while we wait for that mental switch to flip at a later date.

3. Our relationship hasn’t become any less surprising, romantic, or fun. Marriage isn’t some boring, predictable drag. My husband and I fall into a routine like every other couple, and we’re certainly guilty of getting a little too comfortable with that monotonous routine occasionally, but by and large, our relationship is still just as interesting, exciting, and hilarious as it was in the days before we shared a last name. Keeping marriage fun definitely doesn’t happen by accident. We make a point out of doing date nights, and we work really hard at communicating when either of us is feeling like we’ve landed in the “roommate zone.” But, I’ve found that knowing we need to make those things a priority is more than half the battle. Getting married doesn’t suddenly mean that you’re destined to be bored (or boring), as long as you don’t get lazy in your relationship.

4. We’ve maintained our individual habits and opinions — even the ones that aren’t necessarily the same. I always assumed that over the years, many of the differences between me and my then-boyfriend would start to fade, and the wisdom I heard when he became my fiancé confirmed my suspicion that we would quickly become a totally unified duo. A year into our marriage, I still have no problem expressing my differing opinions (both in and outside of our home), and my husband and I continue to debate a wide range of topics, from how we spend our money to how much of a mess is really appropriate to leave in one’s closet (ahem, not me). We enrich each other’s lives, but our lifestyles and opinions aren’t total mirror images of each other, and that keeps things interesting and dynamic.

What other misconceptions do you think are out there about marriage? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Bri Cibene Photography)