Married at 22: ‘Adulting’ Together

I’m like many others: when I heard the word “adult” used as a verb, I scoffed, and probably rolled my eyes a little.

But, it didn’t and hasn’t gone away. Adulting, as Millennials have coined, is here to stay. This is what language is all about—it’s a reflective evolution that isn’t worth getting mad over; “literally” doesn’t mean what it used to, and we all just have to deal with it. So, instead of stewing in the silliness of it all, I’ve adopted adulting as a viable term. My husband and I use it pretty frequently, usually paired with long sighs, venting sessions, and moments of existential dread.

All young adults have to come to terms with their changing roles. We go from students to active members of society. We transition very quickly, moving from a classroom to a cubicle in a blink of a Lasik-needing eye.

Sometimes, we’re just not prepared for what we have to deal with. We’ve all joked about learning more about the mitochondria (it’s the powerhouse of the cell) than taxes in high school, and suddenly you go from using the free university health center to figuring out if your insurance covers this visit to the doctor.

It feels like uncharted territory, with many twists and roadblocks that you never knew to anticipate. Most Millennials go through this transition alone. For me, I’ve had to experience these changes as a teammate, especially since I got married right in the thick of my young adulthood era.

What it’s like to experience these 5 adulting trials as a married couple

Adulting trial #1: Buying a Car

What it’s like: Something you learn in marriage is that there is a lot of compromise when it comes to shared things; it’s not all about what you like and prefer and want. Buying a car really expedites that learning process. Not only do you have to pick out a vehicle that is within your budget and deal with the ins and outs of sales and car dealerships and finance lingo, you also have to both agree, communicate, and negotiate, all at once.

Us, after we bought our first car. Our salesman Joel was both super helpful and fun.

Even for the most go-with-the-flow couples, there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to buying a car. It’s a big commitment. We bought our car brand new (a huge surprise to us, and not at all what we were expecting to do), and spent an entire day trying to navigate our realistic needs with our limited budget. It was tough. Even with things like automatic windows—something I never thought I’d have to go to bat for, but came up once or twice—there was a discussion involved.

We ended up agreeing on our new whip, but it was a pretty big process to get there—a long day of going back and forth. But that feeling of driving out of the lot, excitedly, into a new chapter together, was completely worth it.

Adulting trial #2: Paying Bills

What it’s like: I’ve been paying bills since I left home and went to college. It started with rent (my college dorm was a little weird, since they made us make monthly payments), and then grew once I moved off-campus with other utilities. Since graduating college, student loans have popped into monthly circulation as well. Then, a car payment, from that lovely new set of wheels mentioned above.

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This is all normal. As you get older, you tend to get more bills. I think this is something that everyone can expect.

When you’re married, you just have to be ready for some bills to just double. And that can take a little period of adjustment. And, sometimes there are some unexpected payments, that you didn’t realize you were walking into.

For example, I had some credit card debt. Not much—I used my credit card to pay for a summer class that didn’t accept financial aid, plus I ordered a plane ticket to Alaska when my best friend got married. So, we’re talking maybe a little over $1,500 total, which took me a while to pay off on my student-editor salary. And, upon getting married, Chad absorbed the debt too. It became our debt. And here’s what’s important when dealing with this kind of adulting trial: you can’t be judgmental. You just have to make a plan, together, and use each other’s strengths to get it paid off.

(Guess what, we did. Quickly. And what did we do? We high-fived and said, “Go us, we’re adulting!”)

Adulting trial #3: Making Appointments

What it’s like: To summarize in a word: UGH. Making appointments, whether it’s for the dentist, the doctor, or to schedule someone to come take a look at the furnace, is never, ever fun. And for us Millennials with social anxiety, it’s never really easy, either. This is something we all learn very quickly in Adulting 101: you’ll wonder why you ever took your mom calling on your behalf for granted.

flat lay photography of calendar
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In terms of being married, making appointments does not get any easier. Sorry. Unless you happen to marry someone who is more than willing to hop on the phone and take care of everything for you (which would be weird, since they are a partner and not a parent), you’re out of luck.

Here’s the truth, and nothing but: you  are going to wish your mom could make that appointment for you. You might even wish that your spouse could do it for you. Well, they can’t. It’s on you. And if you turn to your spout for support, they’ll most likely just be glad that they aren’t in your position, but they probably will be kind enough not to admit it.

Adulting trial #4: Health Scares

What it’s like: If you are unlucky enough to face a health scare that needs urgent medical attention, it feels like adulting on steroids. You have to sort through insurance information and hospital websites while assessing your health, which is not usually an easy task.

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When you’re married, it’s complicated. You’re not alone. There is someone who can be by your side, helping you to navigate and hold your hand. You’ve got a built-in support system, and one that will go to bat for you and help you get the care that you need.

It’s not easy. It’s not the same as having a parent who has been there before and knows how to fill out paperwork or which entrance to use at the hospital. They are learning as they go, just like you, and are stepping into a role riddled with worry and concern.

Health scares are hard. But having a loving spouse there, who is able to join you in the emergency room, can fill out your medical history, or make the phone call updates to family, is a relief.

Adulting trial #5: Housework

What it’s like: It’s crazy what you can go through in school—late nights, homework all evening, getting up early to finish projects—versus the struggle of doing one simple adult task after going to work all day. I’m talking laundry, doing dishes, or wiping down counters.

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Housework as a married couple can be filled with a lot of tension. It needs to get done, but usually both partners have a limited, depleted resource of energy. #JustMillennialThings I suppose.

Here’s how we cope: I am blessed with a husband that gags at gender roles as much as I do, so that’s one less stress-inducer to worry about. However, since cleaning is not easy for either of us, resentment can pile on when housework is not equally shared. The solution typically comes with communication, and a little bit of compromise.

Sometimes one of us has to pick up slack while the other simply can’t. Whether it’s extra stress from work, seasonal depression, or a period of soul searching that pushes folding laundry out of the focus, it happens. So, we understand and communicate. We always, however, maintain some level of clear expectations, and talk about what we need from each other.

The best part, though, is knowing that it’s not all on you. You have a partner, and are able to both work together and get things done. Being able to rely on someone else is priceless, and makes the daunting tasks a little easier, especially when they decide to turn on the music and dance their way through the pile of dirty dishes.

Keep Things in Perspective

In the end, each of these adulting experiences come down to how you make it and approach the situation. You’re not alone, and have a partner to rely on. Even when things get complicated, you always have your person to get through it with.

Photo Credit: Bobby Joe Photography

21 thoughts on “Married at 22: ‘Adulting’ Together

  1. It was an amazing read ! A beautiful post you have shared here. Your honest thoughts and how you shared your thoughts about love is beautiful too! You are absolutely right ! When you are with the right person as lifepartner, everything become “ours”. Instead of “I” , it is “We”. Thank you for sharing wonderful post. I loved it ! 🙂 XOXO

  2. This is a great article. You guys seem to have a true PARTNERSHIP, where you share burdens with each other. That’s hard to find. These are also a lot of things that I never considered, because I’m not married.

    1. thanks! any relationship that requires working together definitely can carry these components, especially if there’s any kind of task involved, platonic or familial or anything in between. good to have in the back of your head if you ever do decide to get involved with someone. 🙂 thank you for reading!

  3. Gah!! Love this so much. I was 35 years old before I learned how to do housework, lol. My husband and I have been together since I was 15, married at 23, and kids at 25. I tell people all the time that we basically grew up together. Now I can say we are adulting together. Great post!

    1. It sounds like we have a very similar story, though I’m not quite to the kid stage yet! Honestly, it really is growing up together! We were basically kids at the start, and far from having anything figured out. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

  4. I think if you are with the right person then it can make adulting a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to marriage and still trying to figure out the adulting world but doing it with someone you are actually compatible with helps out tremendously! Great post :).

    1. I completely agree! Compatibility is really important, especially when it comes to tedious or hard tasks. I remember how jazzed I used to be about going to the grocery store with my husband—it felt so fun and easy just to run errands together. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

  5. Paying bills together can definitely be a challenge when you first get married! I know it took me a little while to get used to “my money” becoming “our money.” Great post! Following you now!

  6. What a great post! In Slovenia we mostly don’t have student loans, so thats one thing less to worry about, also our health system is much simpler, but for the rest I can totally relate. It is not easy to adult and lots of my friends told me that even though they earn a lot more than they did during studies they feel like they have a lot less money now. Having a car is definitely a huge spending hole so we decided to postpone this for now. We live in a small city and can get around with public transport or bike easily, even though it would be nice to have a car for some day trip on a weekend.

    1. thank you so much, and for giving me a different perspective on your culture! it’s so interesting how much things can vary. I 100% would love to see a shift in the health care system and higher education platform here in the US. so many other countries have the right idea! and good thinking on the car; if you don’t need one, it’s beneficial not to have one—both financially and environmentally. thank you for reading!

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