Wedding season is winding down according to my seamstress who only has 20 dresses left to be altered. After your “I dos” and honeymoon, you may feel like you are crashing from a high, the culmination of many months (or years) of planning, being the center of attention and making all your dreams come true. Even though, you are now married to the man of your dreams and practicing signing your new last name, you may find yourself suffering from a post-wedding let down.
Why do we experience post-wedding blues?
Marriage is real and not a fairy tale – it probably isn’t all you imagined it would be. Marriage is hard. You are going to fight and you are going to hurt. Couples who don’t live together before getting married may find their soul-mates have habits that irritate them to the core or ways of doing things that are in direct opposition to how you prefer to do things. You may be disappointed to learn some of these minor conflicts.
During premarital counseling one of the biggest relationship stressors we discuss is wedding planning. As fun as it may be, it isn’t easy. There are appointments to be had and decisions to make, money to spend and crafts to be completed, deadlines to meet and professionals to hire. For many couples, family involvement can exacerbate this stress. Living with the extra stress of wedding planning for weeks or months has left you exhausted and lowered your immune system. You have probably be living on far less sleep than you actually need and the health of your diet may be questionable – either from stress-eating or from caloric restriction. You may look perfect on your wedding day, but emotionally you are hardly in the best place that you can be – no matter how happy the day is. Immediately following the wedding you rush off on your honeymoon adding travel stressors, jet lag, digestion problems, etc. Once you arrive home ready to start your happily ever after, things don’t get any less stressful because now you have a list of urgent tasks that you put on the back burner until after the wedding.
Now that you can cross “get married” off your list of “Life’s Major Goals”, what’s next? We function better emotionally when we have something to anticipate and a goal towards which to strive. You may be left feeling like you have no purpose or any important goals in your life after completing such a major life milestone. Some will immediately start trying to start a family to avoid this feeling. While children are a blessing, research has shown that they don’t actually make us happier.
The Post-wedding Blues occur for many brides regardless of the season, but it doesn’t help that the wedding season ends right as the seasonal depression season begins. Those who are susceptible to seasonal depression may be more likely to experience post-wedding blues.
How can you get over the post-wedding blues?
Schedule things to look forward to doing or experiencing. The first step is circling important dates already on your calendar like holidays, traveling for conferences, etc. You may need to add some new things to your calendar as well. A spa day with your mom and/or maid of honor to thank her for all her help with the wedding is one of my favorite ideas. The massage and relaxation is good for both of you. Is it time to set a new goal like running your first 5k or half marathon and capitalize on all the hours you have invested in pre-wedding workouts.
Don’t stop working out! You have more time now, so capitalize on your momentum. Exercise is extremely important for both physical and emotional health. The chemical release of endorphins can increase your energy and mood. It will also likely improve your sleep.
Whether it was eager anticipation that kept you awake or tying bows and stamping envelopes, you are likely at least a little sleep-deprived. Sleep is also extremely important to both physical and emotional health. Having enough physical energy helps feed our emotional energy. Without enough sleep not only is your energy lower, but your immunity is lowered, your ability to learn and remember is decreased, and your mental processing slows. Our brains use dreams to help us process through some of the difficulty mental and emotional moments in our days, as long as we are getting enough sleep. Start by making sure you are in bed for enough hours and your sleep environment is comfortable and clean. There are several behavioral tweaks you can make if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Like exercise, sex and/or orgasm can release endorphins, and there are plenty of other benefits as well. Each of us needs daily physical touch anyway. You are a newlywed, you don’t need another excuse; get it on.
You may be tempted to take on another major project but make sure that everything else is in order first. You may miss the excitement of event planning, but another big project may be more overwhelming than mood improving. I am sure you have plenty of smaller projects to complete. Have you sent all your thank you cards? Returned duplicate gifts? Left social media reviews for the professionals who helped make your wedding the best day ever? Cleaned out your closets? Sold all the leftover wedding decorations? Next year you can volunteer your new event planning skills for a fundraiser for a local nonprofit or cause.
If you need a new project, let it be your marriage. Read some relationship books and establish loving habits that will strengthen your marriage. Make dating your spouse your new hobby. Don’t wait until things aren’t going well to try to work on your marriage. Maybe you won’t ever have to call me for couples counseling, although many happy couples do just to help facilitate difficult conversations.