After the excitement and magic of your wedding is over, is it wrong to feel sad and disappointed – even depressed?
According to marriage counselors, many couples expect to enter a state of bliss after they celebrate their weddings. Yet one of every 10 women experiences depression in the first year of her marriage – and the number of couples who seek out post-nuptial therapy is growing.
Researchers recently interviewed a group of newlywed women to find out why. Most reported feeling bored and confused after their weddings were over. They had channeled so much of their energy into planning that one perfect day – and now they weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. For some, this loss of purpose turned into mild or moderate depression.
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, DIFFERENT OUTCOMES
What separated newly married women who merely felt empty from those who had symptoms of clinical depression? It turns out that the depressed brides viewed their weddings as an end goal, while happier brides felt that getting married was just the start of a new chapter in their lives.
Brides who felt the saddest weren’t sure how to define a new set of goals for themselves. They reported that the uncertainty they experienced after the wedding was transferred to other parts of their lives. Many felt unsure about their marriages and even their own identities. They had been so obsessed with the big day that they hadn’t given much thought to what would happen next.
Brides who found it easier to rise above the depressed feelings were focusing on ways to create a shared life for themselves and their spouses. This took on many forms, such as establishing a shared home, plans for vacation and holidays and new ways of connecting with family and friends.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BRIDAL COUPLES AND NEWLYWEDS
If you are planning to get married, you can take steps now to avoid the post-wedding disappointment that affects so many couples.
First, agree to skip the “wedding talk” at least one day a week during your engagement. Discussing your plans is fun and necessary, but by keeping it to a few nights a month, you will maintain a normal rhythm in your relationship that will sustain you beyond the extreme stress of the big day.
Take time to make plans that extend beyond your wedding. For every wedding image you pin on social media, collect another one that relates to vacations, recipes or date nights to enjoy after you’re married. If you give yourself real pleasures to look forward to, you’ll be more excited about life after the massive party’s over.
What if you’re already struggling with post-wedding depression? Couples therapists say this problem is very common – so begin by reminding yourself that you’re not alone. Don’t judge yourself harshly for feeling lost or anxious. Remind yourself that life transitions are always hard and that with the right support, this too will pass.
A crucial step is admitting to others that you’re not feeling right. Begin by discussing the situation with your spouse. S/he may have noticed the difference in your mood but felt reluctant to say anything. Explaining how you feel can help get everything out on the table so you can care for one another. You may be surprised to hear that your partner feels sad and confused, too – which means that you have the opportunity to help each other deal with this challenge.
If feelings of boredom, irritation and sadness don’t pass within a few weeks’ time, seek professional help from a qualified couples therapist. You may need treatment to overcome the mild to moderate depression that can follow a major life event. Having your spouse engage with you in the process will be affirming and helpful – reminding you that the love and support within your marriage is the greatest wedding gift.
TOGETHER, YOU CAN MANAGE THE TRANSITION INTO MARRIED LIFE
Janae Munday, LCSW, a skilled marriage counselor in the Phoenix, Arizona area, has years of experience in helping married and committed couples create the relationships they really want. If you are struggling with the transition from engagement to marriage and beyond, give Janae a call now.