As I write this, it has been seventy-one days since I got married.Unopened Target gift registry boxes still border the walls of my storage room, and cards from guests line my desk. My wedding dress hangs in my closet, still brown at the skirt’s edges from our reception’s beer-covered dance floor, but I can’t bring myself to take it to the dry cleaner. Part of me is still holding onto pieces of my wedding, grasping at everything that lingers from the best day of my life.
Before I got married, I had heard of the post-wedding blues and had even experienced them in mild form as a bridesmaid. But from a bride’s perspective, I had no idea what I was in for. Since the moment I stepped back into reality after my honeymoon in Mexico, I’ve felt a hard-to-shake, overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss of purpose. After a quick Google search and speaking with a few newlywed friends, I learned that I was not alone in my feelings.
Major moments in our life disappear in the snap of a finger. Licensed professional counselor Jessica Mostaffa says that people can grieve the end of happy life events as much as they can sad ones.
“It is common to feel a void or like all the air was let out of a balloon after a big event,” Mostaffa says. “People think grief is equated only with death, but we can experience grief and loss feelings after big events like a wedding.”
Mostaffa, who works at Wild Hope therapy services in Brookside, says possible reasons individuals feel depressed after their wedding could include unmet expectations or hopes for what the day might have been, feeling like they lost out on the joy of planning, missing the positive attention surrounding the big event, or unexpected or traumatic changes as a result of the event.
Along with plain sadness, other feelings recent brides and grooms might experience are worry or ruminating thoughts: Do I regret the flowers I picked? Should I have hired a videographer? Did I seem grateful enough or say hello to every guest?
Mostaffa also says that after a wedding can be a lonely time for individuals, which is something that they don’t expect or prepare for. “Planning and preparing for a big event, like a wedding or having a baby, gives individuals social attention and connection through important relationships,” she says. “When that’s over, people report feeling sad about not getting that special attention or connection anymore.”
My husband echoes this sentiment: “You think so much about the big event and everything leading up to that weekend that you never take the time to appreciate the fact that this is most likely the only time that you’ll have all of the most important people in your life in the same room.”
Licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of the Kansas City Relationship Institute in Independence Paul Busk says that this time in a couple’s life—“the honeymoon stage”—can also be challenging for relationships.
“Couples go through developmental stages, just like an individual would, and a wedding or any other major step or transition in relationships like moving in together, getting a pet together, getting married, having kids, changing careers—those transition moments can often shine a light on some growth areas that we might have as people,” he says. He adds that coming back from a honeymoon and realizing that, all of a sudden, everything is not perfect and people have to go to work, clean the house and take care of everyday responsibilities might create dissonance between reality and expectation.
Busk says that this, in turn, can cause couples to face challenges like failing to communicate with each other, shutting down, not having sex and experiencing lack of motivation to help with everyday duties like doing the dishes and folding laundry.
For couples experiencing any of these issues, Busk recommends addressing the situation with your partner.
“Start a conversation where you put your partner at ease,” he says. “Say: ‘Hey, I’m not trying to get you to save me. I’m not trying to get you to fix me. I’m not trying to get you to take responsibility. I’m not trying to get you to apologize, even. I’m just trying to get you to sit with me as I kind of talk through how I’m feeling.’”