Today’s post is a very personal one. I believe this is a wedding and marriage topic that often goes undiscussed. Telling this story has been my passion project for some time now; I ask that you read my words– and those of the people featured below– respectfully and with an open mind. The “My” in the headline refers to me, not the other friends who so graciously shared their stories with me.
When you are engaged and planning your wedding, the majority of your emotional energy is focused on your wedding day– the grand celebration, the union of yourself with your partner, the party to end all parties. Likely, you’re going through marriage counseling as well, preparing yourself to take that next step into wife-and-husbandhood. But the thought of what happens next– what happens when the band stops playing, the dress comes off, and the guests go home– doesn’t always occur to every bride. So when that moment hits and the wedding is over… at times, it can be scary, unsettling, and depressing.
image via Three Nails Photography
I’m not assuming that everyone hits a bump in the road as soon as they enter into married life– but I’m not assuming it’s all hot sex, happiness, and married bliss either. Married couples (happily or not, newlywed or not) will all tell you: marriage is hard. Marriage is work. Despite how easily you intertwine with your partner, it is going to be a challenge at some point or another– and that’s okay. But your post-wedding experience is a very big part of your married life– and sometimes that transition from single girl to bride to wife can be hard. It has been for me.
In the months since my wedding, I have fallen into a slump. Don’t get me wrong– I had a pretty good idea what marriage would be like (I would say a decent amount of my friends are much older than me, either long married or already divorced) and I was prepared for the duel experiences of honeymoon bliss and real world challenges. But I put so much of myself into our wedding that once it was in our past, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I asked a few of my cherished friends to join with me in sharing our post-wedding experiences– because if you’re planning your wedding, you need the reminder: real life happens next.
“I went through a few phases after our wedding. On our honeymoon, we didn’t really rehash the wedding at all, except when we heard that one person complained about the seating arrangement. Despite countless comments about special details that guests loved, the great music, and the fabulous food at our wedding, that one comment threw us through a loop. We toasted that one negative nellie with a tropical frozen drink and forgot about the comment.
Hours after we came home, Charlottesville was gripped by a major news story. For a couple weeks, we didn’t talk about our wedding at all. I remember looking at Marc eighteen days later and saying “the wedding feels like it was months ago!’
For the next couple months, I didn’t want to talk about or look at weddings at all. I blog for Weddingbee and almost all newly married bloggers take a bit of a break immediately after their weddings. It was nice to feel like it was totally okay to totally ignore the wedding part of my blog reader for a while. When I started to peek at wedding blogs again, I found that the blogs I used to devour every day were almost boring to me at times. Friends planning weddings (and the other Weddingbee bloggers) have gotten me excited about weddings again.
Marc and I had been together for seven years when we got married, so newlywed life hasn’t provided us with any major surprises. We were committed to each other and acting as a team long before the wedding.” –jeannine
“The cliché about marriage is that once it happens, the romance disappears. The honeymoon is over, and life is all nagging wives, doofus husbands, and mothers-in-law.
Confession: it’s a little true.
Now, I don’t feel like I’m living an old vaudeville act, but I admit: the post-marriage life does mean some settling in and settle down. When my husband and I were first dating we’d invite each other over to ‘watch a movie,’ which of course meant that we made out while Amelie or Gladiator played in the background. These days, when one of us suggests watching a movie, we actually watch the movie. As is the case with many other young married couples, we both have full-time jobs and hobbies and chores and friends and parents, and a million other things that require our attention on a daily basis. Sometimes when juggling all these pieces of life, it’s easy to take your partner for granted and rush through a goodnight kiss instead of getting swept away like when you were first dating.
That doesn’t mean romance is dead. We still love each other like crazy and are 100% committed. But it does mean taking time to check in with each other. Sometimes in the morning when I’m rushing to get my lunch ready and find the right earrings to wear, I remind myself to take a moment and appreciate my husband– to give his arm a squeeze when I walk by or to really exist in the moment of a kiss, instead of trying to remember where I left those damn earrings. Because those little moments are romantic. It’s okay if you’re not hooking up every night like college freshman. (After all, you’re also not eating Ramen every night, right?) But I’m trying not to let post-wedding life get in the way of post-wedding romance.” –annie
“Like most couples, I was overly excited to have just been married and couldn’t wait to head to Mexico for our honeymoon. When we got back home, the day-to-day real life schedule set in and we had to get used to cooking together, cleaning together, doing chores, managing expectations for schedules and more. This was a little stressful for both of us because we had each done these things our own way, pre-wedding.
Although my personal transition to being married was fairly easy– in terms of me being excited to be a wife and share my life with Wil– we always joke about how terrible we were at being married for the first three months or so. We had a really hard time adjusting to married life. We didn’t live together before we were married so we had to start from scratch in terms of learning each other’s home habits, schedules and expectations of what each of us thought being married entailed. We now look back and laugh at those first few months– they were big learning experiences for both of us!
We’ve been married now for just over a year and a half and I think we’re closer now than we were throughout the entire time we were dating, engaged or just married. In marriage, I think your relationship changes because you have now committed to being that other person’s partner for the rest of your life. The commitment to always making it work and always making it better is really important. We are now in a place where we can be each other’s biggest cheerleaders and supporters, while also helping the other one grow and get better each day. We try and not sweat some of the small stuff that we did when we were first married and we continue to get better at being married everyday.” –ashley
“Immediately post-wedding I was nervous about being a good husband and if I would be any good at living with a woman for the first time in my life. It took a couple months, but I got into a groove in a good way.
It was difficult navigating living in a house with someone whom I had never lived with. What were her patterns going to be like, how long does it take her to shower, am I the one making the bed? Little stuff, but still stuff that took getting used to. I’ve become a better person since being married– I am more productive, more caring, and finally in tune with being a person who puts someone else first.” –wil
“Planning my whole wedding by myself was a huge project and when it was over, I had a bit of a melt-down. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion. The wedding itself was amazing and I was thrilled to be married to my sweet sweet husband, but once the day passed, I was not thinking about the blissful throes of marriage– instead I was worried about tearing down the event setup and trying to keep myself awake enough to finish everything off nicely. I came down with a fever the day after our wedding, probably because I had stressed myself out too much in anticipation of the big day and all the work I had to do. Once the wedding was over, I slept and slept and slept. Luckily, my husband likes to snuggle.
In these first few months of marriage, it’s been really fun (and sometimes still a little odd) to call my husband, “my husband”. We moved out of town two weeks after our wedding; we drove cross-country; we bought a new house and a new car and we moved into a brand new city. There have been a lot of exciting changes, and it’s been awesome to share these experiences together. We signed up for a shared health insurance policy and credit card too! When we traveled to India, we got to go through customs and immigrations side-by-side because we are married now, and that was kind of cool.
I still don’t truly feel like an adult, but sometimes I wonder if anyone actually does.
One thing that really hit home for me with our wedding was the sense of ‘realness’ about this relationship. It’s not like we can just have a fight and walk out on each other now. We made profound and lasting promises to each other to work through our stuff and support each other no matter what. That’s a big deal and we don’t take it lightly. In that sense, getting married definitely took our relationship to a new level. It means we work extra hard to communicate well with each other, be honest about what’s going on and try to be conscious of the habits and patterns we are setting up together. And of course, keep celebrating the love that we share. This has all be a great learning experience. I’m a fan of marriage for sure.” — frances
image by Jen Fariello
I’ll admit it: having a wedding was my biggest life goal from an exceptionally young age. All I wanted was to be a bride. Note how I described it– of course I wanted to be a wife, married forever to an amazing man, but most of all, I wanted the wedding. I’ve had my fair share of serious relationships, some of which veered towards the path to marriage. But after a year or so, my boyfriends would inevitably reveal some undesired quality or trait and I would be hit over the head with the realization: you’re not the one for me. So we would break up and I would continue on my quest for my groom.
Meeting John was love at first sight. Within only a few days, I knew he was The One for me. We began planning our wedding– and our marriage– shortly after we begun dating. The year (and some change) that were were engaged was a time of tremendous emotional highs and lows for me. It was all my dreams come true– planning the most perfect, unique, personal wedding day for us. But even though John was involved and excited in the planning, we were living states apart and rarely saw each other throughout our engagement. I wanted nothing more than to be with him all the time.
Our wedding day hit and the day after, my slump began. As soon as the last family member headed for the airport and John and I were left alone, I burst into tears. I cried ALL DAY LONG. We were staying at my parent’s house, leaving for our honeymoon early the next morning, and I laid in my brother’s twin bed and sobbed for hours. John tried to comfort me, but I was basically inconsolable. It was all over. And we were alone.
That feeling of alone-ness stayed with me. We are spending this year dedicated to training and have had to be out of Virginia for most of the year, working with a coach and group in another state. That disconnection with my home– Charlottesville– coupled with the loss of my wedding (it sounds silly, I know, but that’s how it feels) left me lifeless. I had what I wanted: a darling husband that I am with all the time. But without the wedding and the joy of being a bride, it didn’t feel like enough.
I knew I should be focused on creating a romantic life together, but I was exhausted. And unmotivated. And unhappy. We made the decision to hold off on having kids for a few years. I started to get the strangest thoughts: we shouldn’t have gotten married. We should have just dated forever. Getting married kills relationships. I just want to have children with him. I don’t care if we get divorced. When our photographer apologized for not having our images ready, I was quick to reassure her that I was fine with waiting. Not having those photos allowed me to let the wedding live on. I’ve procrastinated on our thank yous. I watch our wedding video over and over, multiple times in a row. I withdrew from John, felt more lonely than I had ever felt. No one tells you how lonely marriage can be.
We’ve been married for half a year now. And it’s slowly getting better. I still feel pangs of jealousy when I hear about new Belle Haven brides, or see Jen’s images of a new couple, or chat with Meghan about the fabulous weddings on tap this year. But I’m trying my hardest to live in the present, to celebrate my husband, to embrace and participate in the life we’re building together. It’s not easy. It takes communication and me being open with John about how I’m feeling on a regular basis. He’s opened up more as well– instead of sighing when I ask him silly questions (“Why do you love me? Why did we get married?”), he’ll give me thoughtful answers. We are very comfortable together– and it takes consistent effort to keep our marriage feeling fresh and exciting. I’m trying to see myself in a new way. The bride lived her role to the fullest. But that girl is gone. And it’s time to be a wife.