Post-Nuptial Depression – Are you at Risk of the Honeymoon Blues?

When you think of all the grand ideas we associate with a wedding day – that it’s the most important, most romantic, most perfect, life-changing 24 hours of your time here on earth – it’s very easy to become consumed with making a day just that. Is it any wonder then, after months of building up this expectation of overwhelming joy, that so many women are left deflated, defeated…depressed?

"That’s it?"

Some brides’ initial reaction after the big day is an exhausted ‘that’s it?’ The majority of events you look forward to in life have a twinge of the ‘anti-climatic’ to them – Christmas, summer holidays, birthdays… Generally the more you prepare and plan for something, the more of a ‘let down’ it seems to be. “Some brides allow their wedding to consume their life, particularly in those last few months,” says Blaithin O’Reilly Murphy, wedding planner and blogger at WeddingHigh.com, “It’s also a day they have perhaps thought or dreamed of for considerable time and once the big day is over they sort of feel, oh no, is that it?”

Months of obsessing over details of the wedding, speaking about it to friends or family or having sleepless nights of both worry and excitement can leave a feeling of emptiness once it all comes to an end. “The excitement of planning a wedding is no longer there,” says Blaithin, "some brides have spent months, possibly years, talking, researching and planning everything aspect and at the end of the day they only get 24 hours. And for some brides they may not get to see or experience everything they have put so much thought and effort into.”  

Recently the idea of post-nuptial depression has become more prominent, which may be a direct result of the increasing spend on weddings and the uncertainty of what the future holds for young couples financially. In a twist on ‘buyer’s remorse’, initially some couples can feel regret over spending so much on their day, or worse, for getting into debt because of it.

The ‘Honeymoon Period’

The honeymoon period is the term for the few months after your wedding when you fall in love all over again, when you can’t spend a moment without each other and want to do nothing but stay in bed all day together. Unfortunately this ‘honeymoon period’ doesn’t happen for most newlyweds. Once the wedding and honeymoon is over couples come crashing head first back into reality – work, food shopping and bills are all you can see and guess who’s the first person you take your disappointment out on?

Arguments are just one aspect of the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ that comes as a surprise to brides. Another is a feeling of anxiety. It is human to experience panic during a period of change, and the one in which you go from a single person to a part of a couple is one of those life-changing times that some don’t prepare well for. Post-wedding jitters are as real as pre-wedding jitters are and in some cases can be worse as you feel that you may have made a mistake getting married or feel trapped in your current position. These feelings intensify when you are under the illusion that everyone you know is blissfully happy in their relationship, or when you read so much about the often illusive ‘honeymoon period’ of nothing but sex and happiness.

Another problem WOL contributor Sarah* thinks brides come up against in those first few months is believing that once they are married, things will change and that they will become ‘everything’ to their other half. In the article Building Bridges, Not Wars, Sarah shared the first time she realised the life of her new husband didn’t revolve around her, now that they were married. “In the moment where my groom of two weeks insisted that he couldn’t sleep on a particular side of the bed,” she says, “something inside me realised that I was not (and wouldn’t be) the centre of his universe.” After 23 years of marriage, and now in training to become a councilor, Sarah also offered up some advice for newlyweds who are finding the ‘honeymoon period’ particularly daunting. “When the euphoria of falling ‘in love’ becomes something mundane,” she reflects, “we must begin the ‘work’ of being in love – choosing to love even when we don’t always feel loved and learning to show love in a way our partner appreciates.” 

Of course, it’s not doom and gloom the moment you say goodbye to your guests, as you now usher in the rest of your lives together. Keeping you head and looking forward to the future are paramount in avoiding these feelings, according to Blaithin. “Realise that your wedding is just one day,” she says, “Yes it was a happy one. But there will be plenty of others too.”

How to Beat the Honeymoon Blues

Pre-wedding:

  • Go to pre-wedding counseling or relationship counseling to discuss any issues you have, or anything you see coming up in the future in an open and comfortable forum. Ask all of the questions then – financial, family planning etc., so that you know what you are in for.
  • Try not to let your wedding consume your life, plan beyond the wedding and see it as the start of things, not the end. Continue your regular hobbies while you plan.
  • Book your honeymoon for a few weeks, or even months, after your wedding. It will feel great to have something to look forward to after the celebration is over.
  • Spend what you can afford on your wedding. Avoid getting into debt as much as possible by sticking rigidly to your budget. Think about the amount you would be comfortable with having spent once it’s all over, this might help you create a more realistic budget at the start of your wedding preparations.

Post-wedding:

  • Take to the internet – Set up an online blog to share your feelings. Writing it down acts as a type of therapy and is much better than burying feelings. Post on the WOL wedding forums to ask for help from other brides or just to talk about your wedding – the girls will be happy to get the advice and experience from someone who just went through it.
  • Set up a company – If you really got into everything wedding, and feel you were particularly good at it, think about using your passion and experience professionally by setting up a wedding-related business such as wedding planning, an online wedding store, graphic design for wedding stationery or anything else you have a flair for!
  • Start a new project – Redecorate a room, start learning a language, volunteer for a charity, try to extend your ‘wedding diet’ into getting really fit. Get yourself a healthy obsession that will take up your spare time and will give you something to talk passionately about like you did your wedding.

Main photo by Simply Bloom Photography

By Karen Birney

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Karen
Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.
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