The first year of marriage is the hardest, I’d been told many times by my friends. While I wasn’t sure if I was prepared for the uncertain road that lay ahead, I certainly felt like I’d gotten fair warning and couldn’t expect to be surprised by the challenges that would come once I entered marriage. Once the wedding is over, it’s the two of you, making a life together, and that’s not easy for anyone.
So, I felt ready to encounter squabbles and misunderstandings and the taking-for-granted that comes when you know someone really well and expect to be around them for a long time. When something came up, I could tell myself, “OK, this is normal.”
But there were some other parts of newlywed life that bummed me out, stuff that I never thought would have mattered to me … until it did.
I was so focused on my wedding that once it passed, I felt lost. There was no focal point on the horizon anymore. This panicked me. Was I incapable of being at peace in my new life, or was I going to feel restless and upset forever without having something major to look forward to? Getting up, getting dressed, and going to work felt so blah, especially as fall turned into winter and the days grew darker. I hated this funk because it seemed like such a cliche. I’d heard that brides feel let down after their weddings, and I’d always thought that sounded like a symptom of spoiled princess disease. “Waah, your wedding’s over, people aren’t looking at you anymore, waaah.” Since I’d told myself it wouldn’t happen to me, I felt like a jerk when it did. Nothing makes a depressed person feel worse than thinking, “My depression is so stupid.” Then I’d feel bad for feeling sad, since Steve deserved a happy new wife, not a scowling crab, and I’d feel worse. “I just want you to be happy,” he’d say, and I’d want to cry.
The Identity Crisis
I couldn’t help but feel—well, there’s no other way to say it than this—old and irrelevant. I was MARRIED. Not that I’d been famous for my clubbing days or renowned for hooking up with lots of single men, but this meant that even the possibility of all that was over. Officially, I was no longer a mademoiselle. I was married. Like my mom.
Maybe I had a problem with admitting that I’m irrevocably a woman, not a girl anymore. I’m not trying to sound like Britney Spears, trust me, but I felt like the end of girlhood meant the end of potential, possibilities, spontaneity. It meant I was out of the system. Never cool again (was I ever to begin with?). Nothing to look forward to other than wrinkles, my parents getting old, babies, and messes.
Who was I? I was no longer eligible. I’m was no longer dreaming of that big finale. Everything felt different, and yet not.
I’m not sure why, but there was a handful of friends who fell off the face of the earth after I invited them to my wedding. After chasing down their negative RSVP’s, I never heard from them again. Maybe they were embarrassed about not being able to afford to fly out for the wedding, but I couldn’t understand why that wouldn’t merit an email, “Hi, how are you?” A Facebook poke. Something. I’m probably reading too much into it, but I got a “She’s just not that into you vibe” from the whole situation. I overstepped the bounds of our friendship by inviting them; now the friendship was DOA.
I was ready to let myself go a bit after the wedding. After all, in the weeks leading up to it, I’d been going to the gym seven days a week, working with a trainer on three of those days, tanning, getting facials, whitening my teeth. I was more than willing to surrender some of those tasks. It took longer than I’d anticipated to even want to start really taking care of myself again, and then it was spurred on by my clothes getting a little tight, which, of course, made me feel down. We need a pudgy depressed wife in aisle one, please.
The Things That Aren’t So Fun to Pay For Once It’s All Said and Done
It cost me $400 to get my gown cleaned (and I’m talking cleaned, not preserved), and more than I’d care to admit to get an album of the photos made. When you’re swept up in the wedding madness, things like hair and makeup and facials all seem totally natural and necessary to pay for, but once the day has passed, it hurts to continue to pony up. Yes, I know I could have done these things more cheaply, but I didn’t.
Now, a little over three months later, I feel better about all this stuff. Heading to someone else’s wedding, attaining a degree of professional fulfillment, and getting through the holidays helped shake me out of the funk, as did hanging out with my good friends (which I didn’t have time to do much of before the wedding). They reminded me that I’m the same girl—er, woman I was a year ago, but with an extra ring on my finger. I got a new kick-ass, encouraging personal trainer, and I’m starting to realize that I wasn’t talking to those old friends that much before the wedding to begin with, and apparently, they have lives of their own. Who knew?
Had I known more about the post-wedding blues, I still might not have been able to stave them off, but if I’d known that was normal, I might have cut myself some slack.
Original by Claire Zulkey