Have you ever experienced "cruise crash?" That's when you get back from a cruise -- or any vacation, really -- and experience a massive letdown back in the real world. You've just had an unbelievable trip, but instead of being happy you went, you're just miserable that you're back home.
Wedding crash works the same way. Except the crash is more intense, and there can be ramifications for your new marriage.
What is wedding crash? Some people call it the "post-wedding blues." It's the overwhelming sense of loss some newly married couples (or one half of the couple, usually the bride) experience when all of the months, and in some cases years, of planning that one big day come to fruition, and the deed is done. Everything is finished and over with after one highly-anticipated weekend, and it's time to return to real life, without a wedding to look forward to.
Brides who have spent their whole lives dreaming about their wedding often feel a letdown when everything is over and done, and the wedding gown has been sent to the drycleaners for preservation. Suddenly, although not without warning, everything URGENT on the "Must Do" list is real life. All the same shit, different day tasks she's been putting off because she was so busy wedding planning make their way to the top of the list. Like it or not, it's a case of back to life, back to reality. And some people have a very emotional reaction to that.
You might be thinking that it's not a big deal, and anybody boohooing about the fact their day in a princess dress is over should thank her lucky stars that she doesn't have real problems to worry about - and to some extent, you're right. But there are couples who have real relationship struggles early on when they're trying to make that big transition from "engaged" to "married."
Whether you lived together before you got married, or you're trying to merge two households after the wedding, there is an adjustment that comes after saying "I do." Sure, you may have dreamed of a terrific future together when you were dating and engaged. But once you've got a wedding ring on your finger, everything you do may impact your spouse. Financial, familial, and health concerns become yours, mine and ours, rather than his or hers.
If the biggest thing going on in your lives for months on end was planning the actual wedding, couples may find themselves at loose ends afterwards, or overwhelmed coping with everything they put off dealing with in the months leading up to the wedding. It can even result in clinical depression, in the most extreme cases.
I contacted Dr. Jane Greer, relationship expert and marriage counselor, to find out whether I was making a big deal out of nothing, or if my concerns about WEDDING CRASH were well founded. Unfortunately, she confirmed all of my suspicions.
"It's real because of all the energy that's invested into the big event -- mental energy in fantasizing how it's going to be, your excitement and dreams, plus all the hands-on work. Once the day passes, there can be a tremendous letdown because your energy is completely dissipated. You can suddenly feel like you hit a brick wall at 100 miles an hour. Suddenly, after all this build-up, it's all over," Dr. Greer says.
She has all sorts of little tips and good advice for ways that couples who spent a lot of time planning their wedding together can channel that energy into other things they have in common, and other activities they mutually enjoy. You can listen to my podcast for some suggestions on how newly married brides and grooms can learn to bond in new ways once they're married, including making a point to refer to each other as "husband" and "wife." At first, it does feel a little weird. Even if you were one of those brides who changed her email address long before the change was legal.
"Couples should keep in mind the fact that the wedding is the beginning of their life together, not an event that is an end unto itself," Dr. Greer says. "They can plan things they can look forward to and anticipate -- shopping for furniture, going on their honeymoon, taking a weekend away, calling each other 'Mr. and Mrs.', etc. Focus on the perks of being married and begin to do those things."
Knowing that post-wedding blues do exist can give couples a leg up, so that they're prepared for the changes when they get home from their honeymoon. If you expect that you may be a little bummed, you can plan to do some fun things together in the first weeks of marriage. Certainly, you have to catch up at work, pay the bills, and write thank you notes for all the lovely gifts you've received. But that doesn't preclude you from planning special trips or get-togethers with people you truly enjoy. It's about having something to look forward to and focus on, more than anything.
If you've recently tied the knot and you've been beating yourself up for feeling down in the dumps, stop it! Acknowledge that your feelings are real, and then take steps to pull yourself out of your funk. Instead of mourning the fact that your wedding is over, celebrate the exciting new things that married life will bring. Keep it all in perspective.
And if all else fails, start planning your vow renewal for your 10th wedding anniversary.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!