Between You and Me

Why some relationships work—and others don't

Wedding Bell Blues: Dealing with Post-Wedding Depression

Why women suffer from postnuptial blues and how to avoid them.

Are you suffering from post-wedding blues?
You’ve been planning your wedding for months, possibly even years. The big day came, it was magical, and now it is over. Perhaps you think you should be in a state of newlywed bliss, but instead you are finding yourself feeling a little blue. If that is the case, you are not alone. One in ten women experience depression in the first year of marriage, and the number of couples seeking post-nuptial counseling is on the rise. What is leading newlywed couples to experience this post-wedding let down?

Researchers Allison Scott and Laura Stafford interviewed a group of newlywed women to try to answer just this question. Scott and Stafford found that all of the women reported feeling bored post-wedding; They had funneled all of their time and energy into planning their big day, and now they weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. But, being bored did not necessarily mean being blue. Some women acknowledged that they felt a little bored, but were not depressed. Other women were bored and depressed. So what distinguished these two groups of women? Blue brides viewed their weddings as the end goal. In contrast, happy brides viewed their weddings as the start of a new chapter.  

So while they all were experiencing a bit of post-wedding let down, the happy brides were beginning to turn their focus onto the next chapter of their lives. The blue brides, however, felt uncertain about their goals now that the big event they had been planning for was over. These women reported that the uncertainty they experienced post-wedding bled over into other areas of their lives. They began to feel uncertain about their relationships and even their own identities. Who were they now that their wedding was over? They had been so focused on the big day that they hadn’t planned for what would happen next.

So, for those of you who are not yet engaged, or are just beginning the process, keep remembering that your wedding is the beginning of a new chapter, and not your ultimate goal. Everyone’s experiences are different, but here are a few suggestions to help keep your focus beyond your big day.

Have No-Wedding-Talk Wednesdays during your engagement. Talking about your wedding plans is fun, exciting, and necessary. But by restricting wedding talk a few nights a month, and spending time talking about and doing non-wedding things together, you’ll be sure to maintain some normalcy in your relationship. This may help you ease back into real life post-wedding.

Plan past the wedding. For every five pictures that go in your wedding inspiration folder, put a couple fun (and relaxing!) vacations, new recipes, or weekend date night ideas into a post-wedding folder. Everyone experiences some let down post-wedding, but if you’ve given yourself things to look forward to, you may be more excited about the next step.

First comes marriage. Then what?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/psycho-pics/4785347028/sizes/m/in/photostream/
After the wedding happens:

Know you are not alone. According to psychologists, post-wedding blues are very common. Don't feel like there is something wrong with you if you are feeling bored and a bit down after your wedding. 

Don’t dwell on the depressionRuminating about problems only makes depression worse. If you are feeling blue after your wedding, recognize it for what it is and don’t let the depression cloud your feelings about other areas of your life. Instead, find something new to be excited about: plan a party with your friends and put your new china to use or finally start that new hobby you’ve been putting off. 

Alert your spouse that you’re blue. If you are moping around the house looking like Eeyore when your spouse is expecting wedded bliss, that could leave both of you concerned about the state of your relationship. Letting your spouse know that you are just feeling let down after all the wedding festivities can take the blame off of your spouse and help him or her be supportive.

If you are married, do you think you saw your wedding as an end goal or the beginning of a new chapter? Are you, or have you, experienced post-wedding blues? What did you do to make yourself feel better? What worked, what didn't?

Amie M. Gordon, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral scholar in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

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