Why I Freaked Out After My Wedding
I will set the scene for you.
Our wedding night was last night.
We are on a plane to paradise for the honeymoon.
I look at her on my right and I cry.
I have written a number of captions and blogs that describe how much I love Dani. She is my best friend and will be for the rest of our lives. I even wrote a blog post about how much I hated the period of anticipation leading up to the wedding ceremony called “engagement.” But when the day finally came, the planning was over, the questions of “if I was ready” stopped pouring in, the dancing was done, and the limo doors closed I realized my wedding was over.
What was I left with?
I was left with this big open door called the future and it all hit me as I looked to the right on the plane.
Dani had spent months receiving advice from her followers about how you are actually going to feel on your wedding day. They warned that it was not going to be the fairytale that is on repeat in her head because no moment could ever meet that expectation. They warned her to not get caught up in the details but to just simply enjoy the moment. Hundreds of people contacted her and let her know how she would probably feel before, during, and after. She would even share this wisdom with me at dinner or on our walks but I wouldn’t listen. My bravado was too thick to be anything but emotionally tough and stable for the rest of our lives after the ceremony.
I look at her on my right and cry.
There are never enough resources for how men are supposed to feel in certain situations. Maybe there are and I am part of the epidemic of ego that just simply ignores them until the situation becomes dire. No one talks to men about how they are supposed to feel the day after their wedding. I will step up to the plate and try and recap what I went through.
Before I looked to my right and cried, I purchased Southwest Airlines Wifi and started Googling. I was looking for answers about how I felt. “I love my wife but I feel scared after wedding,” I typed, and every combination of keywords in between there. Turns out that there is a thing that no one really talks about called Post Wedding Depression.
Here is how clinical pyschologist, Jocelyn Charnas describes it:
“[It] happens when couples experience a period of letdown following the excitement of planning the wedding. It seems counterintuitive that you might feel down after what’s meant to be the best day ever, but so many people experience highs and lows in life, especially after big events.”
I do not know where the men (and women) reading this are at in their wedding journey. Maybe you are six months out in which case I think that this is plenty of time for your emotional bootcamp. Since we are in the height of wedding season, some of you may be getting married tomorrow in which case a simple browse will still for sure help you not feel alone. Even if you are post-wedding and in the phase of depression, you can at least know you are not alone if Google has not already told you like I will.
Here are some pro-tips that I would highly recommend reading before your ceremony:
Dream for After the Wedding Instead of Just For The Wedding
Sometimes I feel like we spend so much time planning for this one day that we forget that this one day is only the start of a lifetime. What ends up happening is that everything we work toward for months as a couple is spent in a 24 hour period and then we do not know what the plan is after. When we graduate high school and college we typically have a plan. In fact, the ceremony is a mile-marker for our future plan. We spend months before applying to colleges and equivalent months interviewing for after college.
Falling prey to not devoting conversation and passion toward after the wedding is like walking out of a high school or college graduation and then Googling where to go to college or where to work the next day. It is going to inevitably leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. You don’t have to have it all together necessarily, but start submitting some dream and goals to one another. It’s the best for the transition for sure.
Tell your spouse how you are feeling
I turned my screen brightness to super low and would switch between browsers on the plane before I told Dani how I was feeling. I guess I just didn’t want to let her down which is a very natural response that I will have my whole life. I’d like to say that I came to the realization that we are one now and that it is selfish for me to experience the bad alone in the same way it would be the positive emotions. But it actually was the flight attendant acknowledging me as Dani’s husband for the first time that set me over the edge in fear and tears.
The minute that I told Dani she responded so well. She helped break down my confusion and what I was feeling, she shared with me the advice she had received, and she made me feel not alone. It’s a tough conversation and every spouse will react differently but I think it’s important that you share with your wife what you are going through. Just pad it as much as possible to help them understand it is not about them and your love for them. It is about what Jordan and Psychology Today described as a counterintuitive phenomenon.
Focus on a marriage you admire
It has been almost two months now since that day, but I think I have pinpointed what I was afraid of most that day. Have you ever looked at a married man or marriage and just said “man, I do not want to end up like that”. Most of us have “that guy” whether we like to admit it or not. “That guy” for me is someone who gave up on his dreams, let himself go, became cynical, and generally gave up. “That guy” to me is someone who used marriage as a haven to do so.
When that fear struck me, I was just focused on the wrong marriages. I would really advise that you and your spouse find a spouse and marriage that you admire. There is nothing like seeing a marriage that operates like God intended it to. It is something to aspire to and it will give you both a backdrop and a bearing on what true north should look like for you as a husband and couple. When you have something to gaze at like this then marriage isn’t the beginning of the end for you but it will empower you in life.
Don’t see the wedding as the end, see it as the beginning
According to Psychology Today, “Blue brides viewed their weddings as the end goal. In contrast, happy brides viewed their weddings as the start of a new chapter.” I’m sure it’s about the same for us, too. I remember being on the plane and thinking that this was basically going to be my last vacation ever. It’s hilarious to think about that now, but it was very real to me in that moment. All I saw was my future flash before my eyes and I couldn’t see married life being any better than our dating life. Society has this idea that after you get married you give up, you’ve achieved what is most important and you can stop trying so hard.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. I’d say your marriage would be a lot stronger if you chose not to dwell in that comfort state for too long. If you see it as the opportunity to fulfill your dreams alongside your favorite teammate, it’ll never be boring; it’ll never feel complacent.
It’s not a murder, it’s a merger
In general I was scared for a moment that marriage was going to murder every dream, ambition, and pursuit I wanted for myself as an individual. Realistically, it actually didn’t. It was a merger. It is kind of like when a two corporations merge. Typically this happens when the two companies are stronger together than they are apart, have kindred visions for the future, and similar values.
Marriage wasn’t a murder of all things I had envisioned for my life. It actually helped me give up the concepts of my life that were selfish and unnecessary for a much bigger life with someone who had her own identity and vision for life. It was like refining the worst parts of us and coming to the table to merge the best parts into one. Marriage is a merger and the sooner I realized that the more happy and hopeful I was about a bright and fun future again.
If you are feeling any or all of these things after your wedding day then just know that you aren’t alone.