Welcome to The First Years of Marriage Newsletter! We talk about the conversations, challenges, and changes that begin once the honeymoon ends. Advice from experts, mistakes from me (Jen Glantz), and things you’re going to want to know as you continue to ask yourself this question - “I’m married, so now what?”
“Love is one long sweet dream and marriage is the alarm clock!” — Zeenat Essa
When I realized my entire body wasn't going to fit in the dirty clothes basket, I decided to lie flat on the carpet and dump the entire thing on top of me.
There's no better place to hide than underneath a giant pile of smelly, soggy, and stained belongings that nobody in the house is eager to pay any attention to.
I didn't want anyone to pay attention to me. I just wanted to sulk in my own misery.
Before I could even ask myself this question, a good friend called me up the morning after my wedding, and clawed the words onto my life's to-do list.
"You are married. What is next?"
What she was really saying was, "Jen, how soon can you have a child?" and even though I wanted to hang up the phone, It’s bad karma to hang up the phone on a best friend, even if the conversation makes me huffy.
"I don't know! Maybe we'll plan a trip? Look for a bigger apartment? Open up a joint bank account?"
"Okay..." she responded, stretching the word like gum stuck between two fingers.
The truth was, I didn't know how to answer that question. I didn't have a game plan for what was next. Sure, the song goes "first comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes a baby..." but I wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready for anything else to change in my life right now.
Two things happen right after you get married that nobody warns you about:
First, people in your life ask you what's next, as if they are binging the sitcom of your life and are desperate to know when season two will air.
Second, you'll feel an overwhelming sense of emptiness, loneliness, and rolling depression.
You've just spent many months, or years, planning and preparing for a wedding that ended and a honeymoon that left you with a new stamp on your passport and a ton of dirty laundry.
What the Experts Have to Say:
In a 2018 study of 152 women, 12 percent reported feeling depressed after they tied the knot.
That feeling of loss and the struggle of what's next for you and your relationship is a real dilemma that needs some TLC (or at least the attention it deserves).
"[It] happens when couples experience a period of letdown following the excitement of planning the wedding," says Jocelyn Charnas, a clinical psychologist and premarital counselor. 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.
“Weddings, in particular can be stressful and can sometimes feel like a full-time job, so it can take some time to get back into the swing of your daily tasks,” explains Kelli Rugless, PsyD, from Thrive Psychology Group. “It’s important to remember, however, that most people report a decrease in depressive symptoms after marriage, so if the feelings seem to hang on you might need to reach out to a professional to sort your feelings out.”
REAL TALK: Post-Honeymoon Blues
Plan something to look forward to (1x a month)
Open the calendar and pick three things you can look forward to this month - from dinners at your favorite spot to a Sunday afternoon adventure. Big things aren't all we need to plan in our lives. A series of small wins makes all the difference.
Think about how you'll spend your new free time
Look at your life right now! You have so much free time now that you're not calling vendors and browsing Pinterest for a wedding color scheme. How will you use that time? Is there a new project you want to conquer (hello, messy closet) or do you want to work on leveling up your career? What would you do with a ton of free time? Good, you have it! Now go do it.
Learn a new skill, hobby, or passion
Remember when you said you wanted to learn how to sew or start that side hustle? How about that podcast? Dive into something new that eats up your time but helps you grow as a human. Just because you are married doesn't mean you can't evolve or change. You have to do those things or you will feel like a stale piece of bread that's been sitting still for too long.
4.Sit in the dirty laundry and process
Don't apologize for feeling this way. Feel this way for as long as you need to. Sit in the silence and in the boredom, in the confusion and in the emptiness. Let yourself think and imagine, daydream and sulk. Something will come from this moment. Avoid social media if you can. It will make you sit underneath that pile of sweaty sports bras for way longer than needed.
More Resources to Hug Hello
Adam eventually found me underneath a pile of over worn jeans and sweatpants, with a pair of socks covering my forehead.
He didn't ask me why I was hiding or why the laundry was all over me.
He simply said, "Who cares what is next? Let's just figure out what's next for us today, just today."
He grabbed my hand and lifted me off the floor and while you might think this is some lovely ending where we run forward into our lives as a happily married couple with no problems, conversations, or loud sidewalk fights, then you are wrong.
Welcome to The First Years of Marriage newsletter where we get really real about life as a newlywed after you said I DO and have no idea what to do...next.
Love you (for as long as we both shall live),