What Causes The Post-Wedding Blues — & How To Avoid Them

By Dr. Tim Loving

We experience an enormous amount of pressure when planning that "special day." And it makes sense — getting married is a big deal! But all that pressure and buildup can come with a cost.

In a recent study, researchers interviewed 28 married women and asked them about their weddings and how they felt after getting married. The women were about 26 years old on average, mostly white, were in their first marriages, and had been married for about half a year at the time of the study. Through intensive interviews and a survey, the researchers identified the women who were experiencing sadness or depression following their weddings versus those who were relatively happy. They then compared the interview responses of these two groups of freshly minted spouses and found three primary differences between “blue” brides and happy brides.

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
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Blue brides, compared to happy brides, were far more likely to view the wedding as “my day” and all about what they wanted. On their wedding days, these brides had been focused on not letting anything stand in the way of getting what they wanted. In fact, some of the blue brides even referred to their guests as “intruders” — people who were mucking up “my day.” In contrast, happy brides saw the wedding as a celebration for everyone, and were more concerned for and considerate about the measures others took in order to be there. Happy brides also viewed the wedding as simply a step or formality — their focus was on life after the wedding.

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Blue brides were more uncertain about what life and marriage had in store for them after the wedding. They were unsure of how they were supposed to behave as a spouse/wife, worried about whether they made a mistake by marrying in the first place, and weren’t sure about whether their expectations for married life were realistic. Happy brides did not report this uncertainty.

Not surprisingly, blue brides, given their “me” focus on wedding day, see the conclusion of the wedding itself as an ending, whereas happy brides saw the wedding as the beginning of the rest of their lives. Blue brides view the end of their weddings as a loss rather than a gain, which is not a particularly promising way to start a marriage.
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Of course, it's important to note that this study involved a very small sample of recently married women, and that sample wasn’t ethnically, racially, or geographically diverse in any way. As with all studies involving small samples, we have to consider the results in light of the specific people interviewed; a larger, more diverse sample would certainly provide a more representative and accurate picture of things. Still, this study's results are consistent with what we know about why people become depressed in general.

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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
If you’re getting married and want to avoid any post-wedding blues, what should you do? First, talk to your partner about marriage, and be open and honest about your expectations. And if you have doubts now, you might consider why that is and take the time to figure things out before proceeding. Second, all relationships are better when they have the support and involvement of others. Celebrate your marriage, but do so with your friends and family. Remember that they will be an important part of your life going forward, and so the wedding really is as much for them to celebrate with you as it is to celebrate you (and your future spouse).

Finally, dig deep to determine whether you’re most excited about getting married or being married. If the former, then you should probably seek professional assistance to begin dealing with the obvious letdown you’ll experience once you no longer need that Pinterest board.

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