Why does love change after marriage?

Why is no one talking about being so unhappy after the wedding?

Illustration: Louisa Cannell
"I don't think I've ever felt this shitty in my life," I said to my husband, who I was married to for just two months.
We sat at home, happily married, and I definitely had no intention of parting soon. And yet I had hit rock bottom in terms of my relationship. What was that?
In retrospect, I know that it was the beginning of a low mood that many people saw after their wedding euphoria. At the time, however, I wasn't aware of this, and so racked my mind.
Since the high season for weddings has officially ended with the onset of winter, I recognize this black hole in many of my newlywed friends. The endless #throwback posts, the need to get drunk and the sudden dissatisfaction with everything, the job, the living situation and the favorite person whom you have just said yes to. These are all symptoms of, say, wedding depression that really nobody prepares you for. An abysmal canyon, which is mainly accompanied by the question “What now?”. Incidentally, this question feels particularly bad when the answer is, like me, "Definitely no babies".
Psychologist Emma Kenny tells me this is an experience that very, very many newlyweds go through. But why is no one warning us then ?!
“There is this day, which will hopefully be infinitely beautiful, then usually the honeymoon follows, a flicker that lasts for a few more weeks, but then that’s about the romance. Then everything will be back to normal, ”explains Kenny. “Many people sincerely believe that a wedding will change their lives significantly. Usually only the name changes, if at all, so expectations often have to be scaled back retrospectively. "

Am I glad that all the stress was over now? The answer is no.

Being married was never a conscious goal. Until my late twenties, I was actually rather averse. But then this man came along, I fell in love, he was great, one day pulled the ring out of his pocket and I reflexively said yes. 18 months later we celebrated our wedding, in a small group and incredibly beautiful, in my parents' garden. However, the relaxation that I had expected from myself did not materialize. Not before, not during and also not after the wedding. Planning the celebration had taken over my life for months - and I liked it! Suddenly I had something to do in every spare minute, I had a goal, something I was working towards, an unprecedented motivation to hit the gym.
When I think back now, it doesn't surprise me that I felt so lost and disoriented when the wedding was over. I suddenly had an incredible amount of time, my life was just the same as it was before the proposal. There was nothing left to acutely work towards - so what should I do with myself?
"Aren't you glad that all the stress is over now?" I was asked over and over again. The answer was no.
I didn't go to sports that much anymore. We had spent all of our money and so we couldn't travel for the time being. Every decision, every conflict that I had postponed to "after the wedding" before the wedding suddenly caught up with me and overran me. A wedding can become an organizational colossus, but it is also the best excuse to leave everything else behind.
"Just like falling in love, a wedding can work like a cure," says Kenny in an interview. “She is able to numb numerous symptoms for a long time. So if you are actually dissatisfied with your life or isolated aspects, then such a wedding can be a really effective red herring. It suppresses any frustration and the newly gained freedom is occupied positively. But when the planning is over and the wedding is celebrated, many experience a rather cold withdrawal. "
For me, this need for something new manifested itself in the fact that in a short circuit I looked for a new job, which I also hated after a short time. For others, this post-matrimonial low leads to other skipping acts ranging from children to alcohol problems.
Alina, who got married in 2010, sees it similarly and remembers: “Without the task of planning my wedding, I was suddenly empty. Something I didn't expect from married life. But there I was, with expectations that weren't met - how could I? So I started partying and drinking excessively, feeling worse every day. Weddings take up so much emotional and physical power that you forget what everyday life was like before. You get out of balance. "
Laura, a friend who got married this summer, also confirms my thesis: After the wedding, she and her partner immediately started looking for an apartment, they want to buy a dog and Laura would like to change jobs. Suddenly everything feels like the air is out, she says. "And then the question also arises: If that was the most beautiful day of my life, what will come next?"
Kenny has very direct advice here: qualify expectations in good time.
“We find ourselves constantly at odds with our expectations. They almost never correspond to reality. We wish the world were safer, more peaceful, more romantic. But it is not. Not even after a wedding. Reality can be disproportionately disappointing at such moments, ”notes Kenny. "Our normality isn't suddenly worse or worse, it's just not what we expected it to be."
Kenny also points out that many are unaware of the huge commitment that marriage is. Little changes in everyday life, but on the whole they do.
"Adult play stops and adulthood begins," she says. “You keep trying to tell yourself that nothing is going to change, but suddenly there are two of you in this scenario, which has a huge number of consequences if something goes wrong. So it's no wonder that it can also be scary. "
To avoid this low, Kenny advises you to make plans for afterwards as part of your wedding planning. “Joint projects or visions for the future should not end with the honeymoon. Set goals, talk about your hopes, work together to implement them. "
But if you are in it, I fear that only time will help. But I can encourage you: The wedding memories go from fresh, still tangible moments into romantic nostalgia and you develop a new normal. The reality of married life seeps through only gradually, like water into a sponge that soaks up very slowly. You have to be patient, but in the end you are more fulfilled than before.
The way to get there can be made much easier through open discussions, advises Kenny. “Talk about it, articulate what you feel, when you feel it. After all, that's what marriage is for. "
In addition, healthy habits should continue to be observed. "Before the wedding, sport made you happy not only because you could fit into your dream dress, but because sport actually makes you happy by releasing happiness hormones and triggering processes in the body that contribute to general well-being," says Kenny. So you shouldn't just stop with that either.
“But the most important thing is to explore your passions and approach them together. Concentrate on realizing your dream projects and how you can bring your visions together, because common projects will strengthen you, ”Kenny concludes.
I would just like to add one more thing to this: Be indulgent with yourselves. One might persuade yourself that not much has actually changed, but it is a major transition period in which we as individuals have to recalibrate. It's not always easy, so take your time and be good to yourself. Because believe me, I'm knee-deep in my third year of marriage and I'm telling you everything will be fine.