What Happens when the Wedding is over and the Marriage begins
What happens when the wedding is over? Does society prepare you for marriage? Doesn’t marriage just end with the happily ever after? That is what society would have us believe with the movies and stories we read but what is happily ever after? We know half of the population isn’t experiencing this as about half of marriages now end in divorce. Being married June 2014 I started to ask myself the questions above and I started to recognize that there is no good example of what creates the happy marriage. Being a couple’s therapist I know the essence of what creates a happy marriage but there is no blueprint to follow to assure it is reached; each couple’s definition of happiness is something different.
I started to reflect on what has happened in my own life six months after the wedding ceremony was done. Initially there was an overwhelming sense of relief. Finally, no more planning, no more checks to write, no more wedding decisions. Now it could be just the two of us enjoying life. But then soon after the honeymoon was over I was surprised by lingering feelings of sadness. Why was I experiencing sadness? Isn’t this the moment I have been waiting for? I had spent the last year meticulously planning this huge event and I was excited for the event to be done. Then it hit me, it was this lingering feeling of what do I do now.
The big event is done and what do I prepare for next? It was this overwhelming sense that I should be doing something but I didn’t know what that something was. I confided in some newly married friends and I discovered that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Other women were experiencing it but didn’t know that it was normal. What was this sadness we were all experiencing? When you are preparing for a wedding most of your time and energy goes into every detail to make sure it goes perfectly. The focus is on the wedding (ceremony and party), not what comes after (real married life). While celebrating the event of marriage is important, it is also important to recognize and celebrate what the wedding stands for: A lifetime of love, support, and happiness. Even I, the couple’s therapist, lost sight of the real purpose during the process. I became all consumed in the wedding event. If I got lost in the wedding how many others have forgotten about the marriage that follows?
I knew the conversations that we should have to prepare for marriage. My husband and I had engaged in all of them: finances, household, roles, extended family, balance, sexuality, future goals, dreams, and children. I had assured we were prepared for the marriage and what was to come after the wedding. Yet even with all of those critical conversations a sense of loss occurred for me after the honeymoon had ended. There was this overwhelming feeling that I should preparing for the next step. But then what even is the next step?
Then I paused and thought, I started to realize that there doesn’t need to be a next step. Instead it is about enjoying the moments that my husband and I are sharing right now. Remembering to put the focus on the relationship first is the purposeful connection every day. From eating dinner together at the table to the evening walks around the neighborhood, these connective moments are what make memories. There does not have to be a plan of what is next. Instead it is focusing on the present moment. I find that American culture is obsessed with productivity and we do not allow ourselves to enjoy life. If the productive future is the focus we miss the moments we have right now. I find myself stuck in this dilemma all the time. My husband has been a great at reminding me to relax and be present, and when I am, I enjoy my relationship and life much more. But it is a difficult position to be in when society constantly drives us to accomplish the next big thing. But in the process we miss out some of the best things that are happening right now.
Instead of putting the focus on what the next step is after the wedding I have allowed myself me to be present in our relationship right now. The moments that we are making today are going to be the start of our story. We should enjoy them before the story has to change. When I get too focused on the future goals I miss the opportunities that are present right now. I want to encourage my readers to remember the same. Enjoy the moments you have now and worry less about those future goals. Now keep in mind some future planning in necessary. But instead of it becoming the main focus, create a balance of the now and what you want in the future. Because you might miss something great happening right now right in front of you!