Three Years Later

On Tuesday my partner and I celebrate three years of marriage.

I want to say it’s been all rainbows and unicorn farts, but it hasn’t.  Well, there have been farts, but not those of the unicorn variety.  It’s been…loving and supportive and stable and hilarious and the kind of tenderness that brings one to tears.  But it’s also been the biggest challenge in our relationship since moving out of state and having a kid and basically having our whole world flipped upside down.  And now we’re about to flip it once again with baby number two.  Woo-boy.  I’m sure glad I have him by my side for all this.

But enough about our marriage.  The anniversary gets us thinking about our wedding and all the bittersweet feelings that go with it.  I blogged about it (read it here) to help me cope at the time and then the post got Freshly Pressed, which I initially had mixed feelings about.  On one hand, getting recognized for my writing is always nice, but I was worried that the feedback I got would just make me feel worse.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad and I felt so validated knowing that many, many other people felt similar letdowns as a result of their weddings.  My comment section became a big virtual group therapy session.  We shared horror stories and shared what helped make us feel better.  I thanked people for reading and supporting and commenting.  People thanked me for writing because it made them feel less invalidated, less sad, less alone.  I am glad that I wrote what I wrote.

What interests me now, and what prompted me to write about this again, is that that blog post has been by far my most popular post.  To this day – almost three full years later – it still gets about 3-10 hits a day, on average.  Every day.  And occasionally, people still comment with their own stories.

It makes me feel so sad when I read what people have Googled to get themselves to my wedding blog post.  Things like, “my wedding was a disaster,” and “I can’t get over how my wedding went,” or “I’m depressed about my wedding.”  This sucks!  Part of me feels validated because, again, I am definitely not alone in how I feel about my wedding.  However, part of me feels like a sucker.  I fell for the whole wedding-industrial complex.  I got wrapped up around expectations that were handed to me (and that I readily accepted) by society, spent a hell of a lot of money, put tons of eggs into the basket of one blissful day, only to have it crash down all around me. What does this say about our society that this post-wedding blues phenomenon is so common?!

Would I do things differently?  A few, but not many.  I admit, even now, I still just wanted the fun, expensive party that I could enjoy with all my friends and family.

In the months following my wedding, I responded to the many comments readers posted.  Some were unsolicited advice (one of my least favorite kinds of feedback), others were words of sympathy and encouragement, and many were similar horror stories.  Because I was going through my own grieving process, I found it difficult to respond to others who were suffering as I was. Reading those comments brought up my own yucky feelings that I was still wading through (or trying to forget – depending on the day) and it was uncomfortable.  It stung.  Each new story was a reminder that I’d always look back on that day with some amount of sadness, grief, regret.  Even today, a random comment that gets posted brings it all back, just a little bit.

While responding to these comments, I found myself wanting to slip into a therapist role as I typed.  Of course, that role feels natural to me, and it also protected me because it created distance between myself and my feelings.  Now that I am much more at peace with how my wedding went and how I feel about it, reading and answering the comments is easier.  Easier, but not pain-free.

My brother made us a wonderful video from the raw footage a relative took at our wedding, and only recently did my husband and I muster up enough courage to actually watch it, almost three years after the day.  Of course it brought back some of the yucky feelings.  The grief.  But.  It also reminded me that I actually managed to have fun that day.  And the ceremony was wonderfully moving.  And I looked beautiful.  And we were so in love.  I couldn’t deny it – the proof was right there on camera!  Whew.

In all the discussion with readers about how to heal and move on from these experiences, we often talked about having a do-over.  A “corrective experience” as therapists put it.  I pictured the two of us on a beach in Hawaii with an officiant and a photographer.  No one else.  I have flowers in my hair.  The wind is whipping my white cotton sundress around.  The sun is setting.  We’re laughing and holding hands.  And no one can take away our joy.

Maybe someday.  I say maybe, because I don’t want to get too hung up on expectations.



18 responses

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I have always felt guilty for not feeling like my wedding was “the best day of my life” like all of my friends do. I have always felt bad for feeling this way as family contributed money for my day and people came from afar to celebrate but to be honest part of me wishes I never had one from dramas with guest lists (I wanted small wedding mother in law wanted big wedding), disappointment of people leaving at 8pm to having regrets of having one to many wines at the end of the night and little other things. I have felt guilt of not gushing to everyone how wonderful and magical I thought my wedding was because I didn’t feel it was. And I think the worst my husband was quiet happy to not get married and I wanted to do he did it for me and now i have so many regrets of the day. Thanks for your post I’ve always made myself feel guilty for feeling this way about my wedding but now I see it is quiet common.

  2. Thanks for the follow up. I feel less alone after reading this and your other post about the wedding. We have such unrealistic expectations about weddings and marriage, that they’re magical things that will sprinkle fairy dust on our lives. All those glossy wedding magazines certainly make it seem this way. But I’ve come to realize that weddings and marriage are, well, just like anything else in life, with peaks and valleys, ups and downs.

    In a few years time I think I’ll also be at peace and on the whole…I’ll always relish my wedding. Because through all the joy and disappointments, ups and downs, I gained my best friend for life.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I read both stories and this 3yrs later is where I hope to be sooner than later. My story is a bit different as in I can’t remember my whole wedding day. No meds or alcohol, I just blacked out the moment I woke up and saw it raining so hard and heard on the news that it would be flooding. Also we had a new neighbors that moved in, found out it was a same sex wedding so he came out and started yelling about how we were bull dike bleeps , the c word, and were going to hell. I do remember the cops showing up and shutting the while thing down at 7pm and we had just started at 5pm. My poor wife doesn’t understand and I feel so horrible for feeling this way. I love her so much. We waited 15yrs for it to be legal for us to marry and I don’t remember anything. I’m sorry if this makes you feel sad about ur day. I just wish the real me would have been present cause I would have danced the night away in the rain with this woman!

    • Geez- having the cops shut it down and a neighbor shouting obscenities – that’s the worst! I’m so sorry that happened to you. Maybe you can create new memories with some sort of renewal…

    • Oh wow, I have no words of wisdom or magic wand here…but just wanted to say I’m so sorry you went through that, after waiting 15 years for that moment. That stupid neighbor doesn’t know what love is and I hope you find lots of other occasions to dance the night away with your wife!

  4. I have just come across your post about your wedding day experience. I feel comforted but sad that others have felt and are still feeling the same as I am about a wedding day, “the most special day of your life”.
    I got married last year and there were so many things that didn’t happen as I had imagined, misbehaved guests, a couple of upset guests, in-experienced wedding co-ordinator, lateness with food, a close relative that had a fall and had to be taken to hospital, a pendant necklace that had come off and been stamped on on the dance floor, that’s all off the top of my head. Looking back at the photos (that I’m not too impressed with) and the wedding box of decorations makes my insides flip. I feel cheated and feel that my friends don’t understand how difficult the day was for me. Yes it’s the marriage that’s important but the wedding celebration, as you mention, is what we too wanted. A chance to be with the close friends and family to have a good time. It was really hard work and no-one else understands unless you’ve experienced the genuine loss of a dream wedding day. It’s terrible to say isn’t it that you mourn for a day you didn’t have but this how we feel. I’m thinking about seeing a counsellor but came across your post first and thought I’d start by sharing my day in writing with you.
    Congratulations on your little family and your anniversary.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I feel better just knowing someone out there understands.

  5. HI Melissa :) I have read both your posts “Post Wedding Blues” and “Three Years Later.” They really struck a chord with me. I would like to know, do you feel as time goes on, that it gets easier with other big “life events” that happen? Does it put things in perspective about the wedding day when there are other life milestones ahead of you and/or as time passes?
    We were married in August 2016 and felt really down for awhile about things that didn’t “go right.” I feel better now that more time has passed but would like to know if you feel it is true that time heals all wounds. Also, we are currently trying to conceive and it’s got me wondering whether having a child will help put my wedding feelings in perspective.

    Thank you!!

    • Yes, I do believe that time helps give perspective, but I don’t believe that time “heals all wounds.” As a therapist, I believe some mental and emotional work needs to happen around any trauma before someone is going to feel differently about it.
      I don’t know if a child will change things for you about your wedding. For me, it certainly made my wedding feel less important. And having kids has given my marriage the hardest challenge it’ll probably ever have, so I’ve had to focus on that instead.
      I hope that helps, thanks for commenting!

  6. Thanks for sharing both your blogs. I read your first one because I am praying for healing and woke up today for some random reason, in tears because of my wedding. And all I wanted to know is how to heal from this pain. So I think gratitude, gratitude, and I text my husband and ask him to pray for me as well. Well I say all this to say, thank you for Sharing! It truly helped.

  7. Pingback: Post wedding blues | Psychobabble

  8. OH my God ! That is exactly the kind of makeover wedding I have been envisioning for myself. We are also going to be 3 years old in our married journey this December and we have a baby on the way. I still can’t get over the wedding disappointment. It’s come to a point where the mere mention of the day makes my husband leave the room. It wasn’t a horrible wedding and maybe to others there couldn’t be anything wrong with it. But I was so deeply crushed. I guess it had more to do with the fact that I really didn’t know my husband like I know him now. I think I had an idea of a partner in my head and things I was secretly hoping he would do but they never happened. I have also learned the hard way not to get hopes up because it leads to so much disappointment and remorse.

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