People talk about the post-wedding blues, that uncomfortable crash back to reality in which all your friends are no longer surrounding you and you have approximately two thousand thank you notes to write. In my head, I downplayed this phenomenon. We weren’t taking a honeymoon because of work constraints, so, I reasoned, we wouldn’t have been gone from “real life” long enough to be disturbed by returning to it. Two days and one thousand mile drive after our wedding, we were home. Well, I was home. My now-husband (how strange that word felt!) left at six the next morning to work on a job site a few hundred miles away. When one month came and went and he was still on that job site, I admitted to myself that post-wedding blues were a real thing.
Strange symptoms of these blues began appearing. I started talking to my dog about my feelings a lot. I stayed late at work. For once in my life, I was caught up on the mindless TV shows that I used to only watch every other week. I threw my clothes on the floor because I knew he wouldn’t be home to be bothered by them. This was not how I imagined newlywed life going.
The hardest thing to deal with was my internal monologue regarding how I was handling my de facto singleness. Hadn’t I spent a lot of years alone and self-sufficient? Hadn’t I cultivated friendships, pursued hobbies, and thrown myself into work before? My husband and I had a long-distance relationship for almost two years. I have the best memories of those two years, filled with frequent phone conversations and longing, yes, but also ski trips and wine nights with friends and a ridiculous amount of time spent watching The Bachelor with my roommates. I suddenly felt ashamed of my co-dependence, a trait I had secretly judged in other couples’ relationships. I was becoming one of those people.
To compensate for my internal weaknesses, I played off my husband’s absence to friends and co-workers. “We’re used to it,” I said airily, shrugging off another week’s passage without him coming home. What was the alternative? To admit that I missed him terribly and felt the color had gone out of everything just a little? To be jealous of other couples’ weekend getaways to see the aspens change in the Rockies, wishing we could have gone on one last camping trip before the first snow? No way. I am tough and independent and all those other things I want my little sisters to be.
During the last week of my husband’s absence, I chopped wood for the fireplace and went on solo hikes and ate cookies off the pan for dinner. I let the dog take up two-thirds of the bed, his legs luxuriously stretched out as far as he could reach them. I didn’t shave my legs. I cleaned out the chicken coop, a job my husband had pinky-promised he would always take care of. I tried my best to be okay with being alone. I wasn’t, really. I still hung up the phone after talking to him every night feeling a little letdown to be going to bed alone again. I still felt sorry for myself when my car broke and he wasn’t there to come pick me up. When he finally returned, I was almost as excited to see him as the dog (who pretty much threw his back out doing flips). And I tried—I’m still trying—to reconcile that independent, self-sufficient girl I had always believed myself to be with the woman who said, “Oh good, you’re home. The bathroom sink is broken, and I’ve been brushing my teeth in the kitchen.”
Photo by Newell Jones + Jones Photography