When Lauren, Alyssa and I have our semi-monthly Skype meetings, sometimes we bring up wedding stuff that scares the bejezus out of Lauren, she-who-is-yet-to-be-wed. One of those things is our casual references to the post-wedding meltdown (which both Alyssa and I most had) which left Lauren looking a tiny bit panicked, and a tiny bit confused. Which brings us to this Ask Team Practical column, perhaps my favorite ever by Alyssa (not to set the bar high, or anything), so enjoy.
So I’ve been reading APW for many months now and my wedding is fast approaching (in 7 months, but whatever) and I have been seeing here and there about the phenomenon of the after wedding emotional unloading. What exactly is this? And what exactly happens? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but it’s nothing my mother has ever talked about (because she has a cold and shriveled emotionless heart) and I need to understand! Should I be anticipating it? Is it like an emotional flu? What brings it on? I’m a little excited and a little afraid. Advice! I need it!
Oh, honey. I feel you. And I hate to think that we wedding grads might be scaring the engaged out there, thinking that the moment your wedding is over, you become a nasty emotional wreck. A Wedding Meltdown is like Wedding Zen. It may or may not happen, and there’s really no way of anticipating (or preventing) it. It wouldn’t even be worthy of capital letters except that many brides have experienced it – enough so that it’s something that baby brides might fear. So let’s talk about it, dispel some fears and mention that it’s akin to something you may have already experienced.
But before we do that, I have to make an announcement.
Mom, if you are reading this, I’m gonna need you to stop.
No, seriously. Stop. Cause I’m gonna talk about stuff that I really don’t want you to even think about and even though I’m not going into details and I know it’s not a big deal to you, I’m not mature enough to handle it, so I’m seriously really gonna need you to skip this post, okay, I love you, bye now.
She gone? Good.
Because, honestly, getting married is like losing your virginity.
Yeah, I said it. Now, hear me out.
Both experiences are major milestones in your life, at least by society’s standards. And both are markers for womanhood, also by those standards. If you don’t experience either one, that does not make you any less of a woman. But both are a Big Damn Deal. Or at least they’re supposed to be.
There are two sides to both events, the Expectation and the Reality.
The Expectation is that your wedding/losing your virginity is going to be EPIC. It’s going to be a major change in your life, you’ll be a different person afterward and it is going to be GREAT. Everything’s got be just JUST SO, so that you maximize the event. Even if you go into with a more laid-back approach, there’s still a very high level of anticipation/anxiety that is still attached. Is this going to be everything I want it to be? Will my partner enjoy it too? What if I do something wrong? How’s this going to change our relationship? What if it’s not like I imagined it? Oh GOD, what if it SUCKS??? (Lauren note: That last question was in the 2nd email I ever sent to Alyssa. In real life, you guys.)
And then it happens. However IT happens, it happens. And your wedding/first time turns out to be like you imagined, completely different than you imagined, better AND worse – all at the same time.
But…nothing really changes. And that’s when Reality hits. Oh, some things are different, but they are not different in a way that strangers can tell. You walk away, having passed through the archway into Womanhood, and not a damn person can see it by looking at you. And that’s weird. And occasionally disappointing. You might feel the need to lean over to a stranger on the train and say, “Guess what I did?’ You may even end up in the bathroom, staring in the mirror in a very cliched way going, “I don’t look different. I don’t even really FEEL different. What’s the danged deal??”
And when this Reality hits, it crashes smack dab into your Expectations and then, Bam. Maybe it’s a big BAM, maybe it’s a little bam, but there’s a Bam. And for some of us, when that Bam hits, tears may follow. They could be small silent tears, or big gasping sobs that make you lock yourself in the bathroom. They’re not bad tears, they’re just there. They are the release that may come after X amount of time, build-up and anticipation. They’re an expression of relief that it’s over and sadness that it’s ended. Those tears are the tears of the woman you’ve become, the woman you were and the confusion that there isn’t more fanfare because of it.
That’s the Wedding Night Meltdown, kin to the I Lost My Virginity Meltdown. (Both of which could happen on the same night if you’re under 44 and part of the 3%.)
And just so you don’t think that I’m all hat and no cattle, I had a Wedding Night Meltdown too. A big, gross, snotty meltdown about three hours after our reception ended, as I’m riding in the car in full hair and makeup but dressed in my PJ’s and eating french fries (Long story). It was a relief and it was embarrassing, but it happened. (Meg says she had hers in a hotel room in London, where she kept saying she was glad it was over, but she just didn’t ever want to forget what it felt like. She was also really jet lagged.)
YOU may never have it, but you won’t know till you do. And I’m not going to hope that you don’t, other than to wish that it’ll happen in private with your partner where you can receive hugs and tissues.
Because a Wedding Night Meltdown isn’t something to anticipate or fear. It’s just one more thing that may happen to you in this crazy business of gettin’ hitched. Except this time, you don’t have to worry if you left your panties in the backseat. (WHAT? You expected me to get ALL the way through this and not make one terrible sex joke? Please.)
Alright, wedding grads. Help our engaged ladies out. Do you agree with me? Did you have a Wedding Meltdown? What happened?