How to fight post-wedding blues: set some goals

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How to fight post-wedding blues: set some goals
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My wedding was a weekend-long celebration with my wife's and my closest friends, and it went beyond our expectations. We had a limited budget, tons of DIY, and were planning from out of state. It was perfect.

Now, two months after we returned from our honeymoon, I struggle to fill my evenings. I do a lot of puzzles: they have a knack for making me feel orderly and in control. I've finally caught up on many of the books I've been wanting to read. But what do I want to be doing after work? Writing envelopes, emailing the photographer, putting together favors. Oh, and getting pregnant. Wedding planning had taken my mind off the extreme desire to have a baby, but it's back in full force.

My wife and I are relatively new to our city, and haven't made many friends yet (I think two?). I hate exercising, but am going to try to find a class. I should clean the house, but that's no fun. And I'm not a very crafty person; my wife's the one with the Etsy store.

This really has thrown me for a loop. So I'm asking any other Offbeat Brides who've stuck around the site after the big event โ€” am I crazy? Am I pathetic? Help? -Jacqueline

You are not crazy or pathetic. You're a recovering organization-under-pressure accomplishment junkie, and as hard as the wedding was, you totally got a rush from that intoxicating combination of preparing, celebrating, designing, and social engineering. Wedding planning can create a temporary autonomous zone of other-worldly emotional and logistical highs and lows. It's creative in a way that many of us don't really allow ourselves to recognize (I'm not a very crafty person, you say — but your beautiful wedding looks like a creative expression to me). For those of us who are right-brained, the spreadsheets and budgets and ticky-box checklists can be sickly satisfying. For months (or years, for some folks) you work through all these little challenges and then! At the end! THIS HUGE THING HAPPENS. Fuck yeah, accomplishment.

Of course I'm speaking from personal experience here. I love organizing (little things in boxes, relationships in my life, time management) and so for me, wedding planning was fun. I'm a planner! I like planning! When all the planning was done, and I'd gotten an A+ on my science fair poster — er, had my wedding, I took a deep breath, pulled out a blank piece of paper and was like WHAT'S NEXT? LET'S PLAN THE FUCK OUT OF SOMETHING.

For me immediately post-wedding, it was my career. I wrote my book in late 2005/early 2006, while also working a full-time editorial job for a movie website owned by Disney. I managed my time down to the 15-minute-increments sometimes… and enjoyed it. That's just how I am. I like being busy. I like getting excited about stuff.

And, if you miss your wedding planning, it sounds like you miss being that excited about something. You miss working toward this one, rather large, rather important goal. You could focus that energy into planning other events/parties. Certainly, many people who work in the wedding industry are former lovers of wedding planning. If you literally just want to keep doing weddings, then maybe it's time to look into establishing yourself as a wedding planner.

Alternately, some folks get into entertaining, in the home-making sense. My friend Helen Jane continues to throw the most amazing special parties in the years after her wedding — it's just what she does. She likes hostessing and entertaining. If you liked throwing a wedding, you might too. When it comes to home-making, decor and entertaining and designing can definitely give you a hit of some of the same wedding-planning highs. (Hence…, another one of my many busy projects.)

And of course exploring family, in its many shapes and sizes, becomes a priority for many. For me, obviously, it becomes publishing websites about the other things people do. (HA!) For lots of us it's career or school. For some of us it's a combination of several of these combined.

Sad bride doll from Etsy seller MaidInTheDark
Sad bride doll from Etsy seller MaidInTheDark

For those who AREN'T busy-body Must Always Have A Project people, sometimes it's just chilling the fuck out and coasting for a while. That's cool too, if it feels good. I worry when people coast unhappily (“Don't really like what I'm doing, don't have the energy to change it, but have just enough energy to complain about it…”) but as someone who has trouble relaxing, there's a measure of envy for those who can happily find a groove and ride it.

But! For those of us who get restless, whether it's at-times misguided ambitions, a near-puritanical craving for accomplishment (I! DID SOMETHING TODAY! I CAN SLEEP WELL! I think of this as so exhaustively American), I think it's critical to address the post-wedding blues with a big fat dose of being quantifiably busy.

That quantification is key — part of the delicious high of wedding planning is that you're working with some very hard numbers. A date. A budget. A number of people on your guest list. The structure that framework is part of what makes it satisfying. You're not just “doing puzzles,” you're setting up an epic self-challenge to master X puzzles in a month, combined with some sort of daily documentation. Maybe it's writing that book, or managing the organization of some big charity function/fundraising event where you're wrangling a volunteer staff of 20, or maybe it's collecting some odd obscure thing and dorking out about it online with other obscurity-fans and then going to a convention to further dork out over your obscure things.

New projects and goals need to be very specific and completely achievable. Like a wedding, you need some clear numbers to work with. “I will BLA this WHATEVER using only my teeth and wit by THIS DATE.” Weddings make you do that. When picking projects or new activities or goals, it's easy to be too general about it.

“Now I'm getting in shape,” you mutter to yourself on New Year's Day. What does that mean to you? By when? Doing what? What tools will you use? What's your ultimate motivation? When will you know when you're done?

With post-wedding goal setting, you have to be as specific about your goals as you were about your wedding plans. Have a spreadsheet. Get your friends involved. Give yourself clear goals and measurable, quantifiable accomplishments in sight. Create a structure that allows you to again tap into the sick high of wedding planning.

There's my Rx: if you're feeling post-wedding blues, start to quantify your goals and get very, very busy.

Also, come on over and join us over at Offbeat Home & Life. It's like Offbeat Bride for the rest of life… and might help with the post-wedding blues.

So — what goals are YOU working toward?

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Comments on How to fight post-wedding blues: set some goals

  1. Where was this post 3 weeks ago? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad to see I’m not the only one struggling with the post wedding depression (exacerbated by my regular depression and guilt related issues). It’s been hard…but I’m trying to refocus on my photography – business or not. I’m not quite back to the spreadsheet stage, but I’m giving myself a break and trying to chill, which is tough for a total type A organizer type. Can’t wait to see what everyone is up to!

    • This sounds so totally like me – hence the late-night rambling I sent Ariel, above. The depression, guilt, and type A – good luck!

  2. Not sure what you do for a living (so this might not be the best idea), but when I get antsy, stressed, or bored, take a walk- even if it is only a block or two, with your new wife too. It helps add connection, gives you time to think, reflect, relax, and connect while doing something you don’t pay attention to. While outside, thinking or talking, something will come to you and in the meantime, you don’t have to stress about it not being there yet.

  3. Before I took on Offbeat Bride full time, I started a Maui wedding planning blog. I just had all this information and insight into planning a Maui wedding, using local products, that I started a blog in which to dump said info and to help others. It was fun to satiate my planning urges by creating inspiration boards based on different wedding themes and finding new products to feature. Pretty soon I was getting emails from brides all over the world who were planning their own Maui weddings. I got to help them out and made a few new friends in the process, while also still getting to “play party planner.”

    Now, I work here and I have yet another place to offer up all my wedding knowledge. I just feel bad for Aaron — he so hoped to be done with all things “wedding” once the party was over. Boy was he wrong. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. One option is to make the most of your free time getting to know your new city! I lived in DC for two years (I’m still about 45 min away) and there’s a ton of awesome, cheap stuff to do! I planned a bucket list before I moved, and only did a fraction of them. If you’re having a baby soon (btw yay!), now would be the best time to explore.
    Examples: Woolly Mammoth- pay what you can shows before every run; Grey DC-underground foodie farmer’s market; Kennedy Center- free shows every day. You’re a planner, I’m sure you can find more.
    On top/instead of a class, you can also join groups to meet new people, like Ecowomen or whatever else floats your boat.

    • I wish I was in the DC area – that’s just where the wedding was (and where I grew up); we’re living in Cincinnati now. Still lots of stuff to do, once I find it!
      And the baby isn’t planned yet – thank God I can’t accidentally skip birth control. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. One of my post-wedding goals is to run a half-marathon (which for me is a BIG deal…). Also finishing Grad School is a major goal. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I am waiting for this to happen to me next year. I spent May 2009 – June 2010 planning my daughter’s Sweet 15 (Quinceanera). Got engaged in Nov 2010 so started planning my May 2012 wedding. It was one big event right after the other. 3 weeks after my wedding my daughter will graduate high school, no longer be dancing on 2 competition teams and I will be in the same boat. Wondering what the heck to do with all this time I never had before. Always running around or planning something for the past several years. I may need a padded room when all is said and done, lol…

  7. Is it weird I’m actually hoping this will happen to me? Maybe it’ll give me the motivation to write that novel that won’t leave me alone. The idea keeps going round and round in my head, I think it’s called a plot bunny although I have no idea why, but I never seem to get around to actually writing it.

  8. Ariel, thanks so much for posting my…whatever that is. I’ve lately been debating going to grad school, almost just to fill time. Looks like I need to try to write a book instead! :p

  9. If you’re still in DC I’ll be your friend! I LOVE friends. Rowany is right, though, there’s tons to do for free and cheap around here. Volunteering is always great, though not quantifiable. I know at least 826DC and WACDTF are always looking for help.

    • Aww! DC is where we got married, since silly Ohio is behind the times. I wish we could (afford to) live there. If we ever do, I will gladly be your friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. OMG… I don’t even knwo how I managed to have TIME to do all of the DIY components of my wedding. Even know that it is over, I’m wondering how I’ll have time to just go on with my life (I have three jobs and Etsy shops). As much as loved working on my wedding and the wedding itself, it is such a huge RELIEF that it is over! Now just to get to those thank you cards and posting the web pics on our web site…. *grumble, grumble*

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