Before my October wedding, my expectations for post-wedding life had really gotten out of control. In the stress of preparing gift bags, making hotel reservations and calling guests, my imagination had gone wild with imagining life afterwards. My mother always told me not to count on big life changes, such as starting college or getting a new job, to magically change the way things are or how I see them, but that’s exactly what I did with the wedding.
Before the wedding, I had sort-of made peace with the fact that we wouldn’t be starting a family for at least another year and probably more, that having a dog was still a few years off as well, that we would be staying in our noisy and poorly-isolated apartment for a while longer, that my PhD was stressful and frequently unfulfilling and that, well, life in the slow lane was at best a few years down the road. That peace was short lived.
When things settled down after the wedding, I realized that I had been expecting the white picket fence and 2.5 children to magically materialize when the ring was placed on my finger. One of the worst moments was a false-pregnancy alarm: when my period came that month, I felt like I was at the bottom of a pit. My poor husband didn’t know what to do or say to cheer me up.
According to Psychology Today, about 1 in 10 experience depression during the first year of marriage (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-you-and-me/201207/wedding-bell-blues-dealing-post-wedding-depression). In putting all of their energy into the wedding, a lot of women loose sight of who they are and what they want to do with their lives. The marriage becomes an end rather than a beginning.
Here in Toulouse, I’m still waiting for my fairy godmother to appear and turn my apartment into a single family home with a garden. In the meantime, I’m really lucky to have a wonderful partner in life, Sundays to spend hours snuggling in bed and a job, even one with an uncertain future. Did I mention that when you’re not pregnant you can drink beer?
Things aren’t all that I want them to be, but life is pretty sweet anyway.
Have you or your significant other had any experience with the expectations monster? What are your recipes for learning to appreciate what you have and accept what you don’t?