No One Talks About What Life Is Like After Your Wedding Day

Relationships

No One Talks About What Life Is Like After Your Wedding Day | Wit & Delight
Photo by Lucas Mendes on Unsplash

My wedding dress was all silk. She had a long, fanned out train and silk buttons all the way up from my knees to my chest. The cuffs loosely wrapped around my wrists and I chose to wear a generous champagne-inspired spritz of Chanel, Gabrielle—an invisible memory. I wore a cathedral veil for the ceremony and the wind that day lifted its tulle right off the grass.

Weddings are magical for more reasons than I had originally predicted. They are exuberant, yes, in ways. But they are so, so intentionally soft. My wedding day and the days leading up to it were a million little slices of moments I won’t forget. My mom and I had “Wedding Wednesdays” for planning together (drinking quarantine wine and digging in old wood piles for potential signs). I won’t forget Jake’s quivering lip when I told him he’d always been a part of me somehow. How comforting the wind felt when we saw each other for the first time that day. The dimples on my niece’s hand when fixing her flower crown because it was far too big for her in a beautiful way and kids don’t have bones. The lighting, the dirt road, the golden trees, the safeness I felt tucked away in every minute.

Jake and I woke up the next morning tangled in cold sheets, sleeping with a normalcy so vibrant, it felt misplaced. I’ll always remember that, too. Our wedding had happened, and it was beautiful, but the day changed everything and nothing at all. We were still the boring set of ourselves. The only thing we did differently was look at each other and say, “HI, WIFE” and, “HI, HUSBAND” like foreign little robots learning words for the first time.

Jake and I woke up the next morning tangled in cold sheets, sleeping with a normalcy so vibrant, it felt misplaced. I’ll always remember that, too. Our wedding had happened, and it was beautiful, but the day changed everything and nothing at all.

The day itself wasn’t a blur. I remember every precise moment. I remember silk on my legs and the color of the sun and feeling such an intense form of love from every breath, I am still humbled by it. What has been a blur, for many reasons, has been the after. 

No one tells you about the days after the big, buttery day. And the days after that. And I am, in no way, surprised. But, I think we should talk about what really happens. We owe it to ourselves to discuss the moments that aren’t held on a silver platter. We owe it to ourselves to talk about the moments that truly, don’t take our breath away.

So, here are my notes.

1. It feels guilty to feel normal.

We didn’t have a honeymoon because of the pandemic, so instead we drove up to Grand Marais, Minnesota and stayed in the most charming cabin on the hills. We drank beer and listened to old music. It wasn’t much and part of that felt good. But then we went back home and ate Sun Chips on our couch and watched SNL reruns. And the normalcy felt harsh, almost.

I regretfully missed wedding planning, even though I had originally told myself I never would. We both felt eerily quiet and frozen. And to be honest, we still do. For two years the celebration took up cold little closets in our brain and filled them with color and hope. The absence of it, I will tell you, was hard. It startled me.

2. Truly and honestly: What is marriage bliss?

We waited nine years to get married. So, our idea of marriage bliss is mutually agreeing to sit inside, watch Borat, and make our own dinners (his: pasta, hers: toast and eggs). But marriage has a pressure cooker feel to it. And I’m not talking about convenience. There’s a sense of urgency to be movie-like in love; to be well-cooked and seasoned. The perfect *chef’s kiss* relationship that people fawn over and place themselves.

The problem? We just….weren’t that picturesque couple afterwards. In fact, we drove in the car to pick up some things from the venue in complete feared silence, hoping we had done enough to keep our family safe. That night, we swung right back into our routine. We didn’t talk for two hours straight sitting on the couch and I passed out two hours before him with a book on my chest.

We need to rethink what marriage bliss really is and take away that damn heat. Marriage bliss is comfort. It’s falling asleep with books on our chests, forgetting to say goodnight. We don’t need to be stumbling all over each other, fawning like wonderful idiots. We can be us, whatever that is. 

We need to rethink what marriage bliss really is and take away that damn heat. Marriage bliss is comfort. It’s falling asleep with books on our chests, forgetting to say goodnight. We don’t need to be stumbling all over each other, fawning like wonderful idiots. We can be us, whatever that is. 

3. Complacency is my new number one fear.

Before, in our relationship, I feared funny things: being too clingy, drifting apart slowly without knowing, wearing sweatpants too much, etc., etc. Getting married removes those funny worries slightly, because of the commitment and longevity. But now I have a new fear. Complacency.

I’m afraid our comfort will get the best of us and we’ll forget to surprise each other. I notice it bubbling in small moments here and there. I’ll forget to take the moment to say a proper “hello” when we get home from work or he’ll forget to kiss me goodnight. It feels like a looseness, safety’s little gremlin counterpart. I don’t want to get robotic just because we’re hitched. But, on the flip side, I don’t want to put too much pressure on us. It’s something I’m always working on—and a new emotional baby I have to nurse. 

4. The sense of safety you feel shifts in a way that’s tough to explain.

I got a text from a good friend of mine after our wedding. It said, “When we got married, we had this really weird shift in our relationship and I would love to know if you feel something too?? Like…safe? I don’t even know how to explain it.” 

And he was so right. I did feel this (almost) unexplainable shift of security. I don’t want to get cheesy here because I think relationships are too important for glitter. However, you do feel that fall: the emotional equivalent of crawling into bed when you’re so tired. Or, getting into your car to go home after a long day at work. I think it’s a sense of relief, but also a promise of comfort and a softer place to land. If I can’t figure out something in my life, I finally have someone who will take care of it; carry part of the load. 

5. Changing your name is weird. And inconvenient. And slow. And confusing? 

I didn’t think changing my last name would turn at the snap of a finger but holy Hannah it’s like dragging a boulder up a mountain. And it’s…clunky. You have to change your social security before anything else and that takes weeks. Jake and I started sharing a joint bank account, while I kept my own for personal things. I’ve started changing my name in minor spots like insurance, my dental office, and on LinkedIn. I’ve been playing this hilarious straddle game of half me, half this new me. And it’s a truly confusing dance for everyone involved. Yesterday, my doctor didn’t have my updated married name and my insurance did. So, when I picked up my prescription, it took the pharmacy thirty minutes to figure out how to give me birth control.

It’s really not a big deal. It simply feels sloppier than I thought it would. And now I know it’s going to take way longer than I thought to be 100% the married version of me. Until then, I’ve cozied up to the transitional stage, testing out my new name like a brand new car, signing things wrong on documents everywhere.

6. My individuality is still the most important thing: It just looks different.

So, I legally changed my name. It’s something Jake and I discussed before the wedding and always something I wanted to do for my own reasons. I thought it would be hard, emotionally, to change the name I’ve had for over thirty years. Names are such a funny part of our identity. They’re what is called when we’re needed, in a room full of people, by the people we love. However, in the process of changing it, I ended up feeling prideful and good about being a slightly different version of me. I was surprised by the lack of feeling like I’d lost anything.

I’m always “Brittany Chaffee.” But now, I’m maintaining a new version. A version that will hopefully have children someday. A version that navigates the world alongside another. A version that still does the things I love singularly: horseback ride, write, and binge watch Emily in Paris. (Writer’s Note: Please personally message me about feelings for that horrific and wonderful Netflix show).

Above all, the person you marry will never take that self-thriving piece of individuality away from you. That’s what no one tells you. After you’re married, you will still feel like yourself. Nothing, really, will change.

Above all, the person you marry will never take that self-thriving piece of individuality away from you. That’s what no one tells you. After you’re married, you will still feel like yourself. Nothing, really, will change.

BY Brittany Chaffee - November 18, 2020

14
Leave a Reply

DMC

“We didn’t have a honeymoon because of the pandemic, so instead we drove up to Grand Marais, Minnesota and stayed in the most charming cabin on the hills.”

That sounds like a honeymoon to me!

Emme

I support the women in my life whatever they decide, but I agree that the name changing process is weird. Where my family is from, women traditionally don’t change their names when they get married. I was also in my late thirties and simply didn’t want to go through that hassle for a name that doesn’t have any of my accomplishments attached to it.

LLZ

I didn’t enjoy wedding planning much while it was happening, or the aspect of having a lot of attention, but the month after we were married Bridesmaids was on tv and it made me cry one of my hardest cries. Just as you said I hadn’t realized how much space it had taken up and the void was felt.

Christina Witzel-Lund

As a June 20th COVID bride I wholeheartedly agree with everything written here (especially changing last name! Ugh! I’m hypenating in the meantime!
Beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing!

Sam

This hits… I got married this year as well, and all of these points really resonate with me. Thank you for writing down how I feel!

Meredith

Emily in Paris was so terrible, but I watched the whole damn thing. LOL. It was a good show to have on while I worked on my drafting skills.

Jena

This was a lovely read. I also got married this year, but it just so happened to be the last weekend before everyone started worrying and things shut down (March 8). We had known each other less than a year, and I only wedding planned for 3 months, but this whole being a newlywed during a pandemic is so strange! People keep asking me what it’s like and my honest answer is “I have nothing to compare it to!” It’s so weird to go from single to with someone literally 24-7 in a year! Also kudos to you for jumping… Read more »

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