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Post-Wed Depression
Photo: Joana Croft
The other day I was listening to a radio program describing the varieties of depression. As the mental health professional rattled off the types and descriptions, I considered people I have known or worked with that have experienced those emotional conditions. Then another classification dawned on me—one not contained within the diagnostic manual. I will call this emotional affliction, “Post-Wedding Depression. PWD can emerge in the life of anyone who has been immersed in the preparations for the Big Day. I believe that certain people can become addicted to the adrenalin rush of daily planning, shopping, decorating, arguing, receiving gifts, etc. After the event and when real life becomes mundane, very real depression can result.

I speculate that the young people (mostly women) that might suffer from Post-Wedding Depression are often in relationships with people who have previously been married, and often have a child/children from their first marriage. After the excitement of the wedding and honeymoon, these couples experience the complications of becoming a blended family. Sometimes the shock seems to be that the child comes first--no matter what. And the spouse will always be a daddy or mommy, whether or not the newly married partner ever becomes a biological parent. She may never be comfortable having the child call her, “Mom,” or the child may never want to call her, “Mom,” since he/she usually has a mother.

Family life suddenly seems so complicated. If only the two lovers could escape to their own private island.

Ease Uncomfortable Transitions

They may be experiencing the emotional fall-out of unrealistic dreams and expectations, besides the loss of a comfortable or exciting period of courtship. Grief is the often unrecognized robber of post-wedding happiness, just as it is for the post-partum depressed. Having family members and friends who can accept that there are losses, is a relief in understanding. For the PWD person, the following actions may help ease the uncomfortable transitions ahead:
  • Finding ways to acknowledge, process, pray, write or talk about the grief of losses after the wedding, is important in building a foundation to move forward. A period of counseling may prove helpful.
  • Creating ways to build an “island in time,” for the two partners seems critical for growth: new celebrations, date nights, phone off the hook minutes each night, occasional childless vacations, etc.
  • Learning about child development and spending time getting to know the step-child can help build confidence for the new partner.
  • Creating new traditions for holidays and family time is often recommended for blending the family. Certainly children will need some familiar structure however, the creativity of “this is how we will do it at our house,” gives everyone some ownership and investment.
  • Expressing gratitude to God, and to each other, for each family member and their distinctive qualities is a great attitude enhancer, and builds spiritual strength.

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By Karen Spruill, M.A. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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