After marriage blues - does postnuptial depression exist?
by Charlotte Fantelli
We all focus on 'the big day', the anticipation of your wedding, the delightful big event, the spotlight and focus on your love for one another, but what about the days, weeks and months that lie beyond?
A shift in focus
We in this country seem to focus very much on weddings, but there doesn't seem to be a great sense of focus on marriage. In days gone by the church would have given many pre-wedding, marriage guidance sessions and the community would be asked to uphold the new couple in their marriage, indeed in other cultures and religions this is still a big focus of the wedding.
These days unfortunately the 'community' support and life lessons on marriage are few and far between, leaving many newly weds with a sense of 'what happens next?'
The headline grabbing 'Will Kate Middleton suffer PND?' may be a way to sell papers, but it does also bring attention to a tricky time in may relationships and one that should be discussed.
After the anticipation and splendour of the royal wedding it has been suggested the future Queen could also be experiencing a niggling sense of disappointment. ‘Of course, Kate is going to feel a little down that it’s all over,’ says Belinda Hanks, editor of wedding website confetti.co.uk.
‘Like all brides, her wedding will have been the biggest project she’s ever taken on, celebrating perhaps the most momentous day of her life. Brides plan their special day for months, so it’s inevitable that, once it’s all over, they may feel bereft and need a new focus.'
‘A lot of brides who visit our internet forums admit to having post-nuptial depression. Having been used to planning, organising and being creative, they suddenly feel a void in their lives when it comes to an end.’
The facts about postnuptial depression
- The Mail reports as many as one in ten women is thought to suffer from some degree of post-nuptial depression in the wake of their wedding.
- Research by one U.S. psychologist found that 10 per cent of U.S. couples seek counselling suffering from symptoms including remorse, sadness or frustration.
- Meanwhile, relationship experts believe that the wedding blues hit a similar proportion of Britain’s 275,000 brides each year.
What the experts say
Psychotherapist Diana Parkinson says: ‘Many women are placing too much expectation on the wedding itself, when really the focus should be on the marriage.
‘I’ve noticed an increase in the number of women feeling depressed in the wake of their wedding. I’ve even had women say they are not in love with their husbands and just wanted the lavish wedding.
‘Many brides become obsessed with planning their big day and spend tens of thousands of pounds. They lose sight of the fact it’s about two people joining their lives together and declaring their undying love for one another.’
Jade Beer, acting editor of Brides magazine, says: ‘It’s important for any new bride to get some perspective and appreciate it for what it is — one amazing day — but also the start of what will hopefully be many happy years together.’
Not just a 'woman' thing
We can not find any research on this subject regarding men, however it is true that any major life change can impact upon us psychologically regardless of sex. Perhaps because in most instances women do a lot of the planning and preparation, we would assume they experience this phenomenon more, but we should not forget that it is a very big step for men too.
Tips to avoid PND
This should be a joyful time and can be a wonderful new adventure, unfortunately as with any big change, the post wedding period can be daunting, once the celebrations go away and a couple are left to start a life together. If you you are about to get married do not despair, we have a few top tips to help you look forward to, and enjoy this period of your life together:
On the run up to the wedding
- A marriage is for life not just for the day - this is a very big thing many people take too lightly, marriage is seen as more 'disposable' than it once was, with quicky divorces and many celebrities chosing to have many public marriages and divorces. Marriage is not just for the great sex, the cosy nights in and the tax benefit's, it is also about loving and supporting one another through times of difficulty and hardship.
- Discuss your plans - many divorcee's state they did not realise what the other had in mind in the future - ie whether they wanted children, or what their career plans were. If you are going to marry someone surely you want to check these things out first?
- What do you want from the other? Communicate your expectations, this can really help one another understand what is wanted from them and take seriously their future role.
- Realistic expectations - a fairy tale wedding is all very well in books, but in reality it can be a costly and stressful event - keep it in perspective, one day in the whole of the rest of your life, relax, enjoy and celebrate!
- Do not put too much pressure on one another - it is about you as a couple, not one of you as an individual, this is your first true opportunity to share in something that identifies you as a partnership.
On the wedding day
- Focus on the important things - The love you have for one another, the vows, the life ahead, the commitment and sharing with family and friends.
- Some things are beyond control - if the best man gets drunk, or the flower girl wets herself... It is not the end of the world!
- Take in the beauty of the occasion - it goes so fast, so relax and enjoy!
- Keepsakes - Photos, video even a notebook that people can write warm wishes in; these things last after the event and can help remind you of the special day and vows you made after the celebration itself is over.
After the wedding
- The honeymoon is over - real life kicks in when the honeymoon is over, but this can be just as wonderful and exciting as the wedding itself.
- Plan for the future - you do not have to stop planning nice things, focus on the wonderful things to come, not what has gone! Look at what holiday's you would like to take together, what names you like for children if you want to have them - anything that gets you looking forward together. Share your dreams and aspirations.
- Surprise each other - many people complain that once married the relationship loses spontinaity, little surprises every now and then can make a marriage feel fresh and new.
- Love doesn't cost a thing - little notes, walks on the beach/country/park, a picnic or a movie, keeping the passion alive post-wedding doesn't have to be about splashing the cash.
- Remember why you got married - It is easy to fall into a trap of seeing people's flaws, but reminding each other and yourself of why you fell in love in the first place can rekindle a flagging partnership.
- Compliment each other daily - You know why your partner is special, so tell them.
- Physical touch - This releases endorphins and creates deeper bonds; hugs, kisses and flesh on flesh time (even a tickle or massage) can keep your lust alive
- Compromise - a marriage is about give and take
- Don't take each other for granted - You have each other for life, but this does not mean you should take each other for granted
- Me time - Although now a couple, you are still individuals too, if you are happy as an individual you make a far better partner.
For our depression guide please see here: