The best year of our lives?
THERE is a problem with fairytale weddings, and it's this: that people expect nothing less than a happy ever after. Brides often spend months gearing up for a day they've dreamt of for years. And with every whim met by family and friends in the run-up to a wedding, there is often a nasty fall back to earth after being princess for a day.
Add in the sting of the financial impact of a wedding and many Irish couples find themselves getting off to a less-than-auspicious start . . . something that the fairytales don't tell you about. Little wonder, then, that experts are hinting that the first year of marriage is often the toughest for couples.
After the happiest day of her life, a friend of mine -- let's call her Kelly -- fully expected the happiest year of her life to follow. The run-up to her wedding was chaotic, giving her little time to pause and reflect on the fact that the single Kelly would be no more. Imagine her surprise once the confetti had been swept away to find that she had post-wedding blues; something that researchers say affects one in 10 Irish brides.
"Planning a wedding takes up time and money, and with it behind you it can feel like there is nothing to look forward to. The couple may have no money and be in debt as a result, which will have an impact on their social life," says Lisa O'Hara of Relationships Ireland (relationshipsireland.com, tel 1890 380 380).
"I knew there would be some sort of down period," Kelly admitted. "But I couldn't understand why I felt like that. Was it because I didn't want to be married? I hadn't experienced the 'cold feet' before the wedding, and I worried that I hadn't thought things through. I told my best friend that I was feeling a bit bluesy after the honeymoon, and I'm not sure she could understand how I could be feeling like that after such a happy time."
Even the fairy tale dust has well and truly settled after one of the biggest weddings in recent memory. Prince William and Kate Middleton are heading for their paper anniversary . . . but have had to endure extended periods of time apart as he fulfils his RAF duties (including, presently, a tour of duty in the Falklands).
>Closer to home, Dubliner Lindsey Kerrigan (29) married Paul Whyte (29) in October after a four-year engagement. And, after setting the date at Christmas 2010, 10 months of frantic nuptials planning ensued.
"It was pretty intense . . . exciting and enjoyable being the centre of attention, doing the dress shopping, that kind of thing," she admits.
"In a way, I was glad when it was all over and I had my time back to myself, even though I was sad it wouldn't ever happen again. Every weekend leading up to the wedding, we were doing something related to the wedding. It was weird when we came back from honeymoon."
Happily, the hitching went without a . . . well, hitch. Yet after the euphoria of the big day, a sense of anti-climax was just around the corner.
"There were a few weekends where we didn't know what to be doing with ourselves," she says. "It was like, 'what did we ever do before we were planning this wedding? And what happens now?' You've looked at the pictures from the day on Facebook a million times. And then you realise, okay, it's over now."
What's more, Lindsey found herself being bombarded with that age-old question; whether she was planning on having children.
"I thought [being asked that] was an old-fashioned thing that had been done away with, until I got married and heard it a lot," she reveals.
"Like, gimme a break! I've just had 10 months of intensity. We need to step back now and enjoy. We're enjoying having disposable income again, going to gigs and things like that. Every penny went to either the house or the wedding for so long."
Of course, many newlyweds are loathe to show any cracks in their newly forged veneer, which of course can compound the pressure in the first year of marriage.
"I think there can be a fakeness with newly married couples, and this pressure to let everyone know they're so happy," agrees Lindsey. "I've certainly seen it, but I don't buy into it. I don't feel like I need to make out that everything is super great, all the time."