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What My ‘Honeymoon Hangover’ Taught Me About Mental Health and Relationships

My husband and I were married on 10/6/2018. We had a big party with 100 people in attendance (mostly family and a few close friends). There is so much build up to the big day, and then it happens: the wedding, the party, the praise, the celebration, and then it’s over. And just like many drugs, the higher you go, the farther you fall. Today, I’d like to talk about the “honeymoon hangover” and what I learned from it.

This is probably the hardest part about being married so far (note: written June, 2019). The wedding was such a fun party, and we went straight from a fun party to a vacation, which was another party for seven days. Then we came home. It’s really hard to go back to “life as usual” after such a big high. My only expectation for the wedding was to have fun and when the day came around, everything went better than expected. Zach and I had such a great time! We danced, we drank, we expressed our love in front of 100 people and didn’t apologize for anything. Our guests danced all night as well, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I even heard the DJ say, “I think that was the best first dance I’ve ever seen.”

That was all I wanted for my wedding: a day to be unabashedly ourselves. We got to love on each other and party, and we were celebrated for both. Honestly, being the center of attention was what I adored most about the wedding day. I was so proud of my vows, I wanted to yell them loud enough for everyone to hear. I was so proud of our song choices, I couldn’t stop dancing. Instead of cake, we had wheels of cheese stacked on top of one another to look like cake. I was so giggly, I couldn’t stop making “cut the cheese” jokes. I am so proud of my relationship with Zach; I always want to talk about it. This was the day when I didn’t have to be modest. I got to boast about my love and only receive admiration and love in return. Then in Mexico, we partied some more. We danced, we swam, we drank cheap booze, we explored the city, we had sex during the power outage at the hotel and we napped in each others’ arms. Then when we got home, we had to go back to our “day jobs.” Nobody was celebrating us anymore.

Getting back into the swing of things was a hard transition. We continued celebrating on our own, which usually meant more drinking. It took me a few weeks to realize what I was doing. My body didn’t feel good, and all the work I put into getting into shape for the wedding kind of went out the window. Zach and I both stopped exercising regularly. There was a little surge of energy again when our photos came out. They were awesome, and I got some instant gratification from “likes” on social media and people discussing the wedding again. All of this got me thinking about celebrations in general. It feels like we limit ourselves to specific times when are “allowed” to celebrate and not feel guilty such as weddings, baby showers, birthdays, holidays, promotions, etc. People plan so hard for the big day because they want it to look perfect. Sometimes people spend so much time and effort making the wedding look perfect that they don’t actually enjoy the day for themselves. The reason we received so many compliments on our wedding was because the two of us just had a great time. We made the wedding exactly the way we wanted it and when the day came, we didn’t worry about anything except for having fun. We got to be our wild, happy, celebratory, drunk-and-in-love selves for a day and we were celebrated for it. It was hard to go from a VIP back to a cog in a wheel at a job I didn’t enjoy.

Weddings are like drugs. All the adrenaline and love from your family and friends, the high, stops with the music at the end of the night and you start to “come down.”  I can see why people have babies so soon after getting married. It’s a great way to keep the celebrations going for a few more months. People say you tend to “let yourself go” once you get married because you “don’t have to impress anyone anymore.” I hate that. Why should we stop impressing each other? I realized I was at the beginning of “letting myself go” when I wouldn’t stop drinking. Who knew it could happen so fast! My excuse was “I’m celebrating — I just got married!” but that excuse got tired after about three months. I was no longer celebrating: I was numbing. I was pushing away the sadness that was waiting to wash over me whenever I had a quiet moment.

After cutting myself some slack for several months, I started to slowly crawl out of my cold cave. I realized as I slowed the drinking down and started analyzing my behavior that I was being selfish. I was moping around, missing all this admiration, craving attention and celebration about my “great relationship,” all the while, not showing up for the one person who made it great in the first place. Here was my new husband right in front of me, and I wasn’t loving on him. I wasn’t behaving like someone who deserved praise. I was avoiding my feelings and I was not doing anything to impress my husband or myself for that matter. If I was going to preach about how we shouldn’t “let ourselves go” after marriage, then I had better stop numbing my feelings and eating shitty food. I wasn’t eating at home very much because I wasn’t shopping while drunk and I didn’t feel like shopping when I was hungover. I wasn’t exercising for the same reasons.

This all coincided with the decision to complete a 180 degree career change and become a love and relationship coach. If I was going to be a love coach, I thought, then I needed to lead by example. I needed to start creating reasons to celebrate. You don’t have to save your celebrations for a special occasion, but if you’re going to celebrate on a random Tuesday, it should be because you’ve created a life worth celebrating. Celebrate because you are proud of yourself. Don’t take permission from some arbitrary alliteration (you like that?), like Taco Tuesday, to celebrate an otherwise unfulfilling week. Do something that makes you proud to be alive and celebrate that accomplishment.

I think “letting yourself go” can become synonymous with “complacent” if you aren’t careful. The honeymoon hangover was a good reminder to not become complacent in my relationship. I want to be someone who my partner will always be proud to have married. I want to continue to grow and become a better version of myself. I think that is the key to a lasting, fulfilling relationship. You have to keep generating “new energy” to keep the relationship exciting and fun. If we become complacent, the energy becomes old, stagnant and stale. The only way to bring new energy in is to continue to grow, learn and try new things.

So that is my goal for this relationship. I want to lead by example, grow and always strive to be a better version of myself so that the next time I celebrate on a random Tuesday, I can have a toast to more than just “tacos.”

Follow this journey on Snuggle Struggles.

This story originally appeared on Snuggle Struggles.