Wondering what to expect after the honeymoon? After months and months (years?) of wedding planning and meticulously checking boxes, and working towards one major culminating moment—it's over. In one blindingly beautiful whirl of love and emotion and floral arrangements the big day has come and gone. You've recited your vows, partied the night away with loved ones, and melted away the stress of it all on your honeymoon with your newly-minted spouse. So what happens now? How do you come down from all of that and transition back into normal life, as a newlywed no less? As you settle into your new married life, some things are bound to surprise you.
From next-level sexual intimacy to unexpected wedding planning withdrawal, here are the highs and lows you can expect in the first weeks of marriage and beyond.
You'll Ride a Roller Coaster of Emotions
Just as you felt up-and-down in the days and weeks leading up to your wedding day, it's likely you'll experience a wide range of emotions your first week of marriage. "These can range from excitement to anticipation to trepidation and even a sense of anticlimax," says Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based licensed marriage and sex therapist and author of "The Married Sex Solution." "What is perhaps even more interesting is the fact that a couple may not share the same emotion. There may be differences based on gender, age, or experience, including a prior marriage."
Sex Will Be Ahhh-mazing
That doesn't mean you'll have it every night, or even every other night. What it does mean, explains Denise Charles, relationship coach and author of "How To Have Mind-Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain," is that marriage adds a new spice to even the sexiest sex lives. "Sexual access is likely to be a big deal right after the wedding," she says. "For couples who chose to abstain prior to their wedding, sex is the ultimate consummation of their union and will likely be a significant post-wedding crowning point. And even for those who may not have abstained, lovemaking can take on a whole new meaning as their marriage has solidified their commitment and is likely to add something new to their sexual intimacy."
It Can Sometimes Be a Rough Return to Reality
"The fantasy of the wedding is gone," describes Van Kirk. And while some couples stay on their best dating behavior, others "will finally feel like they can let it all hang out," she says. No matter how long you've been together or whether you lived together before you tied the knot, it seems that having that piece of paper comes loaded with expectations. And you may find your partner doesn't meet each one, she warns.
You May Experience Wedding Planning Withdrawal
After you've been the center of attention for so many months, it can feel anticlimactic to unpack your bags and return to the humdrum of everyday life. (With a mountain of thank-you notes to crank out, to boot.) Some newlyweds go through wedding withdrawal. Post-wedding life can seem flat, dull, and even a bit empty. After months of filling every spare second stressing about the wedding, some couples find themselves staring at each other, "Okay, now what do we do?" This lack of tasks may initially feel like a void in your life. After a few too many quiet nights at home à deux, your instinct will be to grab your phones and get your Google calendar filled up.
Not so fast, newlyweds. If you pack your days, nights, and weekends immediately following your honeymoon with social events, you're avoiding the void. Staying busy is not what you need. You need time for quiet, inactivity, and stillness. In this calmer space, you can connect more authentically with not only yourself but also your partner.
Spending a Sunday lazily reading the newspaper on your new couch can be more marriage strengthening than racing from brunch with a gang of friends to tennis with another couple to dinner at your parents' house.
You'll Grow Stronger as a Couple and Build a Foundation
When newlyweds give themselves privacy to simply be together in their first months of marriage, a cocoon builds up around them. Many couples report a reigniting of grand passions between them. Having made a lifelong commitment to each other, you may experience new and deeper feelings of connection—engulfing, crazy-in-love, bordering-on-obsession engrossment with your spouse.
Why? You're opening yourself up to feel the long-term-commitment place in your brain that's newly lit up like a pinball machine. Day by married day, the high of your wedding grows into deeper, stronger, and steadier feelings of family and forever. By tuning out the world and focusing so intensely on each other, you're getting to know yourselves in your new roles as married partners. So enjoy this sweet time of cocooning, just the two of you, and remember that it's vital in building a strong foundation for your family.
You Will Have a Really Big Fight
Whether it erupts while you're still on your honeymoon or as you unpack into your new shared home, "the first big fight," says Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of "Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage," "can be very frightening for a couple." After all, you may think, isn't this supposed to be the happiest time of your life? But bickering for the first time since you tied the knot is all but inevitable. "You have just learned an essential truth about marriage: The two of you, no matter how compatible and in love, are now and always will be two separate people," she says. "Once you can accept this, then you can begin to work with those differences to a common goal."
You'll Realize You Have to Check In With Each Other
You're not used to giving notice when you leave your apartment for a quick run to the corner store or to take a time-consuming yoga class at your local studio. But once you wed, says Greer, you have to be accountable to one another about your comings and goings. So while you may once have enjoyed a night out with the girls without checking in first with your partner, now you want to inform one another about your time apart so the other person can make plans accordingly. Greer suggests creating a calendar where you can write down your individual and joint schedules and that you can reference when one of you needs to know what's going on. "That way," she says, "no one will feel left out or ignored."
You'll Learn to Navigate Major Joint Purchases
Spending major moolah together could give you a rush or a real scare. "There is the potential for a disagreement if the two of you have not decided how you are going to deal with money in your marriage," warns Doares, but spending money doesn't have to turn sour. "Making a major purchase together can also be a celebration of the joining of your lives," she says. "A new couch, a new bed, or a new house highlights the new life you are forging as a couple, and it presents you with the opportunity to include both of your likes into one thing instead of choosing separate items to match your individual desires. Making room for each other in this way will help create the interdependence necessary for a successful marriage."
Divorce May Cross Your Mind
The thought of divorce may be the furthest thing from your mind in the weeks (or months) after you get married. But at some point down the road, after the honeymoon, Doares warns the "D" word can creep into your inner vocabulary when your partner does something to hurt or disappoint you in a major way, or even as you encounter the normal challenges involved in adjusting to marriage. The more your expectations are challenged, the more likely you are to question whether it is all worth it. As hard as it may be to accept, "recognize that this is perfectly normal," Doares says, and, more importantly, doesn't signal an inevitable split. "The key to getting through it is to acknowledge it and then take a deeper look into what it is all about."
People Will Ask Lots of Questions
True, you won't be the center of attention the way you were leading up to the wedding, but people are still going to have a lot of questions after the honeymoon. Prepare your answers (or non-answers) to the following daily inquiries:
- Do you feel different?
- How's married life?
- Are you changing your name?
- Have you talked about kids yet?
- How was the honeymoon?
Never feel like you have to share more than you're comfortable with. After all, choices like whether (and when) to have kids are personal, and if you want to keep them private that's entirely okay. Everyone is just excited to hear about all the plans for your freshly minted married life.