Things I wish I knew before getting married.

I married my best friend on September 29th, 2019.

Yes, I understand that was only three weeks ago. And no, as the title may suggest, I don’t regret getting married, or anything that goes along with that. The older I get, the more I learn how reflective I am. And in these first few weeks of marriage, I’m finding there is a lot I wish I would have taken to heart more leading up to the wedding. I’ve thought about writing a post about the things no one talks about regarding planning a wedding (such as a crazy societal expectation to be happy and joyous throughout the whole process). But as I’ve begun to piece my thoughts together, and gather my self back together after the wedding and honeymoon, I’m realizing that my thoughts are less what I wish people would have talked about, and are instead more of what I wish I had realized and knew.

I wish I would have known how emotionally hard it is to plan a wedding, and to be in the transition period of being a bride.  I wish I would have known how weird it is to be a bride, and to take on that identity.

I wish I would have known how severe I would have felt the expectation to be happy/joyful/blissful/etc. Social media offers pictures upon pictures, stories upon stories of brides on the brink of Heaven, dressed in decadent gowns. Hardly any one strips back the curtain and talks about the feelings and emotions bubbling under the bridal surface. The closer it got to the wedding, the more I felt my emotional experience was in contrast with everyone else and was therefore “wrong”. If I had known how deeply this pressure would have affected me, I probably would have made a much more focused effort to stay away from social medias.

I wish I would have known that I wouldn’t feel happy all the time, or joyful or blissful. Iscreenshot_20191018-134957_chrome3792345809676260142.jpg spent a lot of time not knowing how I felt, apart from being excited to marry my best friend. I began to get frustrated that I wasn’t happy, and then I would get irritable.  These unknown, unnameable feelings are okay, and I wish I would have accepted this early in the engagement, instead of trying to force myself to feel happy.

I wish I would have known how I would have internalized stress. Consciously, I didn’t feel stressed, but if I’m being honest, I think I experienced a level of anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasurable emotions) because of stress. Couple that with an irritability, and that was a perfect recipe for breakdowns and fights. I had quite a few breakdowns at the beginning and the end of the engagement (hear me when I say this: the first month and the last month are the worst of the whole process). HB and I don’t fight; we have really good communication, but the last few weeks leading up to the wedding, we really got at each other’s throats. It breaks my heart each time we fight, and I wish I would have known this would be a side effect.

I wish I would have known how much I would compare my identity as a bride, and my wedding experiences to other brides. I’m learning I’m competitive, in the sense that I feel I need to be the best, or have the best experience to “feel happy”. I know this is horrible thinking, and I’m fighting against it every day. But boy, did I ever compare myself, my appearance, my wedding dress, the wedding we were planning, the home we were building, etc. against every other bride getting married before me, and those that are getting married after me. I wish I hadn’t done this, as HB and I would have had a much more peaceful and enjoyable engagement, and I think I would have been a lot more internally content.

I wish I would have known the internalized expectations I had about my life, and what I thought others expected of me. HB and I ran into this a lot, and I know by the end of the engagement, his patience was way thin.

I wish I would have known, and truly understood, that I needed help. I really enjoyed organizing everything, staying on top of everything – all the administrative things that go along with planning a wedding. But I needed and valued and wanted help and advice, but I didn’t know how to ask for it, or what I needed it for.  I didn’t know how to answer questions about what I needed help with, and it began to get frustrating, as I began to feel like I was drowning, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

I wish I would have known I wouldn’t dream about the wedding, but that I would have a lot of “stress” dreams (I had a lot of dreams about being chased, or dreams with an overall, at times heavy, presence of something big looming).  I might have dreamt about the wedding three times throughout the entire engagement, and none were in the last month or so before the wedding.  Lots of well-meaning people told me I would dream about the wedding as we got closer, but in reality, I didn’t. I often dealt with the feeling of being “jipped” by my experiences being different than what the expectations/standards were, or what others experiences were.  I’m learning that obviously I can’t go back in time, and thus in turn, my experiences are my own and they are okay.

In this same vein, I wish I would have known how decision-less I would be about a lot of things.  It’s not that I was indecisive — I’m pretty sure that I would have made decisions about things if I had had a clearer idea of what I wanted.  For example, I had no idea how I wanted to look on my wedding day, apart from the shoes, veil, and dress.  I knew based on the dress style I didn’t want to wear a necklace, but I couldn’t figure out about a bracelet or something else to go with the earrings HB was gifting me as a wedding present.  To extent, I didn’t even know how I wanted to have my hair styled.  I had lots of pretty ideas to show my stylist, but when I realized how my hair acted in those styles, I realized they weren’t what I was looking for.  Thus, I was never really definitive about how I wanted my hair; I just knew I wanted it a low up-do and I wanted it soft and romantic.  My stylist ultimately surprised me on my wedding day by doing a style we hadn’t tried, and it was really pretty, so she kind of helped in that regard.  Also, apart from the few specific photos suggestions I sent the photographer, I had no idea how to answer questions about family photos (apart from the standard immediate family photos).  I actually began to get really frustrated with myself that I didn’t seem to have an answer to these questions, when my parents and the photographer kept asking.  There are several other things this applied to, but at the end of the day, I think some of this stemmed from having only attended two weddings in my adult life, and both were two years before I got married.  I felt like I had little first-hand experience to pull from.

If I can get really personal for a second, I wish I would have known how alone I would feel. In the circle of my life and the people I trust and care about, I was the first to get married. There was no other couple that I knew intimately enough, no other bride that I counted a good close friend enough, to relate to. Yes, I talked to my mom. Yes, I talked to my fiancee. Yes, I talked to my maid of honors. But there was no one in the same season of life as me in my intimate circle that I could relate to, and it often left me feeling alone.  And though there are tons of online communities for brides to connect with other brides, I don’t make friends quickly, and I don’t spill my guts for strangers.

I wish I would have known how much I truly care about others in comparison to caring about myself.  That’s not to say I didn’t take care of myself leading up to the wedding, but I am so not used to being the center of attention.  (If I’m being honest, I did a lot of self-care instead of self-love.) I didn’t, and don’t, know how to look in the mirror and see myself worthy of being the center of attention. (Whoa, that got deep….) Not that I did it much, but I decked my bridesmaids out in gifts and jewelry and tended to forget to gift and deck myself out.  I offered praises and compliments to my bridesmaids and my mom as they were getting ready (because, my gosh, they were all stunning in their dresses!), but forgot to praise and compliment myself while I was getting ready.  Being a bride is a weird identity, and being a bride who cares about others more than herself is an even weirder experience.

I wish I would have known how truly bittersweet it would be to pack up my childhood room and set up home somewhere else.  I lived at my parents’ home for 17 years before getting married, and plucking your roots from one place and plopping them down somewhere else is a very sad, exciting thing.  Apart from living in an apartment in Italy for a few weeks, I’ve never known what it was like to live away from my parents.  Seeing the walls in my room become more and more bare, and the space in my room become more and more empty, was exciting because it meant it was getting closer to living with my chosen partner, but it was also really sad because the position I had in my family and my parents’ home was permanently shifting and changing.  Sitting here in the my “office” in my home with my husband, I’m realizing how sad I am about this change.  I think it’s ignorant to expect the happiness of this new season to completely overwhelm the sadness I feel.  I’m happy, but I’m also really sad.

I wish I would have known how confused the idea of “home” would become.  My parents’ house was “home” for most of my life, and “home” has always been with my family.  But now, as HB and I begin the process of changing our addresses, and I begin the process of changing my name, “home” is no longer “home”.  It’s weird to start calling my former “home” “my parents’ house”, and it’s weird to start calling this little row home with boxes still piled in every corner “home”.

I wish I would have known how tricky the merging of two lives, living patterns, personalities, habits, etc. would be.  It wouldn’t dissuade me, but the heads up would be nice.  People just kind of mention that “it’s hard”, but no one gives specifics, so I was/am a little blindsided as to how weary and tired I feel with trying to find our new “normal”.

Being married is a weird, beautiful, exciting, annoying, hard, fun, irritating, joyous thing (at least at this stage).  No marriage is the same, and thus, our journey together in marriage is one that I don’t know what to expect, and that is so exciting.

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