For Better or For Worse – by ChristmasBride2006

Occasionally, I’ll be posting some of the most inspirational posts from the Conscious Weddings message board. What follows is one posted by ChristmasBride2006, who also wrote a guest blog here two weeks ago. She was one of the most wise, honest, and supportive members of the boards and I know continues to provide support to countless women through their wedding transition.

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I know one of the biggest things that helped me when I was engaged was hearing and seeing a “true picture” of what marriage/married life was like. Prior to that, none of my close friends were married nor did I have a lot of experience seeing an “insider’s view” of marriage. It was basically this big mystery to me about what happened after you said your vows. So when my parents opened up and talked to me on a peer level about what marriage and daily married life was really like, it helped me a lot and put to rest many fears about if my own relationship was good enough, right, normal, or if it was all wrong.

I hope that this can help a bit from someone who’s on the “other side” (even though I’m not a very seasoned married woman!)

My DH and I have been together for over 4 years and married for just over one year. We’ve always had a very easygoing, amicable, friendly, comfortable and to be honest, very easy relationship. We don’t really fight a lot, we get along very well, love each other very deeply and treat each other with respect. The first 11 months of our married life was also this way… lots of fun, full of love and laughter… truly better than anything I could ever imagine or had hoped for when I was engaged and full of fears, doubt, and anxiety over getting married. Neither of us are very confrontational people, and we just get along so well that there are hardly any conflicts. That’s not to say we don’t have our differences, but the conflicts rarely rose to the point of arguing or having a heated discussion. This is also not to say that the way my marriage operates is right and everyone else is wrong, or vice versa. Just trying to give you a good idea of how DH and I operate.

So as most of you know, DH and I just bought our first house together. The last two months have been an incredible test of our relationship. I knew that DH and I had very different tastes, requirements, and even spending habits. So I was surprised when it only took us 6 houses to find “the house.” Things were a little bumpy, but nothing that I didn’t expect. In fact, I expected us to have conflict and disagreements about buying a house, so nothing caught me by surprise.

What did catch me by surprise was all of the fighting, tears, stress and anger that ensued AFTER we decided to put an offer in on the house. It was very stressful for DH, who has never been in debt his entire life and has always been very financially secure and safe. To suddenly be in debt – even though it’s GOOD debt – was really hard for him.

Your spouse is the closest person in your life from now on. They will know things about you that nobody else knows, they will be the person you spend the most time with. I love my parents, I have a very close relationship with them and they know me like the back of their hand, but my husband knows me much more intimately than my parents or sibling or best friend. So you can imagine that when you get stressed out, the easiest target is your spouse, because they are the person you are most emotionally invested in. Call it the first big lesson we’ve learned being married, but as the tension and stress kept building, we kept nitpick, nagging, and finally ready to rip each other’s head’s off …. by the time our offer was accepted! We still had to go through the entire closing process, which took another 3 weeks.

We fought. A lot. About really stupid things and about really important things. For the first time since being married, I thought to myself “did we make a mistake?” This wasn’t a thought coming out of anxiety or fear like I had when I was engaged, but of sadness, frustration and hurt because it felt like we’d strayed so far from that disgustingly loving, blissfully newlywed couple that we were just a few months ago.

Well, we finally closed on our our new house yesterday, and have been busy packing and moving and cleaning. This experience has been the first real test of our relationship in probably the entire four years we’ve been together. As we were reflecting on the whole process last night, there were a lot of apologies and tears and forgiveness coming from both sides, which doesn’t come easy for either of us.

The reality is, marriage takes work, and sometimes it’s not fun. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy, but it always requires work. I was terrified of how much we were fighting, because we’d never fought this much before. But there are ALWAYS going to be storms during your life, whether you’re married or not. Sometimes being married makes things harder. I honestly think it’s easier to buy a house on your own rather than with another person! Marriage requires us to not only love each other, but to work at having a life with each other, which means sharing decisions and responsibilities.

There are going to be times that you feel highly disconnected from your spouse. I think that’s what bothered me the most. My DH is not an analyzer like me, and doesn’t spend time in his head, but we were both pretty guilty of having been wrapped up in our own minds/worries/fears for the past two months. So we weren’t connecting or allowing ourselves to be stress-free like we usually do. The thing I look forward to the most about moving is not the house, but that we get our lives back, and essentially, we get our marriage back to the place it was before we decided to embark on the house-buying adventure.

Not everyone is going to have as many problems as DH and I did over buying a house… and my point is to not scare you, but hopefully put out there that no matter who you marry, life is going to throw you a curveball at times. Marriage is a huge learning experience… a lesson that doesn’t end just because you made it past one year or fifty years. You are continually learning things about love, commitment, respect, trust, communication, commitment, etc. You don’t have to know all the answers the minute you say “I do,” and neither will marriage be 100% blissful the entire time.

I love my DH more deeply today than I did the day I married him, much more deeply than I could ever imagine. But that love had a chance to grow even more when we were faced with some tumultuous times. Our relationship is FAR from perfect, and it never will be. What’s the excitement in that?

January 2008

26 comments to For Better or For Worse – by ChristmasBride2006

  • Belinda

    LOVE IT! So honest and from the heart. It’s so nice to hear true stories of couples, and to know that every couple out there has problems – rather than just assuming you are the only ones with issues and everyone else’s marriage is perfect. It’s great to hear things from another person’s perspective. Thanks.

  • Natalie

    This was 6 months after my wedding. I remember her going through this at the same time I was figuring out my marriage, myself, my relationship…. everything. I keep in touch with her often and am so glad that Anna is an online friend of mine. She helped me through many rough periods while I figured out what all those conflicting feelings, emotions, and thoughts meant for me and my marriage.

    Marriage really is all about ups and downs. Not just months apart or years apart, but even days apart within the same week. DH and I are going through a change right now while he reassess his career and figures out what he wants to do with his life after losing his job. I’ve had many of those old thoughts and feelings resurface. However, I now know what they all are and what they all mean (I’m having a hard time with life not going as “planned,” wondering all these things about us and about me, and facing some of my big fears in life overall). ChristmasBride2006 and many others from the Conscious Brides site helped me figure it all out, and I am forever grateful to them. 🙂

  • Anna (ChristmasBride)

    How funny! I totally remember this time – it was really tough! We have been in our house for 2.5 years now but I can remember this time like it was yesterday.

    You want to know something ironic? We just bought a car and had to finance part of it … my husband was not really thrilled to add another debt. But this time we handled it sooo much better than the house purchase and we are working so well together to do what we need to do to pay down this unexpected cost and find our “financial-legs” (to borrow a term from Sheryl). We definitely feel more like a team than working against each other… probably because we went through what we did with purchasing our house. I understand my husband so much better.

    Gosh there are so many great women (including Natalie) that I met from Conscious Weddings. I really don’t think I would be able to handle transitions like I can now without having gone through the engagement anxiety.

  • Jannelle

    Hello All: How did you feel during your engagement? I have been feeling like a “bipolar” person. I have been with my fiance for 10 years and engaged for the past year- our wedding is next month. Lately, I have been feeling so confused—one minute I’m so excited that I get to spend the rest of my life with man and the next minute- absolutely terrified and in tears asking myself if I’m doing the right thing. I feel like I’m not connecting with him like I use to all the time—sometimes it feels like I’m just going through the motions an mentally I’m gone. Other times, when I’m not stressed out I’ll laugh with him like how we used to before we were engaged- and everything just feels so meant to be. Has anyone else experienced these feelings? After the vows are said and the wedding is over will my relationship go back to normal? I don’t have any doubts about the relationship, in fact I know I always want him to be in my life- but the word “marriage” is what is really scaring me! How long after the wedding does it take to be back in your normal fun loving relationship without all these crazy marriage fears???

  • Natalie

    Janelle… first off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Second, everything you wrote, I felt during my engagement and after my wedding (I found Sheryl’s website after my wedding), so trust me, you’re OK. I met Anna through Sheryl’s site, as well as many other women who all have written what you just wrote in one way or another. So trust me when I say what you’re feeling is very normal.

    I encourage you to read through some of Sheryl’s archives here and go to her Conscious Weddings site. If the message board is still up (closed to posting, but I believe you can still read on there), you’ll find many posts that will help you feel not so alone.

    As for timelines… don’t give yourself one. You said it already… when you’re calm and not fixating on everything, your relationship is good, healthy, solid, fun, etc. Remember that. Focus on that when you’re anxious. Write a list of all the things you love about your fiance and about your relationship and read it when you’re feeling particularly anxious. But don’t limit yourself to when you should “feel better.” I’m getting ready to celebrate 3 years of married life and, while I’m a million times less anxious than I was when I got married, new changes in life still spark those feelings (moving, changing jobs, talking about having kids). So while they diminish, don’t think they have to completely go away. You’ll just learn what they are and how to deal with them on your own terms. Don’t give yourself a time limit (I know, I’m repeating myself, but that’s very important). Feel what you need to feel. Process it all. And keep reminding yourself that what you have is good and real and solid. As you adjust to your new role as a wife and figure out what marriage means to you and your fiance, your expectations will lessen and you’ll feel more comfortable with it all.

    Finally, you’re a month away from your wedding. Things are going to get busy. Last minute details, family coming into town, people saying things like “Aren’t you so excited?” (I HATED that question personally). Be kind to yourself. For most brides I’ve talked to, anxious or not, the month and weeks leading up to the wedding were almost always overwhelming to them. That is so normal! Give yourself some time to just sit and be. Little details don’t matter much at this point. Breathe, get done what you can, and enjoy your day, knowing you’re entering into the next phase of your life with a solid, loving, stable partner whose company you truly enjoy.

    Good luck!

  • Jannelle

    Natalie,

    Thank you soooo much for your post…I was actually crying as I was reading your post…it is soooo nice to feel normal! It is funny when other family members are completely focusing on the stuff for the wedding and what they can buy for us when in all reality I want a beautiful wedding (of course) but more importantly I just want to feel connected to my fiance that day and that scares me that the fear will overwhelm me.

    I keep reminding myself that I could feel absolutely amazing that day or horrible and like i’m making a huge mistake…but i’m starting to come to peace with that whatever I feel that day. It really doesn’t matter how I feel –because at the end of the day that’s just one day in my life…and I get to make new memories everyday with my soon to be husband.

    To be honest if I had to choose feeling special on my wedding day or feeling “emotionally stable” during the days afterwards, I would choose feeling great during my marriage!

    Also, I really wonder if any woman glides through her engagement b/c I know other people think it has been “so easy” for me. I would never even dream of talking to either of our families about this. First I would feel ashamed and second they would just laugh b/c our families our so close to each other. They have seen my fiance and I basically grow up together since we were 18 years old. And they know that we’ll be fine. Actually my brother said to me …”so last chance to get out” (joking around) and my mother said….”hahahha yeah right they’ve been together for 10 years I think she would’ve decided that by now”– which, when I think about that it’s so true—if I ever wanted to leave I would have by now—I’ve always wanted this—so there in lies the confusion-Thanks for your post! It really helped!!

    How did you feel on your wedding day?

  • Natalie

    Janelle…

    I’m glad my reply helped. I know just realizing there were others out there who “got it” helped me heal more than anything. On my wedding day, I felt disconnected. I hated it at the time, but it was what it was and now, I’m OK with it. As I said, I didn’t find Sheryl’s site until after my wedding (really the week before, but I didn’t dive in until after my wedding). I only talked to my father because I was afraid others would tell me my fears meant I shouldn’t get married or that DH and I were wrong for each other. Then I found Sheryl’s site and now, 3 years later, my whole perspective on marriage/weddings/relationships is different… and I feel it’s much more realistic.

  • Jannelle

    Thanks for letting me know! It is so nice to her peoples stories that are already married. The other day I was at the doctor and the doctor knew that I was getting married and she told me that she turned into a crazy person two weeks before her wedding because she didn’t know how she could spend forever with her soon to be husband! And then another relative told me her engagement story and she’s in her 60’s. She said that her husband had actually called off the wedding and broke up with her for 4 months because of “cold feet”. They have now been married for over 30 years!! I wish I knew about all of these types of stories before my fiance proposed- even though I would have said that I wouldn’t feel that way!

    I feel so lucky that I’m able to talk to my fiance about all of my new found craziness! At first, I was really nervous and thought he’d leave me. However, it was the exact opposite and he has been more than supportive throughout this roller coaster ride. Now I know that I can tell him anything and no matter what he’d never EVER leave! It’s so comforting knowing that I’m entering a marriage where he and I will truly be there “for better or worse and in sickness and in health”. I will smile when we say those vows because through this engagement I’ve learned that to be the case!

  • Jannelle

    Natalie,

    Could you describe to me a little bit more how you were feeling during your engagement. My engagement has been filled mainly with tears and second guessing my decision. There rarely is a day that goes by where I haven’t been upset for at least a few hours. I’ll ask myself “Is this the right guy? Is this what I really want? Am I lying to myself about wanting this b/c this should be so much easier? Why can our relationship just go back to care free? Why do I feel so miserable?

    I am so sick about thinking about this every second of the day. It is like I can’t focus on anything else. I am hoping that after we get married I won’t be worrying about this all the time. I can’t believe that I am feeling like this- one word to describe it is shocking!! I have wanted this for 10 years!! This is definitely the worst year and I just feel so heartbroken. I want this all to go away- I just want to stop thinking about all of these negative things. I just want to be happy again. And by the way nothing in our relationship has changed since we got engaged- so that is why I think I should be the same carefree girl!

    Did you second guess your decision every day or just once in a while? What was the extent of second guessing? Were you in tears or could you just laugh it off? One of the red flags is “It doesn’t feel right” Did you always think it felt right or did you second guess that? My relationship feels right when I am not stressing. But I find myself stressing a lot and it is so aggravating!

    There is something inside me that thinks this is all going to be fine once were married and the pressure (that I’m putting on myself) is gone. I know that I do NOT want to call the wedding or the marriage off— it is just so scary—and I don’t want to fail! I really do think that these are just wedding nerves but sometimes those nerves are very convincing!! Any advice would be so helpful!

  • Natalie

    Janelle…

    I don’t need to describe how I felt during my engagement because you just did. It’s not a fun place… I remember it all too well.

    Also, the red flag of “it doesn’t feel right” isn’t one thos of us “Conscious Brides” can really lean on. I don’t recall that being one of Sheryl’s red flags, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the list. When you’re overcome with anxiety to the point you are, it’s hard to trust what you’re feeling as what’s “true” and what’s “fear.” More often than not, it’s fear… intense, horrifying, horrible fear. The best advice I received… when in those intense fear moments, don’t make any decisions.

    You’re getting closer and closer to your wedding, so it makes total sense to me that you’re feeling more and more anxious. Have you made lists of what it is you love about your fiance and what you love about your relationship to him? A list of positives helps, even if you just read it when anxious and don’t necessarily believe it at that time. The counter to that list is a list of what scares you specifically. If the list is filled with “It doesn’t feel right” types of things, I’d chalk it up to fear. “It doesn’t feel right” is a very vague feeling/idea. What does it mean to have it “feel right?” You and your fiance are two different people. If your list of fears included “He comes home and drinks until he passes out and is verbally abusive to me,” then yeah, that to me is a red flag. But if it’s “I like musicals and he doesn’t” or “he doesn’t talk about feelings as much as I do,” I’d think that’s fear nitpicking at every little difference you could possibly find. Even “I hate the way his nose looks” or “I wish he’d pluck that unibrow.” Differences are good. In my opinion, questioning is good too. It means you’re taking this seriously.

    I know it sounds simple, but just be kind to yourself. You said it yourself… you’ve wanted this for 10 years. Prior to this anxiety, you felt secure in your relationship. Trust that, even when you can’t feel it.

    To answer your question specifically… I felt anxious every day as well, so don’t think that means something is seriously wrong. Some days were worse than others. I felt most anxious when I had to work on something specific for the wedding. So it’s OK. Find something that helps calm you down… journaling, a warm bath, walking in nature, sitting with your fiance just “being” while watching a comedy…. something and try to do it for at least an hour a day. It’s a hard way to feel, but you and I aren’t the only ones who’ve felt that way.

  • Jannelle

    Thank you so much, you are like my angel during this difficult time. I did make a list of things and it has helped, but this fear is very amazing–it’s unreal! I kinda thought the “it doesn’t feel right” was an easy one to lean. The other red flags were pretty straight forward and “it doesn’t feel right” is easy to question. For me saying “it doesn’t feel right” is just saying that they way I’m feeling doesn’t feel right nothing to do with my relationship. My relationship feels right! Thanks for saying “Prior to this anxiety, you felt secure in your relationship. Trust that, even when you can’t feel it.” I have been telling myself the same thing! I also liked your advice of “don’t make any decisions when you’re in the fear moments”. It’s embarrassing to say but I have been on the floor in the fetal position just crying a few times during our engagment- and thank God my fiance knows who I really am- even when I can’t find the real me!

    Thanks again, I smile and cry tears of happiness every time I read your responses. It is so nice to hear that this is normal and it is really sad that more people don’t talk about this! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

  • Natalie

    Whether or not it’s “normal,” it was normal for me, and it’s normal for you. I think most brides go through this on some level… we’re just some of the lucky ones who go through it with a hypersensitivity to it all! Isn’t it great? 🙂

    I’m glad I can be of some help. Focus on what you knew prior to the engagement anxiety and the fact that your fiance is so kind and good that he understands this is not about him. He really does sound like a keeper. 🙂

  • JT

    Jannelle,

    Everything you wrote is exactly how I’m feeling now. My wedding is 3 months away and I feel like I’m going crazy. I’m just wondering if you have had your wedding already and if you did, How did you feel on your wedding day? I’m so scared that I’m going to feel so disconnected from my fiance which is how I feel now. And I fear that this will all carry over till after my wedding. I’d love to hear how you feel now.

  • Janelle

    I’m actually two days away from my wedding and i’m feeling much better..it’s definitely the anticipation of it all that got me! my best advice is to not be scared to feel your feelings and to know that you’re not a horrible person… i thought that i was trying to feel my feelings but i was actually entreching them further…now that i have let go and stopped trying to control me feelings…i’ve realized that everything will be fine…..i would have to say that i was definitely depressed and the inner bonding website and videos helped me sooo much and made me feel like i wasn’t a horrible person..i’m still working through those fear feelings but i’m so much better now! good luck the engagement period is absolutely horrible but so worth it!

  • JT

    Oh I’m so happy to hear that. The one thing that I keep doing is trying to feel my feelings. Like trying to feel my love for my fiance and when I can’t I start to freak out and my doubts and fears start to take control of me. I’ve started to realize that I can’t just will my self to feel a certain way, but I consistantly do it. Then everytime I’m around my fiance I start to get anxious cause I’m not feeling the way I want to. Its like a never ending cycle. I’m certainly better then I was before I found this site but all my fears are still there.
    I’m happy to hear that you are doing better and wish you all the best this weekend!!!!

  • There’s a very important distinction that needs to be made between feeling the core transition feelings of grief, loss, disorientation, and loneliness and the feelings that are created by the anxious, fear-based thoughts. It’s critical to allow yourself to feel the core feelings and to understand what the fear-based thoughts are that are creating the anxiety and depression. The tricky thing about transitions – especially the wedding – is that we have so many false beliefs and unrealistic expectations that make it challenging to just allow the core transition feelings to emerge without attaching meaning to them. For example, if you’re feeling disconnected from yourself – which is a hallmark of the liminal stage – you will naturally feel disconnected from everyone around you, including your fiance. We then think, “Oh my god. I’m not feeling connected to my fiance. I must not love him enough. I must be making a mistake. What’s wrong with me?” and the vicious cycle begins. So much of this work around the wedding transition is discovering and then letting go of the unrealistic expectations and then allowing the core feelings to just be that: a feeling.

  • JT

    Sheryl,

    That is exactly how I feel. I don’t feel connected to myself or anyone around me. That exact thought went through my head that this must mean I don’t love my fiance. That we’re not meant to be together. But before all of these emotions and fears started happening I never had a second thought about marrying him. I’ve been with him for 10 years and I’ve always known he was the one. Its just now when we’re together my thoughts are constantly obsessing over how I am feeling and I get so worked up. Luckily he is so supportive and I’m able to talk to him about all of this. I’m almost jealous of him at times because he says that he is scared too but he seems to be able to handle so much better than me and I get so upset. I’ve just been trying to tell myself that these are all normal feelings and reading this blog really helps me to understand it a little better.

  • admin

    They ARE normal feelings, I promise you. They’re the defining feelings of any transition, but they’re so difficult to validate around a wedding because they’re directly opposed to what we’re told we SHOULD be feeling.

  • PJ

    Sheryl,

    I guess another fear in all this that I have is “what is love?” How do I know if “I was ever in love” if I’ve never really known what to compare love to, how do I know “I’m in love”. Basically, what I’m saying is, is that I have no idea what love is, and since I’m having these fears and doubts about the wedding, this must mean I’m not in love right? Anybody else have these thoughts?

  • JT

    I have had these same thoughts too. I’ve been with my fiance for 10 years he is the only relationship I have ever been in. I’ve never wanted to be with anyone else and still don’t. When I start questioning whether or not I truelly love my fiance its so hard for me to know because I have nothing to compare it too. Then I start question “What is love?”, “How do I know I’m in love?”, “Does this mean I don’t love him?”. What has helped me is identifying these thoughts as anxious thoughts and trying not to engage them. If I do, the whole cycle of negative thoughts gets stronger and I can’t get out of. I have spent a lot of time with my thoughts trying to really get to know what is driving this. And I’m scared, I’m scared to get married, I’m scared to commit myself to someone for the rest of my life, I’m scared to grow up, I’m scared to be responsible for myself and someone else. I am scared to death of all the “What ifs”. But I know deep down that I am exactly where I want to be because I choose to be here and if I ran away from all this I would probably be scared with the next person I would be with.

    It really does help to identify the thoughts as a fear and the fact that your in a transition of the total unknown and just let yourself be and talking about it really helps. It has taken me awhile to be at this point and this site has really helped me.

  • PJ

    Yep, those are the same questions running through my head this very instance. This is my longest relationship I’ve ever been in, where before, I only dated, never was a “relationship type”. I find myself really wondering if I’m in love, and if I ever really was that into my fiance or loved my fiance. The assumption is that when your engaged and getting married, your supposed to be “in love” but theres no crystal ball telling me whether I’m actually in love with my partner, and since I don’t feel a certain way, maybe I’m not. Thus, I shouldn’t be getting married to somebody I don’t think or know I’m in love with. The fear is “who wants to get married to somebody they are not in love with?” However, how do I even know that I quote “love” my fiance?

  • JT

    The expectation of how to feel is certainly something that I have struggled with as well. But who is to say we are suppose to feel something. The assumption that when we get married or engaged we are suppose to be “in love” – thats exactly what it is an assumption. Who is to tell us how we are suppose to feel. You feel what you feel and thats it, its just a feeling. I just try to focus on how I felt before I was engaged. I was happy with my fiance and knew that I wanted to be with him before all these fears started coming up.

  • PJ

    Thanks, yeah, its just tough right now, getting better

  • KD

    So thankful to have come across this post today. Everything mentioned above has been a thought in my head these past weeks. Never did I imagine myself to be going through this right now – to be completely overtaken by fear, doubt, to feel completely disconnected from my fiance, my friends and even myself. It hurts. It is all-consuming. It forgets the last 5 years I’ve spent with someone, and the positivity and hopefulness I had (or thought I had) before becoming engaged. I probably would have broken off the engagement had I not found Conscious Weddings/Conscious Transitions. Thank you for reassuring me, again, that it is OK. Yes, these fears may go away, or they may get worse, but to face them.

    In all of this, I am curious, how do we best deal with our significant other? He has been so patient and supportive, but I can only imagine what my reaction would be if the tables were turned.

  • Gmjersey

    I’m also curious on how to handle my fiance. He is so supportive and I like to share with him but sometimes i feel like i’m going to cause him more grief by telling him every little thing i feel. I also am having trouble getting motivated at all- I feel so depressed at times. Is anyone else having a hard time planning the actual wedding when you feel doubt and fear and anxiety? I try to get things done when I’m in a good mood and feel good but I wish i was enjoying the planning a bit more.

  • KD

    I know it’s hard to think about the day when you’re feeling so down. I’m struggling with that now. When my maid of honor is sending me a free subscription to “Brides” magazine, my friend is providing design concepts for the save the dates, and my future mother-in-law wants to know what color dress she should avoid, it’s challenging to put up a happy front and not clue them in to what you’re really thinking. Don’t feel forced to plan. Planning will come when you’re feeling better. Just surround yourself with people you can trust as much as possible now.