Guest post: Anxiously engaged by Anna

Sheryl contacted me and asked me to write a guest post about my engagement experience, which was full of anxiety and fear about getting married. I was a client of Sheryl’s during that time and continue to follow her work as I move forward with new life transitions – like parenthood!

The last thing I ever expected when I said “yes” to my husband’s proposal was to feel the way I felt.

We had dated for two years and I knew early on that we would marry. We were best friends. We shared the same values, belief system, goals in life. We meshed perfectly and our differences complimented each other like two characters out of a John Hughes film. He proposed on a Tuesday night and after the excited phone calls ended, joyful tears had dried and the champagne was gone, a wave of unease washed over me.

I tried to ignore it – I was nervous about wedding planning, I told myself. But as time went on, and the more I tried to ignore my growing anxiety, the worse I felt. I finally called my dad and broke down sobbing. He assured me it was all normal and even expected, since I came from a long line of worriers.

But that didn’t ease my fears: fears of making a mistake, of not loving my husband, of being incompatible. Suddenly, things that never bothered me before were now glaring differences that would surely lead to divorce. Things that never irritated me before were now monumental. When I looked at him, I couldn’t feel anything. He felt like a stranger, like I hadn’t just spent the last two years getting to know him.

How could I have been so sure that we would marry and spend our lives together just a short while ago? What had happened to all those wonderful, secure feelings about the man I was supposed to marry? I questioned constantly if I was making the right decision, and was endlessly anxious about the thought of marriage. Did I love him enough? What if one of us has an affair? What if I didn’t like being married –after all, I’d never been married before so what if I felt trapped? What if I married the wrong person and the right person was still out there? Was I too young, or had I lived enough on my own? I would hone in on divorcing celebrity couples and wonder if we were doomed to the same fate. I questioned married couples, divorced coworkers and even friends who had called off weddings because I was so desperate for an answer to the ultimate question: should I, or should I not get married? I so wanted someone to hand me a crystal ball, look into the future, and tell me what to do.

Thankfully I stumbled across the Conscious Weddings website when searching the Internet for “anxious about getting married” early on in my engagement journey. I worked with Sheryl for several sessions to discuss why I was so afraid of getting married and the fears surrounding my impending marriage. So many of my fears were rooted in being afraid of growth, of letting go of my old life, and fears of making a mistake. I also took steps to deal with the underlying problem of anxiety around transitions and life changes.

wedding I was still nervous on my wedding day, but knew that I was consciously choosing to marry my husband – for better or for worse. The anxiety slowly dissipated after the wedding and I began to see just how much fear had overtaken my ability to see things clearly. Though my engagement was an emotional trauma, it forced me to take a hard look at why I was getting married, false assumptions I had about engagement and marriage (that everyone is happy and 100% sure that they’re making the right decision!), and misconceptions I had about marriage. I truly believe our marriage foundation is stronger because we didn’t enter it with blinders on and unrealistic expectations.

My husband and I will be married for four years this coming December and I know now that I absolutely made the right decision. When you have a solid foundation with someone, being anxiously engaged or having fears about marriage is not an indication of how your marriage will turn out. Too often we hear the message of “if you have doubts, don’t…”, but how many opportunities in life would we miss out on if we let fear and doubt make the decision for us? I am so grateful that I didn’t listen to my fears and allow fear to decide the fate of my marriage, because I would have missed out on building a phenomenal partnership with an amazing person. There is no greater feeling than knowing the person you chose to marry (and they chose you, too!) is going to stick it through with you when life gets tough.

There is no crystal ball for us to look into, and we can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, much less 50 years from now. But every day, we can make the choice to love our partners to the best of our abilities. It is worth going through the fear and the process of dealing with the doubts and questions. Because in the end, you will be able to stand at the altar and know you are willfully choosing your partner for life.

13 comments to Guest post: Anxiously engaged by Anna

  • Leisha Clendenen

    Beautifully put Anna!

  • Natalie

    Anna, my friend, I couldn’t have described it better myself!

  • Belinda

    Great post Anna – sounded like you were describing my engagement! What shocked me when I first discovered the Conscious Bride website was that there are so many other people going through the same doubts and fears – but we never talk about it because we are ‘supposed’ to be 100% happy! I have been married for 10 weeks now and the expectation of being a blissfully happy newlywed is still there – pushing from society. If only people weren’t so judgemental when it came to love and marriage – I feel that if I was to tell people what I was feeling they would judge my relationship as a “bad” relationship – and that is so far from the truth. My husband is a supportive, senstive and wonderful man – but that doesn’t stop my doubts and fears because I have always dealt with change and transitions feeling like I was unable to cope.
    I also wished so many times for a crystal ball to tell me what to do!! I tried to sublety ask friends and family if I was doing the right thing, and I did heaps of internet research. I am so glad I did the internet research -because I never would have found the Conscious Bride website – which helped me SOOO much.
    Thanks Anna for your honest account of your experience.

    • Anna

      Belinda – you’re definitely right. We live in a society that primarily believes that if you have any doubt about ANYTHING (marriage, jobs, children, etc.) then you shouldn’t move forward, and that’s tough to hear when all you feel is doubt! It was VERY scary for me to voice my doubts and fears because I felt like people would seriously question why I was getting married, even though the last thing I wanted was for someone to tell me to call it off.

      For me, it has been very freeing to accept that I will always struggle wtih doubt and fear surrounding transitions. It makes the doubts not seem so scary. 🙂

  • Belinda

    Yes, I totally agree Anna – I felt freedom too when I realised that unfortunately, no matter what the situation is, I will always struggle with big decisions and change.
    But, with the marriage decision, I felt it was a lot harder to be honest with other people about my feelings because of the fear that they would tell me to call it off! And I also didn’t want anyone at my wedding thinking that ‘the wedding was a sham because I didn’t really want to do it’, which was the furthest thing from the truth.
    In the end my dad was a great help, because he is quite similar to me and went through some of the same thoughts when he got married. I remember telling him that even if I got put in a mental hospital could he please bring my fiance and a minister there so we could get married! Coz I knew I wanted to marry my now husband, it was just the fear of doing it that was really playing with me.
    The week before my wedding was shocking – but surprisingly the night before and the morning of I was so relaxed and ready. And I am SOOOOO glad I went through with it – I hate to think what I would be like now if I hadn’t gone through with it. We aren’t perfect still and we still have arguments etc – but we love each other and love the commitment we made to each other on that day.
    Bel

  • Nikki

    Ladies,

    I just want you all to know that I am so happy I found this site. My boyfriend and I got engaged in February of this year and since about 2 days after the engagement I have been living in doubt and fear. I’ve tried to reach out to my friends (all of whom are not married or even close, so they simply roll their eyes at me) and my family (who are in love with my fiancé and just want us to be happy) but they can’t seem to relate to my fear.

    My boyfriend is amazing, a genuine catch who loves and supports me. He has supported me since the first sign of fear but I don’t want to tell him the real extent of how I feel because I don’t want to hurt him. I’ve felt very alone, which now that I read this site, is silly because obviously I am not the first person in the world to get married! 🙂

    Just knowing that there are other stable, confident, motivated women out there that have doubts about their (soon-to-be) marriage to a GREAT guy makes me fell less alone in my struggle. I’ve felt an amazing amount of guilt for not being on cloud nine because I am in love and loved by an amazing person who wants nothing but my happiness.

    Long story short, thanks to all of you for posting on this, especially to those who are married now and over came these feelings. It’s nice to know that things don’t have to be perfect in love and in marriage.

    I can’t even put my appreciation into words.

    Thank you.

  • […] 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 […]

  • Jannelle

    Hi girls. This question is directed more toward the people that are already married. When you were engaged, how were you feeling, happy most of the time, or really depressed, or a little of both. Has anyone ever had the fear of saying forever. This is my fear lately I’m wondering how I can promise forever when I don’t even know what will happen in a year from now. Before we were engaged I could promise forever so easily, but now I’m scared to death. I think it is mostly b/c if someone would have told me a year ago that I’d be like this about getting married I would have laughed in there face. My fiance and I have been together for the last 10 years and I was the one begging him to get married and now I’m the one freaking out. I just don’t understand what’s going on. I’m getting married next month and I have been dealing with these feelings for the last year….am I making a mistake? Also, for the married women did you have that deep feeling of knowing that you were making the right choice. Sometimes I have that feeling while other times I’m not sure!! PLEASE HELP!!

  • Jannelle

    Does anyone have facebook where we could chat back and forth on IM?

  • Julia

    I am so glad I came across this posting. I have been having anxious thoughts about my upcoming marriage and I really feel like I’ve been going crazy. Little things like the volume of his voice have started bothering me and I’ll just sit there and obsess about these things. I’ve been questioning our compatibility since our engagement, and it was never a question before. He is a great man and he treats me like a queen, but I’ve been picking him apart. My mom was married and divorced three times and it terrifies me to my very core that I might be making the wrong decision. At the same time I think that even if he were the absolute perfect man who never made any mistakes and was built just for me.. that I would still be having these fears. I question my ability to handle a long term relationship. We’ve been together now for years and were friends before that. I’ve talked to my mom about it but as much as she tries to help she kind of just makes things worse. After all.. it never worked out for her. My dad had a nervous breakdown when my mom left him, and to this day (over 15 years later) has never been in a relationship since. What if I leave my husband down the road and ruin his life? He is a good man, I don’t want to break his heart. My parents are paying for the wedding.. what if we don’t work out and I waste their time and money? This is a significant amount of my fathers savings. I am a mental mess. The wedding isn’t for another 8 months and I don’t know how to handle this anxiety.. but it’s good to know that other people have been in similiar situations. (though I realize these posts are two years old now).

  • AD

    Hi Julia,

    I am planning to join the Ecourse this week and I have to encourage you to do the same. For the past five weeks, I have been devouring this blog. I can honestly say it is the number one reason that I haven’t run. Just like you, I have the same fears and obsessive thoughts. Journaling and therapy do help, but you owe it to yourself to give your marriage a chance. Every single person who has written on this board speaks from the heart as if they are me. I bet you will feel the same. Hope this helps. I’m also getting married in eight months and every day I tell myself that this happened for a reason- to make my marriage stronger in the long run.

  • Thankful

    I have been engaged for over a year and the wedding is in less than 3 months. I have had the same feelings as many of you and cannot express how relieved I am to have found all of this. I am so depressed and beginning to resent my fiance. Its horrible. I just need to get out of my head and go with the flow (not easy to do for me!) I haven’t even enjoyed planning the wedding. There are some definite issues we need to work through and I am trying but I see now that we will be FINE. I just need to calm down! 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart! <3

  • Marie

    I’m so glad I found this site. My fiance proposed to me in December and since then I have struggled with the idea that maybe we’re not right for each other. He’s a great man but I struggle with whether I’m capable of having a healthy marriage (although we’ve been in a relationship almost 9 years) because both my parents had terrible relationships. My mother never married my dad and does not seem too excited about the wedding while my dad recently got married for the third time. I don’t feel like I can talk to my siblings because both of my sisters are not engaged/married and feel like I’m being crazy and should be happy to be in a relationship. I have one brother that’s been divorced and talks about how everything seemed to change after the “I dos”. I really don’t want to screw this up. I’m so glad to know that others have had anxiety about marriage as well.