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Welcome to this collection of sample posts from the archived Conscious Weddings Message Board! If you’re struggling with engagement anxiety and the fear/terror of marriage, you’ve come to the right place. Nearly every person who frequented these boards and crossed over the threshold to marriage credits the board as one of the primary reasons they were able to say NO to fear and YES to love. As Topanga said in response to an extremely anxious bride,
“First of all, you’ve definitely come to the right place. I’m glad that reading previous posts has made you feel better. I can say without a doubt that this board (and Sheryl’s book) is the only reason I made it through my engagement. The women here are incredibly empathetic and wise. I think of this board as a combination of group therapy and family! No matter what your ultimate decision is, we’ll be here to help talk you through everything and come to terms with your decision.”
Most of these wise women have also been invited to join the conversation on the NEW password-protected Conscious Weddings E-Course Forum, which will be available to you as soon as you purchase the Course. Here you will find a safe, supportive environment in which to share your fears, challenges, questions, anxiety, and, ultimately, your clarity and joy. If there’s one reason to sign up for the E-Course, this is it! Instead of searching the Internet for answers to your doubts and anxieties and only feeling more anxious, you can open and avail yourself to the only Message Board where people understand that doubt doesn’t mean don’t and that fear is a normal and necessary part of the marriage transition.
I’ve included the Table of Contents and one sample post from the first four of the seven lessons. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here for you as I’ve been here for thousands of anxious women and men before you. It’s my deepest commitment to help people understand and work through their anxiety and find their truth and serenity around life’s transitionp.
Table of Contents for Sample Posts
Lesson One TOC and Sample Post
Lesson Two TOC and Sample Post
Lesson Three TOC and Sample Post
Lesson Four TOC and Sample Post
This is the Table of Contents of the Posts and a Sample Post from Lesson One of the E-Course: “What’s Wrong With Me?” or “Understanding Your Personality Type and an Overview of Transitions”. “Nenya” and “Letsbehappy”, who offer wise responses to the lead post, are both interviewed in depth in the E-Course as well.
Table of Contents for Lesson One Posts
Acknowledging the Transition Vs Actually Transitioning …………….. 3
The Conscious Fiancé …………………………………………………………………… 10
Favorite Posts …………………………………………………………… 14
Fear of Loss ……………………………………………………………….. 21
Grief and Family Ties ……………………………………………………. 36
Grieving the End of Single Life …………………………………………. 49
Birthdays, Mortality, and Engaged Encounter ………………………… 66
Letting Go ………………………………………………………………….. 68
Question about the Men in our Lives …………………………………… 73
Painful Choices and the Advantage of Closing a Few Doors ………… 81
Best Friend Got Engaged ……………………………………………… 83
Transitions …………………………………………………………………. 87
What An Engagement “Should” Be …………………………………….. 96
Acknowledging the transition v. ACTUALLY transitioning/letting go
|confusedofcourse||Acknowledging the transition v. ACTUALLY transitioning/|
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Hi ladies —
Sorry I haven’t been on in a few days. Life has been insane getting ready for the wedding, orchestrating a move to a new city, preparing to change jobs, etc. For a while, I was doing so much better. With the help of the boards, a counselor, and a lot of good friends, I was really moving into a good place. Unfortunately, I am not in that good place anymore, and I was wondering if I could ask your advice. Throughout my engagement, I have had trouble with transitions involving:
(1) letting go of single life
(2) adjusting family ties (my own, and being very scared of joining his family in any way)
(3) letting go of ex-boyfriends (old feelings for them, comparing my fiance to them, worrying about their feelings about my marriage)
(4) accepting what it means (and doesn’t?) to be a wife
(5) letting go of all my millions of subconscious fantasies about my engagement, my wedding and my marriage
(6) letting go of what I perceive to be others’ expectations/judging views of my life, my fiance, my wedding, my marriage
So I have journaled about these, cried about these, screamed about these. In other words, I THOUGHT I HAD GRIEVED THEM. Well, now I’m 11 days out, and every single last one of them is hitting me like a ton of bricks. Some are harder than others (for example, I’m realizing just how much I was clinging on to things re: old boyfriends and to fantasies about engagement and marriage, and so letting go is particularly hard
I’ve realized that these things are issues for me. I thought I’d addressed them. But here they are, again, and stronger than ever, making me not only scared to get married, but downright gloomy about getting married. I feel like Eeyore — walking around with a big rain cloud above my head.
So my question is this: HOW do you TRULY TRULY let go? Perhaps it’s unrealistic (and tied up in my fantasy) that I’ll totally let go by the wedding. But I’d at least like to make progress, lest I look like a misanthrope as I trudge, dirge-like, down the aisle. So I ask you ladies, if you don’t mind, HOW did you let things go? Once and for all? (Or at least well enough to not be in the dumps)?
|Nenya14||Short but sweet||#1||[-]|
|Hi there confused—
First, I’m sorry to hear you are feeling a rough spot again and are feeling very challenged. That must feel so hard given the timing and circumstances which is no doubt hugely compounded by the logistics of getting so close to the wedding with planning and details and such. Take a breather!!
My thoughts on this are going to be very short and sweet because at the moment I cannot surmise anything more than…..that at some point in the game, one has to take a leap of faith into marriage. Leaps of faith can be about anything—but I think in taking a leap of faith you are CHOOSING to cast your doubts aside and just go with it. The way I feel is, if everyone truly took the time and consciousness to realize what marriage is and what it entails—everyone would be freaked out to some degree. It feels like a big deal because it IS a big deal. I think getting married is one of the most courageous things one can do in this day and age really (and not only get married—but stay married–for the right reasons).|
At some point you just have to TRUST that things are going to work out for you. I know for me–I didn’t have a whole lot of self-trust in my judgment and stuff and that had a lot to do with my engagement struggles.
Also let go of the idea that you are going to be 100% perfect on your wedding day. Nothing can prepare you for marriage except marriage itself…so you just have to dive in and learn to swim. All the things you listed don’t HAVE to be “all tied up in a neat package” by your wedding day. I think Sheryl says on the front page of this website something about the first few years of marriage transition. Yes, for you, your transition greatly started in engagement but that doesn’t mean it has to be DONE by your wedding day. I have been married a little over 1.5 years now and I would say that my transition FINALLY seems to be pretty cooled down. I’m now immersed in this next transition of going back to grad school and becoming a mother in the next 3-5 years. Hey there is always more change waiting for you around the corner, hehehe.
My point is, growth is a process, sometimes it ebbs and flows and starts and stalls but be patient with yourself. You are only human! I think that as you forgive yourself more for not being totally perfect right now, you will feel calmer and more centered, as you let go of how you HAVE to feel, you will begin to naturally feel the imminent joy. Lastly you will so not be trudging down the aisle!! I smiled so hard it looks like veins are going to pop in my neck because I was trying not to completely bawl from emotion and happiness. Oh and get a massage PRONTO. That was the best practical thing I did for myself–that and a date night with then-FH without any wedding discussion allowed (or thoughts!). Take care, Nenya
|Hi Nenya — thank you so much for your kind response. I think it’s ironic that I’m being a perfectionist about not being a perfectionist (i.e., “I must perfectly get over my perfectionist instinct!”) HA!|
I have a massage scheduled for next week (unfortunately, I’m stuck at work through this week trying to finish 800 things before I hand over the reins).
I just so didn’t want marriage to have a “dark underbelly.” But it does. It’s a tough transition, and even though when you’re moving toward engagement you think it will be all china patterns and blissful romps through the flowers or something, it’s really not like that. I wish I’d known that when I was 4 or 5, when it seems these ideas got implanted in my subconscious (that’s as far back as I can remember, and my “expectations” seem to go back to the beginning of time….) . I don’t know where I ‘learned” all this (probably lots of places), but it seems that I was trained not only to “be perfect,” but to “feel perfect” (and the way to “feel perfect” was to work hard enough such that I would “be perfect.”) So right now, my instinct is to “DO” something — journal, yoga, go on a spiritual retreat in Bali — to get to that “perfect” place. As I said in the beginning, being perfectionistic about not being perfectionistic. Sigh. I will try to just be, and not do.
Thanks, Nenya…I hope I can get some of your “zen.”
|Nenya14||Honestly why doesn’t anyone tell us!!||#3||[-]|
|Seriously—why did no one really tell us about how engagement really would be!! I was talking to a friend’s fiance a couple weeks ago and she was having a hard time and they were arguing more/not getting along as well (this is a couple that have been together FOREVER and have always treated each other beautifully) and she confided in her FMIL and her FMIL said that engagement can be the toughest time for a relationship (she’s still happily married almost 30 years). I laughed and said, yeah how come no one told us about that?? It’s funny though that now that I am married and love being married, I have to catch myself from getting all crazy and excited when someone gets engaged (are you so happy, isn’t this so exciting, etc.) which is hilarious since a lot of my engagement was really lonely and hard…so I also remember to tell the person that they can always share with me and that it’s okay to feel scared and that it’s important to recognize this as a huge transition and know that transitions can be very challenging.|
I seriously think getting engaged was the most life and growth propelling action I have taken in my whole life. And that says a lot. I know you will probably cringe a little when I say this but if you can find a way to be GRATEFUL for your struggles, I think you will find yourself letting go of your perfectionism. Perfect is boring anyhow!!
Real life is not the movies. It is not choreographed, directed, touched up and edited. Real life is messy and painful and beautiful and tender. I cherish my love way more than I could some movie-perfect love that came all too easily….
|Hi confusedofcourse, Oh, I have felt so much of what you wrote, and I’m so sorry it’s come back like this at this particular moment. I’m imagining for you to have come this far that you probably leaned on your fiance a good deal. If that’s the case, and he knows what the anxiety is all about (b/c the two of you have been through it before), and is feeling pretty solid/ steady himself, then you might consider leaning on him again now. Not pouring out your every ‘what if’ question to him of course, but simply letting him hold you, take you to the movies (if you have any time?!), anything that is familiar to the two of you. For me, even if I felt like running or hiding under the blankets, I found it was incredibly liberating when I finally did let myself surrender to his support. Does this make sense? Of course, this is only what worked for me, and it may or may not make sense for you. But, as Nenya said, knowing that you don’t have to be perfect anytime soon (or EVER!) is the real key. And knowing that you really want to grow up, embrace this new phase of life, and embrace your partner in it, no matter how you might be ‘feeling’ at a particular moment. Finally, if you have a therapist who you are able to see more frequently during this time I think that could be really helpful. I saw that someone on here called her therapist the day before and the day of her wedding. I’m thinking of asking mine for her cell phone number just in case. It is okay to need help, and it is wonderful to accept the help that you need, whether it is from your fiance, your therapist, your friends, or anyone else. I never knew how much help I needed until I got engaged. At first that was the worst realization in the world I could have ever had (that I couldn’t ‘handle’ this on my own); but now I realize what a gift it is to learn how to accept the help we need. Be gentle with yourself. Thinking of you…|
|I was where you are a couple of years ago and I had all of your transition issues. Like Nenya said, the force that the transitions have in our life ebbs and flows.|
I am still transitioning two years into being married. I won’t say it’s a constant struggle, but more like a learning experience. The first few months were particularly hard, not at all blissful. This being said, there is something that I have been working on in the transition department. Currently, we want to start a family soon and I am full of fear. “What ifs” seem to replace the joyous thoughts of having children. However, the main issue in all of this is identity. Regardless of if I am a mom, a wife, a sister a daughter, a teacher, a coach, a friend, a professional, a stay-at-home mom……I am always ME!!!! You never have to completely “let go” of everything you once were. All of your past (for better or worse) shapes who you are today. Slowly the power of your thoughts will have less control over you and you will be able to become more in line with your life now as a married woman. Again, however, married or not, you are always you. I know this may sound quite simplistic and cliche, but it’s helped me tremendously. It’s replaced the obsessive thoughts with peace and calm because no matter how I am feeling, I know they are just thoughts and I am the only one giving them power.
You are in such a gray area right now. So many changes- I think Sheryl calls it liminality? No wonder you feel out of sorts. Treat yourself kindly. Celebrate all that is good with you. The emotional work has started. It should never end. However, you will be able to handle future transitions will much greater grace and ease.
Nobody is perfect so you should never expect your thoughts to be perfect. Live in the now and try to not attach your thoughts to anything or think they are signs. You are doing fabulous! I hope your special day is wonderful!
Here’s the Table of Contents for Lesson 2: “Why Is My Partner Driving Me Crazy?” or “Understanding Projection” and Erin’s first post, whose MP3 interview is included in Lesson 2. She has now been happily married for several years and is expecting her first child (as of January 2011).
Table of Contents for Lesson Two Posts
Annoyed with Fiancé …………………………..…………………………. 3
The Differences Around Transitions………….…………………………………… 11
Do We Have Enough Fun? ……………………………………………… 14
Erin’s First Post ………….……………………………………………….. 17
Indecision To Commit ..………………………………………………….. 23
Happiness From Within ………………………………………………… 27
Immaturity …………………………………………………………………. 33
Opposites Attract …………………………………………………………. 37
New to the community–please help
|TrustAndLove||New to the community–please help||Lead||[-]|
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Wow. I’ve been reading this message board pretty obsessively over the last several days! It always seems to make me feel better.
I got engaged about four months ago. Everything was going okay until we were about to sign the contract for the location–and I flipped out (this was about six weeks ago). I am consumed by doubts and anxieties.
The very hardest part for me is that, unlike the brides in Sheryl’s book, I never felt like marrying my FI was absolutely the right thing for me. There’s nowhere in myself that I can look and say, “Ah, yes. Things are terribly stressful and terrifying right now, but I love him, and I want to marry him.”
All throughout our nearly two-year relationship, I have felt nagging doubts and a lack of true connection. But I have terrible problems with dissociation (not feeling present with myself or with others), so I thought, “OK, I’m doing the best I can, and the fact is that my FI has lots of wonderful, loving qualities, and since I’ve never felt really, really close to ANYONE, it’s probably not surprising that I don’t feel all that close to him.” Plus, I looked at the things about him that really bothered me, and we talked about and worked through them. We communicate beautifully, and we are also playful with each other. He is very bright and loving, and I feel we are on equal footing in our relationship. And I have an exceptional therapist and psychiatrist, both of whom help me with anxieties and depression in general (I hadn’t had a major depressive episode for several years on the medication I take–I decreased my dose steadily over the last two years without any ill effects–until now. Now I’m basically back up to where I was, which I’m OK with, since it makes me able to look at all this other stuff.)
Now, though, I’m feeling like I never really felt connected to him, that no part of me can say I want to be with this man. And when I’m with him–or even when I think about him (we don’t yet live together)–I feel a mixture of anxiety, dread, warmth, and revulsion (I think the revulsion is a reaction to having him so close to me, closer than anyone). I don’t feel I can marry him when I feel like this. I don’t even think about having fun with him any more. In fact, we’re taking this week apart, because I’m hoping it will shake something loose, and he wants a break from seeing me like this. And that’s scared me, too, because I don’t miss him; I just feel anxious and sad.
My FI has been wonderful: I’ve talked to him about all this, and he’s been supportive but also strong in himself/frustrated/angry. We’ve gone to see a terrific couples counselor and have another appt with her next week. He’s losing patience, which I don’t blame him for (in fact, it makes me feel better, because he’s able to stand strong and not disappear into my pain).
I’ll end with how I started: I can’t find any place in myself that says, “marrying this man is right.” I can say I love him, for sure, but all these other feelings are making it almost unbearable!
So . . . any advice? Sorry for the loooong-winded post!
P.S.: One last thing: anyone out there also have a history of panic and depression? How do you think it figured into your own doubts and fears?
Last Edited By: TrustAndLove 10/08/08 12:20:27. Edited 1 time.
|Perhaps a good place to start is asking yourself “what is connection?” What is it? It’s an elusive term, like chemistry or even love. It means different things to different people. Is feeling connected an emotional state for you? When I think of being connected with my husband, the feeling usually happens when we’re “jiving” together, i.e. working together towards the same goal, being on the same wavelength about an issue, and so on. This is not a permanent emotional state; relationships are typically full of ups and downs. I do remember the first profound feeling I had after being engaged was not feeling “connected” to my fiance. I remember telling Sheryl about this! It was like my ability to be emotionally on the same page as my husband had suddenly disappeared and I couldn’t find it, no matter how hard I tried. Kind of felt like there was this palpable wall of fear between us. It was a strange feeling and I sympathize with how you’re feeling now. It hurt, and it made me so sad.|
When I was engaged, I really had no clue if it was the right thing, and that feeling of “things suck but I definitely want to marry him” wasn’t really there. At times the only thing keeping me going forward was that I felt about a million times worse when I thought of calling it off. The thought of not being with him felt worse than any sort of fear or doubt I had during engagement.
So to start, there are probably a few questions you can ask yourself and perhaps explore them with your therapist. The first being, what does connection mean to you, and how might you create times where closeness can occur with your fiance? What makes you feel loved, and how do you show love? (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is an excellent book on this). What is your expectation of the relationship in terms of being “connected?” Often – at least I found- my expectations of emotions in a relationship were totally off-base to the realities of a relationship; like, I should feel in love all the time or want to rip his clothes off every time I see him. Reality is, long-term relationships just don’t operate that way. Long-term relationships go through times of feeling close, and feeling distant. One day you might want to kiss him all over, the next day you want to rip his head off. This was HUGE for me to learn. I didn’t have to be feeling a certain way 100% of the time to know that our relationship was a great one.
Sometimes when we try to force certain feelings, the more distant they become and the lack of the feeling is that much more exaggerated. I suppose you could say that your feeling of connection was my feeling of love while I was engaged. I was forever trying to figure out if I really loved my husband or not because I could not “feel” it. The simple (and not so simple) answer is to just stop searching for it. The deepest feelings of love, and deepest feelings of connection happen in the times we least expect it, when we’re not on the hunt for it and trying to force it to be there.
The last question I think you should ask yourself is what is your desire? What is your want? Do you WANT to marry him? Forgetting all of the fear or lack of emotions, what do you want deep down? The reason I ask this, is your comment about no part of you saying you want to be with your fiance. In my situation, despite all the crappy feelings, I wanted to marry my husband. Yes I felt scared, sometimes so scared I couldn’t even get out of bed or make it through the day without breaking down, but in the end, what I *wanted* was to get married. What do you want?
|Trustandlove, first of all, you’ve definitely come to the right place. I’m glad that reading previous posts has made you feel better. I can say without a doubt that this board (and Sheryl’s book) is the only reason I made it through my engagement. The women here are incredibly empathetic and wise…I think of this board as a combination of group therapy and family! No matter what your ultimate decision is, we’ll be here to help talk you through everything and come to terms with your decision.|
You said that you feel a lack of a true connection. I just finished reading a book called “Will Our Love Last” (I think that’s the title). The author theorizes that there are three main areas of compatibility: Practical, Sexual, and Wavelength. He says that couples can be in sync in none, some, or all of the dimensions. It’s possible that you and your FI are in sync in one or two of those areas (which is why you were able to sustain such a long-term relationship), but not all three. At any rate, I would suggest reading the book to see what you can get from it. I don’t agree with everything the author says (I think Sheryl’s book paints a much more realistic picture of marriage), but it’s worth looking into. You said that thinking about him provokes mixed feelings of anxiety, dread, and warmth. Have you always been this way with him or is this a recent development? Also, as for your concern that the brides in Sheryl’s book “knew” through the stress that getting married was right for them, I think the way you said that makes it a little too simplistic. Fear can totally skew your perceptions. At the height of my anxiety, I remember my mother asking me: “Do you want to marry him?” and I remember hysterically crying and saying, “I don’t know.” I had no idea what I wanted. The idea of marrying him filled me anxiety and made me feel terrible, but the idea of NOT marrying him produced the same reaction. I felt like I was literally stuck. I can’t speak for any of the other women on this board, but from what I’ve read in the past few months, I don’t think I’m alone. Fear is a terrible thing. I told a story once in another post that I think speaks well to this point: When I was about 10 I went through a haunted house with my parents and, at the bottom of a set of stairs, was a werewolf in a cage (I had a terrible fear of wolves at this point in my life). I couldn’t move. My 6’4″ father could not make me move. I didn’t want to go backwards, but I also couldn’t force myself to go forward. During my engagement anxiety, my FI and I also took a day or two off because it was so terrible. I remember one day calling him and telling him that I didn’t want to see him. Even talking to him made me feel anxious/sick. I didn’t enjoy spending time with him. Most of our time together involved me being silent and scared or crying and telling him all the reasons why we shouldn’t get married. You can’t expect to enjoy yourself when you’re consumed by anxiety. Happiness and contentment are things that can only come when the mind is relaxed and open to those experiences. I would recommend trying some prayer, meditation, and/or exercise. Anything to clear your mind.
I think it’s telling that you’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety, but I have a feeling ThinkBee or something else will speak more eloquently to that than I could.
In the mean time, hold on and stay strong. We’ve all been there too. You’re not alone. 🙂
Have you ever wondered if you have enough spark in your relationship? Do you wonder if your sex life is “good enough”? Do you wonder if you love your partner enough to marry him? These are some of the common questions that run through the posts in Lesson 3: “Do I Love My Partner Enough?” or “Understanding Real Love.” They’re also the common questions of the current, password-protect E-Course Forum. Here’s the Table of Contents for the Lesson 3 Posts:
Table of Contents for Lesson 3 Posts
Ambivalence …………………………..………………………………….. 3
The Real Love ………….………………………………………………………………. 10
Real Love versus In “In Love” …………………………………………… 12
Questioning and Nervous ……………………………………………….. 20
Love versus Infatuation ………………………………………………….. 27
Enough Spark? …………………………………………………………… 35
Book Recommendation: First Comes Marriage ………………………. 44
Book Recommendation: The Truth about Love ………………………. 49
Arranged Marriage and The Namesake ……………………………….. 53
Appreciation Lists ………………………………………………………… 56
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I was checking out the articles on the Conscious Weddings homepage and as I was reading through “Marriage is a Work in Progress” I was completed stopped and hugely spiked by the term “enough spark” – here it is in the sentence:
Like all courageous endeavors, marriage can and must evolve over time. We enter into it with the greatest of intentions, hope, and commitment. We spend enough time together to determine if the partnership is a good match in terms of shared values, enough spark, some ability to resolve conflict, and no serious red-flags.
I have pretty much always questioned whether or not my husband and I had “enough spark” to make things last. He’s a good, caring, generous, and hard-working man. But I worry because the thought of him or the presence of him (even after frequent absences) does not make my body tingle with excitement. I know that it’s not realistic to want to feel this way all the time, but I am missing the feeling completely. I sometimes feel as if I brace myself to tolerate him, to tolerate what our relationship is… which is good but boring. Even when we do “exciting” things together, I feel like the essence of our relationship is dull. I actually pondered aloud to him a few weeks back whether marriage was the right thing for me or not? Ugh, this is truly an awful feeling.
What does “enough spark” mean anyway?! I guess my major concern comes in because I shared A LOT of spark with an old boyfriend (whom I can’t seem to stop thinking about, even after being apart for six years). I wonder if my inability to let go of that feeling and the mental ties to that old relationship is preventing me from being truly intimate and creating sparks with my husband?
I feel AWFUL about feeling this way. I’ve been struggling so much with it. Any thoughts about how to decipher “enough spark” would be greatly appreciated!!
Did you read the other article (maybe it’s in the archives on the site) about the “old boyfriends”? Sheryl addresses this too. There is always one super hot boyfriend from the past that we had a sexually charged relationship with that we idealize once married/engaged. But there was a reason that boyfriend was not life-partner material. We tend to forget this when our husband/fiancé doesn’t do it for us. Remind yourself that there was a reason you didn’t end up with this guy.
I have asked myself the same question (is there enough spark?) and worried about the same thing, but I think it’s normal for attraction to wax and wane. For attraction to occur, you need intimacy, and for intimacy to occur, you need to connect with your husband. For me this means long, rambling conversations about meaningful topics like politics, art, family, etc. Whenever I lose track of time while talking to my husband about something stimulating and interesting, I feel like getting it on (for lack of a better description). Our minds are really our most powerful sex organ, and when I connect in meaningful ways it helps foster sexual attraction. Maybe for you doing something together like taking a walk, or talking about a movie that you’ve seen, or cooking together, or whatever you find stimulating would help you feel more attracted to your spouse. I think at this point expecting an immediate physical response every time you see your husband isn’t realistic. That *zing* only happens when someone is still somewhat of a mystery. Your husband isn’t a mystery anymore.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but I wanted to offer my two cents because I think this is a pretty common phenomenon. For me I need to talk a lot with my husband to feel connected, but for some women just cuddling or sitting together works too. Find what works for you.
|Also, don’t confuse spark with drama. I had what I thought was “spark” with my high school sweetheart, but what really was just me ALWAYS fighting for his attention. The more he pulled away, the closer I wanted to be to him and the more I chased him. The more attention he gave to other people, the more excited I became when it was my turn to get the attention. I do still think back on our relationship, because I was the one to break up with him knowing the relationship was bad but I don’t think I ever expressed it well or he ever realized just how much I felt hurt by him. I think that kind of “spark” is incredibly unfulfilling because it is that desire for closeness that just isn’t being met, making you continue to go after it.|
My fiancé was SO available to me in the beginning that the lack of drama and chase made me feel something was wrong. But it was really just what a healthy relationship was. I don’t constantly have those fluttery feelings for him anymore, but c’mon: I’ve seen the man vomit, poop on the toilet, etc. We’ve been together for almost 4 years. We have a lot of responsibilities and we know each others good and bad qualities. He has been working a lot lately and I do miss having him home, miss his company (I also miss the help around the house). But I also like having my space. Even when he IS home, sometimes he just wants to play video games and I just want to watch TV, so there isn’t that CRAVING to be near. I do still feel fluttery moments (not as frequently) but it’s because I’m not obsessing over it or forcing it. He does something sweet or says something and I just feel good, proud to be with him, thankful for who he is and the effort he makes. Just this morning FI said something a little snappy to me about something I did and then a few minutes later when I was trying to explain myself he came out and apologized saying he knew he shouldn’t have done that! This comes just after a conversation about me needing him to share responsibility in our disagreements so I was like, WOW he listened!
What is enough spark? How about, how do you define spark? If you are thinking of that excited feeling of the first touch, wondering if he is going to call, can’t wait until our next date feeling, I would say most married couples do not feel this way about each other after years of dating and then being under the same roof for a period of time. For me, spark is that feeling I get when our eyes meet during a group conversation and we both share a private joke or shared thought. It’s when we have one of those “complete your sentence” moments (they don’t always happen, but sometimes they do). It’s when he backs me up when I’m telling him about an argument with my mom. It happened when I realized he was crying during Marley and Me (and he is NOT a crier) and he got all embarrassed. It’s a different kind of connection from the lusty feelings of the first few months.
I also have always loved with other married women have said about this board about handling post-wedding anxiety. You are married. You made the choice. You weighed the options. You chose your husband. Now is no longer the time for questions like should I or should I not get/stay married. Now is the time for, okay I’m married, what can I do to make this relationship be all that it can? How can I temper my unrealistic expectations or fantasies? I don’t advocate staying in a BAD or UNHAPPY marriage, but I do believe making the effort and trying to get out of those “what if” thoughts. There is definitely a transition after the wedding that occurs and it is hard, but it’s important to try to adjust rather than just saying it was a mistake. No relationship sustains that high that you get at the beginning. The only way to sustain that in your life is to jump from one relationship to the next, leaving when it gets into that settled stage. Which is also a great way to avoid being vulnerable, avoid allowing someone to really know you, avoid actually having to work at it. I think there is a definitely a certain amount of compatibility needed to make a marriage work, but mostly it is what you do with that compatibility and how you focus on building the relationship rather than focusing on some of the things you don’t have, or don’t have enough of in your opinion.
|Thank you for the article tip! I was able to find it & read it. There were a lot of good points in there. (Isn’t Sheryl amazing? I will likely read it over and over again!) However, I wish I could figure out how to complete the transition out of that prior relationship and put it to rest once and for all. He wasn’t a bad boy or wild or crazy… quite the contrary – he was responsible, kind, funny, intelligent, driven, loyal, etc. He just wasn’t ready to get married – and he wasn’t sure that he’d ever be ready (due to a divorce situation in his past which he considered his greatest failure). I didn’t think that I should have to give up my dream of being married, so I broke things off, even though I didn’t want to… what I really wanted was to be with him in an even more committed way. The decision has been plaguing me ever since. There are times that I think I’ve come to terms with my decision, but it always comes back to haunt me. Uuuggghh! I really wish I could just put it to rest.|
Anyway, so now I am married to a great guy yet I continue to think about this past relationship. I know it’s not helpful, but I can’t stop myself from comparing the feelings of excitement, laughter, and hope that were almost constant with my ex to my current feelings toward my husband & our marriage which are more along the lines of solid and steady but bland and boring.
I committed to my husband for a lifetime, and I am going to honor that promise. I want to be with him as his friend and wife, but I just wish I felt more spark and more energy when we are together. Does that make sense? Basically, I want to want him more. Can that feeling be created? I’m hoping that the answer is yes! When he is home this weekend, I am going to try out the long conversation thing… I recall feeling hopeful (and yes, aroused) about our future when we used to sit on the couch and talk for hours. It’s been a long time since we’ve lived under one roof (due to his job relocation) so I’m sure that doesn’t help matters much.
Anyway, this response is all over the place – sorry! I do appreciate your thoughts & please keep your fingers crossed that things go well this weekend.
|hp, I think you’ve hit on a very important distinction for me… spark = drama vs spark = compatibility. If I’m completely honest with myself and my memories of this now distant relationship with the ex, I would have to say that “the spark” was probably directly correlated to his availability (as in long-term commitment… which he WAS NOT available and in his own words ‘may never be’). I guess I was always the pursuer so definitely SPARK = emotional drama!|
I can relate to you when you say that your relationship with your fiancé felt almost wrong at first because he was so open and available. My husband was the same way, but I remember thinking, “Aaah, what a refreshing change of pace. We’re on a level playing field here.” That was SO attractive to me after being in my previous relationship and it felt amazing to be in a healthy relationship where there was no elephant in the room (as in me waiting for the ex to want to get married). Now if I could just remember that spark can also mean being yourself and having a sense of ease around someone, in other words, being compatible.
And believe me, I am old enough to know what a good relationship entails and what the essence of marriage is about. That’s why I get so frustrated with myself when I get tripped up thinking about the ex, thinking about “that feeling”, and actually allowing it to worm its way into my conscience & assigning meaning to the feeling, in spite of my logic. It’s more irritating than I could ever explain.
I love the “choice” line of thinking, too. I guess I just needed to be reminded of it and have it pointed toward my particular situation. I did indeed choose my husband. And honestly, I would do it again! I worked hard through the engagement process to be conscious of my feelings, work through the transitions, and move through my fear. I worked with Sheryl and I had a lovely, conscious, and meaningful wedding day. Most of my marriage (2.5 yrs) has been very good. It’s just that I sometimes fall prey to the “choose your own adventure” thinking and delve too deeply into what would have happened if I had/hadn’t made certain choices. It’s like poison in my brain, growing more potent as I roll it over and over. With all my heart, I simply want to FORGET about the other guy for good & be able to truly focus on my marriage, my husband, and my reality. I hope it doesn’t sound like I want to leave my husband, because I DO NOT! I just want to feel more connected and more sparky (ha).
I just got scared, a pang of fear and panic washed over me, when I read that line about “enough spark.” I need to work on my definition of spark, without the drama. Thanks again hp!
Sounds like you are doing some good soul-searching around this topic. But you are asking yourself unanswerable “what if” questions: what if I married my ex? What if I were able to convince him that he did actually want to get married? etc. etc. Someone told me that when a man tells you something negative about himself, you have to believe him. Your ex told you he may never have wanted to get married, and you have to believe that. You never would have been able to convince him otherwise. Who knows, if you had stayed with him, you might still be waiting! You will never ever know what it would be like to BE with that other guy long-term, so maybe you should focus on letting go of the fantasy/daydream, instead of still living in the question. Some women fall in the trap of thinking they can change a man, and you were smart enough to walk away from your ex, even if he was wonderful in many ways. Men who can’t commit are fundamentally selfish in some ways (not that there is anything wrong with choosing to stay single) in the sense that they will never allow themselves to be truly available in the ways that are necessary for a long-term commitment to work. I think you still have a lot of idealization and fantasy around this man, and maybe try and work through that instead of focusing on the deficits of your husband.
|So, I just wanted to pop in and say that I had the best weekend with my husband! We didn’t do anything particularly exciting, we just relaxed and enjoyed each other. We talked about our future. We made each other a priority and really connected. Because we’ve been living in 2 different states for a while (job-related), it’s been a while since we have been able to do this. I’m sure that the long distance (and house selling, temporary housing, multiple moves, job layoff, etc) doesn’t help my natural inclination to be anxious… that anxiety quickly turns into fear… that fear needs a “cause”… that “cause” inevitably ends up being placed on my husband’s flaws (which don’t bother me when I’m not feeling anxious) and/or my past decisions that have brought me to this point (aka break-up with last bf). As messed up as that sounds, I’m so glad that I’m finally seeing the trend so that I can recognize it sooner & nip it in the bud.|
I also think that by writing on this board and getting my fears out in the open, I’ve been able to see how ridiculous they really are. I must remember to not let them swill around in my head for too long or they will start to seem real & make me crazy. So, thank you girls for listening, writing, and being there.
I truly love being married. Even with all of the fear and anxiety I’ve experienced, and without the ability to tell the future, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
|Oh, my – and I was hoping to reduce anxiety through these articles, not increase it! Here’s what I meant by “spark” (and I can understand why the word spiked you): I mean that you’re connected to each other, you like each other, there’s a desire to spend time with your partner in a variety of ways. I actually didn’t mean it in a sexual way! When I think of spark between partners I mean that there’s something that draws two people together – and that something can be a lot of different things. I hope that helps! Sheryl|
|Thank you for the clarification, Sheryl! That makes total sense… especially when I’m not in a fearful, anxious mindset. Actually, being spiked by that term in your article and then posting here has been a real eye opener for me. I was able to track the progress of my anxiety & see how it morphs into something totally unrecognizable. For example, I went from “enough spark, hmmm I wonder what that means?” to making false ‘absolute’ statements like “I am missing those spark feelings entirely” to torturing myself with unanswerable questions like “maybe I shouldn’t have dumped X?” and “am I cut out to be married?” It got out of control really fast. But by expressing my feelings here, taking space from it, getting feedback, and tapping into my logic and trusting myself, I got back on track really fast.|
Thank you so much for this safe place to express our deepest, most misunderstood feelings! I’m loving the clarity that I have right now… all of the tools and skills you’ve provided are really starting to gel for me! I honestly couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you!
|You’re so welcome. Yes, much of this work is about just being able to express your true feelings in a safe place and learning how to access your logical, truthful part of you. It sounds like you’re doing great work! – Sheryl|
One of the most common questions that plagues the anxiously engaged is, “What If I’m Making a Mistake?” This is the subject of Lesson 4, also known as “Accepting Uncertainty.” The wise women of the board are full of, well, wisdom as they tackle this question head-on.
Table of Contents for Lesson 4 Posts
A Conscious Choice ………………………………………………………………………. 3
A Great Essay on “Certainty” ………………………………………………………… 10
A Lesson from Alice in Wonderland ……………………………………………….. 12
A Meaningful Transition ………………………………………………………………… 13
Acceptance Versus Settling …………………………………………………………… 16
Anxiety-Doubt vs Intuition-Doubt …………………………………………………….. 21
Counterphobic ……………………………………………………………………………… 28
Difference Between What-If and Just Knowing …………………………………. 31
From a Married Woman ………………………………………………………………… 43
Gut Instincts vs Heart……………………………………………………………………. 56
Just a Beautiful Quote ………………………………………………………………….. 58
Listening to Your Gut …………………………………………………………………. 59
Looking Through the Microscope …………………………………………………… 65
Making the “Right” Choice ……………………………………………………………. 76
Advice From an Old Poster …………………………………………………………… 80
Self-Trust and Uncertainty …………………………………………………………….. 84
Gut instincts vs. your heart
|Overthinker||Gut instincts vs. your heart||Lead||[-]|
|TAGS [EDIT]: None|
Just a quick thought… We’re told to trust our instincts when deciding when to marry someone….however, my gut is always the exact thing telling me to run…it’s like that’s where my fears lie. Up to this point, I’ve been depending on my heart to push me along and get me through the tough days. But since my gut keeps chiming in, sometimes I wonder if I should be paying attention to it….any thoughts? I’m kinda hoping you guys say I can ignore that pit of the stomach cringe that pops up 🙂
|Scientifically speaking…there is no actual proven “gut,” it’s not like is a part of your body or anything. It’s really just a figure of speech, so I see no reason to act as if it is this absolute, all-knowing entity. In other languages “gut” is interchangeable with “heart” or “throat” if you translate literally! So maybe your heart is your gut. This stuff isn’t so concrete, you know? It’s much more subjective.|
That out of the way, there’s no denying that sometimes, for some people, intuition or instinct leads them to some sort of conclusion they feel good about. That has never been my experience though. I cannot recall ever having a gut feeling about anything (i.e. “just knowing”). Does that mean it doesn’t exist or that I am incapable of feeling this? Well, no, but, all I know right NOW at this point in time is that choices based on my values and the type of life I wish to lead and create have usually lead me in a good direction. So I’m going to continue to make choices that way. The thing is, you really can’t know the future, and you can’t make perfect choices. You will make mistakes (if you choose to view them as mistakes, that is). If you really want to be bold when it comes to anxiety, you have to accept the possibility that you are making a “mistake” but do it anyway…because you want to.
I think I know what you mean about heart vs. gut. For me, “heart” resonates with my deepest values and desire to be a loving being. “Gut” is just anxiety, fear, and I’m not really interested in letting those things dictate my choices in life.
|I agree with ThinkBee, but the other alternative to simply choosing to ignore your gut is to acknowledge the fact that sometimes even your “gut” is wrong. We tend to put a high degree of significance on our “gut” feelings, especially how it applies to our relationships, but there’s no objective reason to believe that your “gut” is always–or even usually–accurate. For instance, last spring I turned down a firm job offer because I had a firm, gut instinct telling me that I was going to get an offer from the second office. I was willing to gamble my future and a solid offer on the strength of this gut conviction. Turns out, I didn’t get the job. My “gut” was entirely off the mark.|
Your “gut” is not all-knowing. It makes mistakes too. So if you’re torn, between your gut and your heart, you have to do your best to look at the situation objectively. Weigh the pros and cons and then make a conscious decision. But remember that neither your “gut” nor your heart is always right. Life is a gamble and the sooner you can accept that uncertainty, the happier you will be.
|Overthinker, I think it is very difficult to be able trust your “gut” or “heart” when you have been hit with engagement anxiety. When you are feeling low and doubtful, it is impossible to judge the truth. That is why we are all seeking advice on this forum to understand our emotional states. Hope this helps.|