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.
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.