Having Doubts Before Your Wedding Is a Good Sign

groom putting ring on bride's fingerAdam Levine was recently quoted expressing some majorly dismal views about marriage: "If you don't get married, you can't get divorced. Why couldn't we learn from the devastatingly low percentage of successful marriages that our last generation went through?" I can't say I blame the guy, and I'm sure how he feels is how most people born after 1970 feel these days to some extent.

But we keep getting married! We tell ourselves we're the exceptions. We believe we can have the fairy tale, life-long romance. But that doesn't always quash the fears. You'd have to be living under a rock to not have some doubt leading up to your wedding these days. But it's not like we can TALK about it, right?

I mean, come on! Acknowledge and admit we're feeling insecure, overwhelmed, terrified about making a life-long commitment? No way! Because if you dare talk about feelings like those, you're sure to be told to hush up or run, because duh, "doubt means don't!

As bridal counselor and author Sheryl Paul notes:

In a culture that says 'doubt means don’t,' any valid questioning and expression of healthy fears about making the biggest commitment of one’s life are immediately interpreted as signs of a mistake.

But this limiting, suffocating way of viewing marriage is a complete shame. No, not just that. Repressing fears that are natural is toxic.

A newlywed friend of mine told me she had stumbled across Sheryl Paul's website Conscious-Transitions.com while she was engaged. She said she was feeling nervous, anxious, occasionally doubtful that she was making the right move. But reading what Paul and other women who were happily married for years but who had also experienced pre-wedding anxiety put her at ease. It made her feel like she wasn't alone in feeling this way, that marriage is a big freakin' deal we shouldn't take lightly and chalk up to "just knowing!"

Because you can "just know" you love your partner unconditionally and know you want to spend the rest of your life with them while feeling anxious/afraid/doubtful about what the future holds. You can know you want to spend the rest of your life with them, but still be freaked out about losing your identity as a single woman or saying "til death do us part" while surrounded by divorces galore.

More from The Stir: 12 Things Every Bride Must Do Before the Big Day That Aren't on a Checklist

The idea that the entire time leading up to a wedding and the wedding itself is supposed to be nothing short of blissful is unrealistic and unfair. We all have dark moments and emotions related to getting married. Wedding planning itself is so stressful. I can't imagine a couple getting through a year of planning without at least one big fight about money or family.

Still, we keep pushing ourselves to fit into this box of Big Day perfection. To not admit any emotions that are counter to all the  "sugar, spice and everything nice" stereotypes weddings are supposed to be made of. But it's suffocating. Because, to paraphrase Paul, getting married is a major decision that deserves to be examined from every angle.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: My fiance is my best friend. We have taken care of one another and loved one another and supported one another without question for six years. We want to do the hard work it takes to build a happy, healthy marriage that lasts. And I know that's just about all anyone needs to know or can know before taking the leap.

More from The Stir: 10 Biggest Wedding Day Mistakes Brides Truly Regret Making

But if the road to making that happen isn't bump-free, that's OKAY! No one should be shamed, judged, or fearmongered for treating the commitment with the thoughtfulness it deserves. "Ugly" emotions like anxiety and doubt may not fit into our picture perfect ideal of a bride-to-be, but they're a natural pitstop on the trip down the aisle.

Be honest -- did you experience pre-wedding anxiety/doubt/fears? How did you come to terms with those emotions?


marriage, weddings


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Freela Freela

I think you are mixing up jitters/anxiety and doubt. I think everyone has jitters leading up to their wedding day. Everyone has a certain amount of conflict planning an event. However, I think if you're having sincerely doubts of the 'I don't know if this is a good idea' or 'I don't know if I should marry this person' variety, that's something you need to listen to. I have several family members who got divorced after relatively short periods of time (less than 5 years for one, less than 2 years for the second.) Both said that they had serious doubts going into the marriage but put them out of their minds and pressed onwards anyhow, and they wish they had followed their gut feeling.

zandh... zandhmom2

I had no doubts going into my marriage and we will celebrate 20 yrs this April.  Unlike a lot of girls who main focus is the wedding itself, I went into mine knowing that real marriage takes a lot of give and take and is hard work.  Though out the years I've come to realize that I maybe not always "like" my husband and that's ok because I still always "love" him. I think it's harder on people when they think marriage is all fun and good times and don't prepare themselved to understand that life doesn't work that way. No fairy tales here, just real life.

dearg76 dearg76

My husband and I are about to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary, and NO I never had any doubts about marrying him or about getting married. I knew it was right. I never went into this thinking it would be a fairy tale, I expected hard hard work, bad fights and uphill battles all the way. I never had any kind of ideas of grandeur. I love my husband, he is my best friend and I am his. We talk and are honest with each other, but not mean. We have had some tough times and will have more to come I am sure. But I am so thankful of the day he came into my life. I know one thing we did differently in the beginning than most of our friends did, is that we were completely honest with each other about who we were and we didn't go into this thinking we could change the other.

nonmember avatar RaeRae

When I got married at 24 I had zero doubts. I jumped in with both feet knowing this is the person I want to be with forever. However, 8 years later we divorced. Now I am engaged to a wonderful man, and while I'm certain I am not making the same mistakes as my first marriage, I cannot control the anxiety that maybe I am just not good at this. I will have to check out this website. Hopefully it will help put it into perspective and separate healthy anxiety from doubt. Anyone else go through what I am now?

nonmember avatar a

My mom is from a family of four. Two marriages were successful (her two sister's) and two failed miserably (hers and her brother's). Her sisters had the greater doubts going into marriage, whereas she and her brother just sailed right in sure that everything would go fine and were rudely awakened. I think the rule is - there is no rule. Some of us may have serious doubts and be so glad we went through with it, others may regret it, some may have no doubts for good reasons and others may have been doubt-free but be sorely disappointed. That's life.

Vy Huynh

Thank you for your article. I couldn't agree more when you say "We all have dark moments and emotions related to getting married." At the end of the day, it's better to face these doubts and emotions than to just brush it under the rug and continue with the wedding planning. Facing my doubts and figuring out how to resolve these doubts has been the hard part for me, but I also know this has to happen in order to even have a good and happy future with man I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. I'd much rather have it hard now (but better in the long run for my marriage) than have a rude awakening when I'm married.

nonmember avatar hj

I just cried reading your article because it hits so close to home. Marriage is a BFD. Especially when you know it's going to lead to other major changes in your life. I often feel so guilty for feeling doubtful and anxious. But this article gave me such comfort.

nonmember avatar AAS

I am not doubtful about the man I am engaged to be married with at all. He is my best friend and I love him more than anything. But I do worry of failure from us both as partners. We pray together every night, be sure to kiss each other before bed when he's home from his hitches, appreciate each other. This blog has given me some peace of mind. We are 3 months away from our wedding and my anxiety and stress levels are through the roof. This was very helpful!

nonmember avatar Ashley

Im glad I stumbled upon this.
I always feel like 'there is something wrong with me/my relationship' because none of my married friends (or those seriously dating) ever speak of being doubtful. Like you said, 'doubt means no' in our books, so it is impossible to ever express how I feel (outside of a therapy chair).
I doubt my relationship because I like my independence, I like the freedom I have to pick up and go, to travel when I want, and I have been around my share of unhappy ever-afters that the smallest misunderstanding will have me wanting to run for the door. Im someone who likes peace and harmony.
I often feel ashamed and guilty for doubting because he is so certain, but in seeing other people experience it too, and that its normal, does give me some peace of mind. After all, it is a life time decision, there should be more thought put into it.

nonmember avatar Shelby

Thankful for the response directly above mine from Ashley. I am recently engaged to someone that I haven't been with for a long time. We have a fantastic connection and I know that I want to be a part of his life and vice versa, but the freshness of everything is overwhelming to me. I am not sure if I have fears, or am doubtful, or what it is. I never expected myself to be engaged at 21, thought I would be single for a long time. I have just learned to be content single, and I think maybe I was focused on singleness being my happiness...I am just afraid that I won't be happy. I am afraid of failure, and I guess a little stunned by commitment. If anyone has any advice for me I would greatly appreciate it. s.f.wilson92@gmail.com

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