Adam 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.
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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.
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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?