Overcoming Marriage Anxiety
Almost everyone is anxious at times about their approaching wedding and marriage. They might be nervous about the doors they are closing to other relationships and to other life opportunities or the compromises they will have to make in their career. A certain degree of anxiety is normal, but some anxiety can be a warning signal that something is not right in the relationship and should be looked at more carefully before the couple commits to a lifetime together.
Normal Anxiety Versus Red Flags
One good way to put your anxiety into perspective is to remember a time when you were embarking on something new. Think about your first day at a new school or job, or remember your last big purchase. Were you this anxious then? Have you felt this anxiety in serious relationships before? Does this anxiety feel similar or very different? Do you feel you can share this anxiety with your future spouse? If you can, that is a sign of a good relationship. You are feeling the effects of the standard pre-engagement or pre-wedding anxiety. If you cannot put your finger on the feeling, or if the anxiety expresses itself in your mind by becoming critical of your future husband or wife, this may be cause for some further exploration of the relationship with a counselor or rabbi.
There is a great story about two friends, Bob and Bill. Bob fixes Bill up with one woman after another, and when Bob asks about them Bill complains that one was too short, another was not funny enough, and another was too heavy. Finally, exasperated, Bob says, “Hey Bill, lighten up, it's not like you're buying a new car or something!” The lesson is a good one. Each individual person is complex. No one will ever fit a laundry list of what you want, but that is part of the beauty of marrying a real person. They are not perfect; they are just themselves. This is what makes life exciting and helps each spouse in a relationship grow over time.
How would you feel if your fiancé was not there any more? This can be an important question to ask yourself when you feel pre-marriage anxiety. It might help you ascertain if it is regular nervousness or some bigger issue in the relationship or in how you see each other.
Talking to other people who know you both can also be helpful. What do your close friends and relatives sense about your relationship? Does it seem healthy, mutual, and mature from the outside? How did they feel when they were getting engaged? This may help you get some perspective and find out if your own level of anxiety is typical. If your fiancé is feeling anxious, talking to others may help you remember that your fiancé's anxiety may be very normal and is not an implicit criticism of you.
Trying to Change Your Fiancé
If you find yourself hoping that after you get married your spouse will change, this is a cause for concern. Going into a marriage wanting to change someone is not healthy and puts an undue burden on any relationship. While people do change, one must go into a marriage with the expectation that what you have experienced with your future life partner and how you see them is what you will be getting.
If you are stuck between the two poles of “am I just blowing some issues out of proportion?” and “what if these issues continue to bother me forever in this marriage?” it might be good to seek the counseling of a professional to help sort it out.