I got asked by someone the other day: “Is it normal to feel anxious before your wedding?”…my instant reaction was to say “Der… Of course it is” but I was feeling rather philosophical that day…So I asked them back:
“Is it normal to feel anxious before a job interview or a Doctors appointment or even a flight overseas”?
They said “absolutely!” and it got me thinking…
It seems fair to say that it is completely normal to feel slightly worried, nervous or anxious about anything new or unknown where you’re putting yourself ‘out there’ in life!
That goes for opening up your heart….sharing secrets and of course one of the true moments of truth in your life… your wedding day!!! It can often feel like you are about to lose control when you’re not the only one who is steering! (have you ever heard of the vulnerability hangover?). So it is fairly common to feel nervous about any moments that involve another person sharing the driving seat.
Anxiety and nerves often pop up when you are placing more emphasis on the ‘what if’s’ of the future, worrying about what might go wrong rather than enjoying the moment and the experience. Worrying that you won’t get the job, that there is something wrong with your health, worrying about plane crashes… and of course before your wedding worrying about marriage failure ending in divorce!
A quick google search will show you that about half marriages end in divorce… Google will also reassure you that life expectancy has continued to go up because of amazing medical advances and that plane crashes are going down due to technological advances…
The beauty of researching something you are concerned about is that you can usually find enough evidence to alleviate your heightened concerns and nervousness and appeal to your logical mind!
Like job hunting forums, where you read that someone else had been to 3 interviews too and were grateful they were unsuccessful as the 4th interview where they were successful was their dream job!!! Or medical research journals showing that your chances of having bladder cancer are 3.84%… Or your chance of dying in a plane crash are 1:50,0000 (for more check out the odds of dying….) When you see these odds I don’t know about you, but a 50% divorce rate is still worth worrying about!!!
Why is the divorce rate going up while all our other concerns are being statistically sated due to research & development?
It could be that it’s so easy to get a divorce these days, you can even do a $99 online application! It could be that we are better educated & realise our differences earlier in life… Or it could be that we are evolving into impatient, instant gratification seeking adults who are not ‘at cause’ for our lives.
The Australian Institute of family studies wanted to understand the reasons behind divorce so they could do some analysis to potentially prevent divorce or improve marriages. They found that reasons behind divorce included communication breakdown, ‘drifting apart’, infidelity, abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, financial problems, mental or physical health issues or general dissatisfaction. I was a little surprised to see that communication and drifting apart were major reasons for marriage breakdown. I thought abuse & infidelity would have been major causes!
Studies of long-lasting marriages (Kaslow and Robinson 1996; Levenson et al. 1993; Wallerstein and Blakeslee 1995) identify the following attributes of healthy couples:
- A sense of respect and feeling appreciated;
- Trust and fidelity,
- Good sexual relations,
- Good communication,
- Shared values,
- Cooperation and mutual support and enjoyment of shared time,
- A sense of spirituality, and
- The ability to be flexible when confronted with transitions and changes.
Researchers have also described similar characteristics of strong families (Schlesinger 1998; Curran 1983). According to Stinnett and Defrain (1985), strong families:
- Promote each other’s welfare and happiness;
-Show appreciation for each other,
- Have good communication skills and talk a lot to each other,
- Spend time together,
- Have a sense of spirituality, and
- Use crises as an opportunity to grow.
I was surprised at how simple this all sounds! It isn’t about 100 % compatibility or mind blowing sexual lust or cosmic attraction… It’s about kindness, appreciation and time.
It might be fair to observe that people take advantage of their marriages, giving the best of themselves at work or to others… Which leaves the marriage dry and brittle, so it’s no wonder it breaks!
Imagine nourishing your partner and receiving the same support, love and encouragement back? It’s the type of environment you would want to spend time in. My commitment has been to create an environment in my relationship with my beautiful fiancé that we want to spend time in… A healthy bubble to connect, share, love, recharge. In doing so we both want to spend more time together (one of the potential causes for communication breakdown was not enough time together)…
Like with most fears and concerns in life, it appears you have a choice. You can become a slave to your anxiety and worry about what could go wrong…or you can consciously think about what actions you can take to be a loving; present partner who is willing to work at your relationship through sickness, in health, through financial hardship, addiction, mental illness, poor communication and worries and anxiety…
My advice is simple; Think about what you are going to give rather than worrying about what you might not get!
If your partner is doing the same then your chances of creating that healthy marriage and family bubble sound very high indeed!
* a quick p.s – Some pre wedding nerves are a warning sign (especially if alcohol or drug abuse or any physical or emotional abuse are involved), make sure you are in a happy, healthy & respectful relationship before you walk down the aisle! however a few nerves before settling down with someone for the rest of your life are completely normal, remember to talk about them with your partner and family, you’ll be surprised how many people have had concerns, fears and doubts before their big day… I think those that are nervous show that they respect and value the sanctity of marriage, which is a beautiful thing when you stop to think about it.
Oh and I hope you live happily ever after. Xxxx