Would you believe there was once a bride so scared to walk down the aisle that a doctor prescribed her anti-anxiety medication? It was stressful for her whole wedding party and parents. Some were so worried about her that they forgot to smile in the pictures.
The terror of getting married is a common topic behind closed doors for therapists. In 2021, the Census Bureau reported that 34 percent of adults have never been married, while more American adults don't plan on getting married. Another trend to consider is men are waiting until they're 28 to get married, while women wait until they're 26 years old.
Researchers have a good idea of why some are more likely to commit than others and have named some developmental attitudes and milestones that seem to be predictors. But what societal changes or fears are getting in the way? What are those who desire marriage supposed to do about it? Here are some of the biggest fears surrounding marriage and how to conquer them.
You're scared you'll marry the wrong person.
Everyone lives in "FOMO" or "fear of missing out." With every promotion, social event, and relationship status update on social media, it feels like everyone else is living the good life. Our tendency to share the highlights of our life has created an illusion that implies we're missing out on someone or something better. What if your soulmate is still out there? What if you regret getting married? Current trends show the power of fear.
Couples may marry later, but they're not waiting to move in together. They're cohabiting at higher rates than before to test-drive the relationship before getting married. However, only 60 percent of those couples will walk down the aisle, while the rest live in a state of serial monogamy.
While FOMO is based on fantasy, commitment is a beneficial and healthy choice, and science backs this up. Men and women who are involved in loving, safe relationships live longer. They're less vulnerable to sicknesses like mental health distress and heart disease. They also report higher life satisfaction levels than single or divorced people. No relationship is a perfect match or entirely stress-free.
Most couples get mad enough to regret getting married sometimes. However, the opposite of love isn't anger; it's boredom. Opening our hearts is a risk, but commitment can be one of the most protective, fulfilling opportunities God gives us.
You're afraid that you'll lose your identity.
Our connections often define how we identify ourselves. Though it can be a fear for anyone, it is typically prevalent in women. Both women and men share that getting married will cause them to lose control and their voice. They ask themselves questions like, "Will I be expected to become a housewife the moment I say I do?" or "Will she tell me when and where I can go places and do things?" which are real concerns.
Similar to how having an identity in Christ doesn't make some become Christ, getting married doesn't strip you of your preferences, callings, or talents as an individual. Getting married is about enjoying a connection, like faith. An intimate marriage doesn't require putting your partner ahead of yourself in ways you've never experienced. It's not identity theft but a beautiful dance of accepting and giving love.
Relationships change throughout the years. We grow, connect, experience loss, and die. However, marriage wasn't meant to become your entire identity. Married describes a bond with one person who is different from everyone else. God doesn't take our free will when He calls us daughter or son. He commits to loving us, inviting us to love Him in return.
You're scared that you'll fall out of love.
This fear is prevalent in dating when it's time for a couple to commit. As an institution, marriage has been threatened by stereotypes throughout the years. "Perfect love" in the media has been depicted as lust based and exciting on novelty instead of a lasting and safe commitment. The fear is that a marital connection will become distant, tedious, and unsexy.
Men are made to believe that women will stop wanting or withhold physical intimacy after marriage. At the same time, women are conditioned to think that physical intimacy only exists for men's pleasure or something they have to do so their husbands won't cheat on them. However, both ideas are misleading and not factual.
Research shows that married couples have satisfying and regular intimacy, more than single people. The longer they're married, the couples are more likely to experiment with new intimate encounters. The cause of this is due to their secure and safe connections and commitment to communicating surrounding physical intimacy. Being "in love" starts with being wanted, seen, and respected. Attraction blooms when the wife and husband can take risks in their committed and safe relationship. Don't let misinformation and stereotypes stop you from experiencing a satisfying love life.
You're afraid that your marriage will be like your parent's marriage.
This fear is number one for many couples when it comes to marriage. At first glance, you would think that this fear means engaged couples are afraid that they'll fail and get divorced, which is valid. However, others fear their marriages won't live up to their parent's expectations.
Generational patterns can only flourish if they're in the dark. Many couples live out their marriages trying to imitate the "perfection" they thought they saw as children. On the other hand, they rail against how they were raised, rejecting their pain and vowing not to repeat the cycle in their families. Taking either of those roads is reactionary; without new insight, they can end in the exact results you're trying to avoid.
Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you; get insight and help. Your marriage doesn't have to be like your parent's. Sign up for dating, pre-marital and marriage counseling so the fear of failure won't stand in the way of experiencing a happy marriage. It's worth every penny to understand a love like that, the love that a Savior died for.