The ‘After I Say Yes’ Anxiety
After all the excitement settles around the proposal, it is common for individuals to experience two types of anxieties. The first type of anxiety is typically associated with anticipation of the journey. It feels similar to the anxiety that keeps a child from sleeping on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of what will be under the tree on Christmas day. Typically considered ‘good stress’; these feelings include anxiety about new family members, blending lifestyles, starting new traditions and spending the rest of your lives together. A sense of confidence, control over one’s life and an eagerness to face these unknowns usually characterizes this form of anxiety.
The second type of anxiety (and focus of this article) is the fear driven anxiety. That unsettling feeling that you are left with after all the excitement around the proposal has settled. This feeling involves less anticipation of what’s to come and marked more by fears of things to come. Doubts, wavering confidence in your decision and/or feeling out of control usually characterizes this form of anxiety. I have even heard feelings of helplessness experienced during this time. Ultimately, this level of anxiety is fueled by the thought that our fears may come true.
So what does this mean for me? The answer to this question depends on some honest reflection. It involves being honest about your fears and where they come from. Is there evidence to support your fears (i.e. a current unstable relationship) or are these fears linked to your childhood models for relationships – your parents? Maybe your fears have to do solely with you. Do you have doubts or lack confidence in your ability to give a healthy relationship the nurturing it needs? Are you able and willing to make the commitments necessary for a successful marriage? Do you find yourself spending a lot of time considering the thoughts and feelings of those outside of your relationship when processing your anxieties? Or, if we dig really deep, are we more excited about the engagement and related festivities than the marriage?
My hope is that the clarity gained from answering these questions will inform your next steps. You will gain insight that will either shift you to the positive feelings of anticipation or enlighten you regarding potential barriers to a successful marriage. The question is not about if you should or should not get married. It is about what do you need to do to ensure that any ‘small’ problem of today do not become the ‘big’ problems of tomorrow. Best wishes!