One area I haven’t discussed all that much in my articles is that time-honored institution of marriage. I do touch on the subject briefly in my latest book, Honeymoon Forever: Secrets to Life Long Intimacy by stating:
Lifelong love connections such as marriage are often the end goal of “the search,” which is why they’re often front-and-center in the Culture of Love. It’s our belief that the best marriages are not those built upon rules and dogmatic expectations, but rather those that are true timeless Honeymoon Periods based on mutual happiness: two people working to create something bigger than themselves. Too often, marriage arises from fear of abandonment or something that would have to last forever to be considered any kind of success. We believe that individuals can build dynamic, happy relationships if they’re willing to put in the effort it takes to constantly renew the magical power of the Honeymoon Period. It takes sustained motivation and re-commitment to something bigger and greater. Marriage vows are not just for the wedding day!
So why am I bringing up the subject of marriage?
Because marriage, for many in Western culture, is the end goal of “the search,” a culmination of two individuals coming together in happy expectation of a life-long partnership – or so we think!
In fact, researchers have found that newlyweds have lots of mixed feelings about their new spouses – not just the usual anxieties associated with the marriage ceremony itself.
Pay Attention To Wedding Jitters
Yesterday, I came across an interesting online article, written by Yahoo Shine Staff Writer, Elise Sole, entitled, Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Wedding Jitters. It’s all about pre-wedding anxiety, and how many newlyweds ignore their gut feelings about their partners.
A recent Florida State University study, conducted by an associate professor of psychology, James K. McNulty, Ph.D., sheds some needed light on the subject. He asked 135 newlyweds to describe their marriages using adjectives such as “good,” “bad,” “satisfied,” and “unsatisfied,” then studied their “gut feelings” about their relationships.
Dr. McNulty had his subjects play a word association game after briefly perusing their spouse’s photos. When he met with them four years later, he found that those who expressed negative or lukewarm feelings about their spouse were the most unhappy in their marriages.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Dr. McNulty: “I think the findings suggest that people may want to attend a little bit to their gut. If they can sense that their gut is telling them that there is a problem, then they might benefit from exploring that, maybe even with a professional marriage counselor.”
Another earlier study, conducted in 2011, addressed this notion of wedding jitters. The research conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles found that people, especially women, who were uncertain or hesitant about tying the knot, were more likely to divorce.
Sole asks this critical question related to pre-nuptial nerves and general ambivalence: Why, then, would someone say “I do” if they really mean “I don’t”?
Don’t Let The Glam and Glitz Distract You
Her revealing answer: “The wedding industry has become so lavish and over the top with expensive gowns, massive guest lists, gimmicky ceremonies, that many people wind up burying their doubts or dismissing them altogether.”
Then Sole cites, L.A.-based psychotherapist, Wendy Walsh, PhD, astute response: “The wedding itself can overshadow any doubts about the relationship, especially if the couple has shelled out for an expensive wedding and feel it’s too late to back out.”
So it’s no wonder that one who ignores his or her gut feelings, leading up to and during the wedding itself, may end up paying dearly when denied and dormant feelings rise up – tragically, after the fact.
Dr. Walsh: “One reason shaky couples tie the knot is because many don’t have blueprints for good marriages. People who are products of divorce may not have context for healthy love, making it easier to subconsciously select the wrong mate…”
Now, that’s a significant statement because I find that too many couples don’t have any conception of what a successful marriage (or a healthy partnership) really looks like. Many don’t seriously consider compatibility BEFORE the marriage vows are made!
All too often, in the excitement of the marriage plans and high expectations for a “marriage made in heaven,” one or both partners may simply react with unrealistic or over-the-top emotions.
And even more potentially disastrous: They fail to look at (or do anything about) each one’s darker history and overall dysfunctionality, which they may be, often unknowingly, carrying into the marriage.
Try To Ignore That “Ticking Clock”
Sole also brings up the issue that couples are getting married later and later. This situation may cause its own kind of relationship dissatisfaction.
Women feel time pressures because of their “ticking biological clock” for women, and sometimes enter into relationships that aren’t actually right for them.
Men, on the other hand, have more time to get used to multiple partners (since they don’t have a ticking clock). At the end of day, they may have trouble settling for one partner.
So Sole sums it up like this: “It’s important to ask yourself whether you’re stressed out about the logistics of the wedding or the person you’re about to marry.”
And Dr. Walsh weighs in with her own summation: “In any relationship, you should feel validated and respected, even when times are tough…If you feel in your heart that your needs aren’t getting met, it’s time to speak up.”
These are both great points to consider when preparing for marriage or any life-long partnership.
Just what is your wedding stress really about?
If it’s just the excitement and pressures of the marriage preparations and ceremony, then great. But, if your gut tells you that there’s something not quite right about him or her, or you truly aren’t getting your needs and wants met, you had better acknowledge it and say something BEFORE that first big step down the aisle.
Better yet, you might want to do your testing for relationship compatibility and deep soul searching regarding this person who you’re planning to spend your life with, WAY BEFORE you actually tie the knot, because this could save you a whole lot of heart ache down the line – when it just might be too late to run for the hills…