Doubts about getting married are fairly common.
You may be worrying that you and your partner aren’t compatible enough. Perhaps there are parts of your relationship that don’t work so well – and you think they could become more of a problem further down the line. Maybe you’ve got the feeling there could be someone else out there for you.
So, what are your expectations? What does marriage mean to you?
Does it mean spending your life in eternal harmony with the one person who completes you? Or is it a commitment made while appreciating all the challenges that it might bring?
Marriage often comes with all kinds of pre-conceived ideas. Many of these may put pressure on you, both individually and as a couple. But it can be useful to think of marriage as the beginning of a journey.
Every marriage comes with its challenges. Even the most well-suited couples are likely to face difficulties. Even if the way they feel about each other doesn’t change, the circumstances around them may well do so. People get new jobs. Children may be born. You may face unexpected financial pressures…
Going into marriage expecting some hardship – ok, it’s a less idealistic and romantic way of looking at marriage – can help you be more realistic about what might happen.
That doesn’t mean feeling any less excited about getting married – but it does mean thinking about how you might adapt to change when it comes along; how you and your partner might, as a team, learn to negotiate around difficulty and work towards agreed solutions.
What do you expect of your partner?
Likewise, the same mindset may help when you think about compatibility.
Getting on well with your partner is, of course, really important. But no one is perfect for someone else. Even if this doesn’t become apparent right away, it’s quite likely there will be things about your partner you’ll find challenging or confusing.
As long as you feel you can be yourself around your partner, and there’s opportunity to negotiate around these differences, they don’t have to be a big problem. It’s about learning to work together – discussing together what you both find troublesome.
Besides, a bit of difference in a relationship can be a really good thing! It can allow you to challenge each other and to help one another see things from a different viewpoint.
Learn to deal with difference. It can be much better to develop this ability early in your relationship. Developing open and empathetic communication can be a big advantage.
So… talk together about the future. Have some idea of each other’s expectations – an understanding about each other’s thoughts on children, jobs, where you’d like to live… Explore your life goals together.
And if you still feel apprehensive about marriage…
… but you’re tempted to give it a try, cohabiting may help.
Living together enables you to get to know each other more closely. It can show you what it would be like to see your partner every day – and may allow you to build a shared space together.
However, be mindful that sometimes couples have different ideas about where such an arrangement may lead. It’s not unusual for one person to have assumed that getting married would be the automatic outcome of cohabiting. It’s important to keep communication open so you remain on the same page.
Ultimately, there are limits to how certain you can be. In the end, we can only act on what we know now. We can make preparations, but we can never fully control what will happen in the future.
Sometimes, we need to make a decision based on what we already know – not on what we wish we could know.
If you’d like to talk about all this with one of our counsellors, why not give our friendly appointments team a call on 01604 634400.