2. Becoming a "wife" or "husband." Our parent's marriage is our blueprint for our own marriage. We learn from them how to argue, how to ask for our needs and how to negotiate power in an intimate relationship. Some of us did not get an ideal blueprint to follow; we come from broken homes, homes filled with anger, violence, shame or neglect or homes where there is little or no emotional intimacy.
Sometimes, when we become engaged the fear that we will become just like our mom or dad is overwhelming. It is important to remember that you do not have to mirror your blueprint. You can choose any type of relationship you want. But, if you do not actively choose a different way of connecting or expressing anger, you will go on autopilot and fall back on familiar behaviors.
If this sounds like what you are feeling then what you need is to gain an understanding of your past so you can clearly define your future. Get support around understanding your own blueprint so you can then decide what you want to keep and what pieces of your parent's marriage you want to get rid of. Once you have this, you and your fiancé can openly discuss your plan, goals and dreams for the marriage.
3. What is the plan? Have you talked through the BIG items with your intended? A few of these big items include: do we want kids and when; where do we want to live; how much money do we plan to make; how will we budget; how much time will we spend with our extended families; who is staying home with the kids; how ambitious are we individually and how are we going to make room in the relationship for this ambition.
When you talk through all of these questions, a picture or plan for your marriage emerges. Many couples don't discuss their overall plan before they get married because they either don't know how to or because they already know there is a conflict and they don't know how to find a resolution.
If you have not discussed the big questions with your fiancé this may be a source of your wedding jitters. There can be the illusion that these conflicts will all "work themselves out." I will tell you from personal as well as professional experience that they don't. But I do know that your anxiety will be greatly relieved by beginning this conversation. Consider finding a workbook or a couples counselor who can guide you through this discussion, help you set goals for yourselves and teach you the communication skills you need to negotiate when your desires or needs differ.
4. Violence or the threat of violence. Violence is never OK. It is never, ever, ever, ever OK. If there has been violence, threats of violence or shaming or controlling behavior in your relationship, you need to seek the support of a therapist to better understand the dynamics of the abuse and why you choose to stay.
If you are questioning the relationship because there has been abusive behavior in the past, please listen to your instincts. Slow things down and find some support. Abuse rarely only occurs once. It is a pattern of behavior that cycles through wonderful times and then abusive or controlling times. It will happen again unless there is an intervention. Continue reading ...