When my grandparents got married in the 1930s, I’m quite certain neither one of them had the kind of engagement anxiety I see among people today. My grandmother did experience grief about leaving her mother and two sisters. The difficult feelings were displaced onto her wedding dress and veil (a mosquito net so an understandable disappointment on her part!), but she didn’t spend a moment wondering if she was making the best possible choice or if she loved my grandfather enough, if he was her soul mate or any of the other anxiety-based questions that wreak havoc on my clients’ minds. How One Woman Gained Insight Into Her Relationship
At the ripe old age of 21, she knew that it was time to marry. She had had a series of boyfriends in her teenage years so she knew what was out there. When my grandfather who had grown up three miles away from her on a neighboring farm asked her out, she said yes. Three months later, they were married and a year after that, my mother was born.
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Why the lack of soul-wrenching anxiety? She knew he was a good egg. He was hard-working, honest, responsible, kind, and good-looking to boot. Having grown up in proximity to one another, there was a familiarity in terms of lifestyle, ethics, culture, and values. Having wondered if she was destined to be a spinster, she felt grateful that such a good man came along and wanted to marry her. Their marriage was far from perfect, but they loved each other for over sixty years and enjoyed a fine companionship, including shared interests, an extensive community of friends and love of family and travel. In essence, they appreciated each other and never lost sight of how lucky they felt to have each other as their spouse. Do Good Men Still Exist?
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When my clients wonder if their partner is the right match for them, it’s usually because they’re looking to “have it all.” Brainwashed by an unhealthy culture that inundates them with buzzwords like “the one”, “soul mates”, and phrases like “I just knew the moment I met him that I was meant to marry him.” When that sense of unwavering knowing is lacking, they understandably wonder if they’re with the right man. And when the engagement anxiety kicks in full force and causes them to nitpick their fiancé and put his or her every perceived flaw under a microscope, a downward spiral of focusing on what’s missing usually begins. 'Tis The Season To Get Engaged...And Panic!
They start to look around at their friends’ relationships and wonder at what appears to be unilateral ease, bliss and passion. They reminisce about past boyfriends and long for the trait that he or she possessed that’s missing in their current husband or wife to be. In short, they become obsessed by the 'Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome' where everyone else’s relationship and their own past lovers are elevated to the status of perfection. In doing so, they miss the wonderful man or woman that is standing before them, ready and available and wanting to forge a shared life. They’ve moved from appreciation and gratitude to negativity and criticism.