Grieving the End of Singlehood
To say that an engaged person needs to let go of being single might sound obvious, but many people spend their engagement with their heads buried so deeply in the sand of wedding details that they fail to grasp fully that they need to grieve the end of singlehood. In other words, with the hundreds of wedding details that they think they need to accomplish, they can successfully avoid digesting this difficult reality. Furthermore, women who become obsessed by the planning, a phenomena now known as bridezilla, lose sight of everything other than the details, including being intimate with their partners. This leads to a rupture in intimacy before the marriage even begins.
Men are no less accountable and usually no more conscious during the engagement process. They’ve mustered up the guts to propose, but after their big act they usually retreat into the background and allow their lovely others to plan the wedding. With this withdrawal often comes a denial of the reality of what lies ahead and the fact that their bachelor days are quickly coming to a close. Their fears of intimacy and commitment, their grief that their bachelor identity is ending, their fears about the inevitable separation from their family of origin, and their floating and amorphous concerns are pushed underground or funneled into other distractions.
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The result of this massive denial for both men and women is that the reality of marriage – by which I mean the magnitude of the commitment and the irrevocable loss of their single identity – doesn’t hit them until the distraction of the wedding is over and they’re back to day-to-day life. Then the realization of “Oh my god, I’m married” hits like a ton of bricks, the panic and anxiety set in, and they look for the easiest back door – which, sadly, is often an affair.
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The second primary area that needs recognition and processing is the collapse of the fantasies and conditioning regarding love and romance that most people carry. Oftentimes people don’t even know they’re harboring these fantasies until the day or week after they become engaged and they find themselves depressed and anxious – the polar opposite of the unilateral euphoria they’ve been conditioned to believe they “should” be feeling. A niggling anxious thought begins which says, “If you really loved your fiancé you would be on cloud nine from the moment you got engaged through your honeymoon.”