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My husband basically bribed me to marry him.
I sat there, knowing he wanted to propose for a while and told him how he had to do it and what wasn’t allowed, figuring this would stall him enough to let me come to terms with the idea of becoming a wife.
I have been a daughter, a student, an employee, a sister, a friend, but the wife role terrified me. My preconceptions of what the wife role entailed crowded my thoughts. What if I can’t ever learn to cook well? What if I don’t want to submit to my husband? What if I want to submit to keep him happy so he doesn’t look elsewhere for gratification?
I have always had a very difficult time with life transitions. I cried almost every birthday as I was mourning the loss of never being 6, 10, 13, 16 ever again. Even today, I am battling anxiety over my next anticipated role, motherhood.
But engagement was something that was always the end goal of dating, wasn’t it? I am a huge romantic, and every girl dreams of meeting the love of their life and living happily ever after. But what if it’s not the way you envisioned it? Does that mean it’s not meant to be?
My husband did not propose at a Yankee game on the jumbotron, or with a flash mob at Disney. He didn’t send me on a scavenger hunt that ended with him on one knee and a surprise photographer. He didn’t call my parents to ask for my hand or buy the Verragio ring with antique milgrain details and cushion cut 1ct. diamond.
My husband proposed to me bedside, after sitting down with me and confessing that he knew I wanted all these things, but he wanted more for me to know that he wanted to spend his life with me and that things wouldn’t be as terrible as my anxious mind made me seem. He wouldn’t expect me to be any different than I was now, and that he loved me the way I am, forever.
He proposed with a solitaire round diamond ring that was not the 1ct minimum I had convinced myself I needed.
I said yes.
In the moments and months that followed, many things that brought my wedding closer to being a reality caused me to fluster. Telling our parents, then, telling facebook. Booking a venue and having an actual wedding date. Buying a wedding dress. Sending save the date cards…and most of all, invitations. These were all things I had thought about before, but I was actually spending the money on the things that would be present for my wedding day memories forever. This is the dress I would wear. These are the people that would be there.
The invitations wreaked havoc because not only were my expectations for my wedding stationery so high, but it was kind of my “no turning back now” moment when we mailed them.
I had told people where I’d be on the date and time I was supposed to vow to love this guy and never give up on our marriage. If I didn’t show, they’d know.
What I can tell you is the things that helped me most through my engagement to soothe my anxiety and realize this WAS meant to be and where I was supposed to be in my life.
The Conscious Bride – I found the author of this book after googling “how do I know he’s the one” and “terrified of getting married.” I actually paid for Sheryl’s Anxious Bride e-course and got through most of it before realizing much of the material is in her book, which is a much more manageable cost to manage in the midst of budgeting for a wedding. The book focuses on the feelings you experience during your engagement and discusses how if it’s not all unicorns and sunshine, that does NOT mean that something is wrong.
Individual and couple’s therapy – While we did some premarital counseling through the church, seeing a therapist every week helped me find ways to address the dark voice in my head. Therapy helped bring to light issues I was afraid to talk about to my husband without someone there to tell me these feelings were normal. I still continue therapy and it has done absolute wonders for our relationship and helping me deal with ongoing challenges my anxiety confronts me with. Many insurance companies cover counseling, offering little out-of-pocket cost.
Let yourself off the hook – At many different points throughout the planning process, I would get physically sick over how much everything cost. I had no idea on how much everything would cost and desperately needed a no-bs price guide. I was determined to find the perfect balance of budget to quality in each and every vendor, but even still I would walk away when looking at all the costs adding up and feel so much guilt. This was the annual salary of some people. I didn’t need these things, I just wanted them. It was supposed to be about the marriage, not the wedding, and so on. My wedding was the first time I really invested in myself and what I wanted. I am always the person to compromise on what I want to make other people happy, and this time I didn’t. My mother, my friends, my wedding party all challenged my standings at the time, but in the end, I did what I wanted, and I stopped feeling guilty for it. I look back on my wedding day with no regrets that I bought the Viennese hour and blacklisted my mom’s favorite songs with the DJ. You deserve for your wedding day to be about you and your husband. Don’t second guess that.
Doing a first look – I am fairly traditional in my values and I had always dreamt of my groom crying as I walked down the aisle and he saw me for the first time. But time became an issue as we got married in fall and Daylight Savings meant that if we didn’t do a first look, all of our wedding photos would have to be indoors, or in the night as our reception went on without us. I “caved” and did a first look and I can tell you it was probably the single best thing I did for myself on my wedding day (besides actually getting married of course). When I saw my best friend before we got started with family pictures, I was instantly relieved and excited to get married. We rode to the church together and then I hid in a broom closet (I didn’t want late arriving guests to see me) buzzing to get out there and do this thing.
Wedding planning is full of emotion that no one tells you about. If engagement is not what you thought it would be, and you find yourself disillusioned, you’re not alone. People say it’s “the happiest moment of your life” and as women, we know that’s not true.
The good thing I learned and has kept me sane is that if you feel anxious about your wedding, it’s because you’re taking the commitment seriously. If there was no hesitation before you swore your life to something, I think there would be a bigger concern.
Hang in there, it’s worth it. I promise.