The message I got while growing up was that it’s guys who are afraid of commitment. But even they often come around and decide to get married.
While I also heard a lot about how my generation was affected by their parents’ divorce, I still felt like a weirdo.
Plenty of people, my siblings included, who had divorced parents still got married–or at least wanted to. I kind of did, but I also really didn’t.
It seemed so abnormal to watch romantic comedies and dream of that life and pray for an awesome husband while also being so happy to be free from the burden of the horrors of marriage. I was very conflicted about it for years.
Even when I finally started dating at the age of 26 (weird! But isn’t that about how long every parent wishes their daughter would wait to start dating?), marriage freaked me out. I felt more prepared than ever, but marriage doesn’t just depend on one person.
All the “what ifs” played through my mind.
What if he isn’t who I think he is? Everyone talks about how they think they married the wrong person. Or what if he dies after I finally found someone worthwhile? What if I just hate being married, and I miss the freedom of single life? What if I become one of those boring adults who never has fun again? What if I don’t have time for my friends and family anymore?
A couple of years later, I met someone who inspired me to turn all those “what ifs” around. He was so amazing that I wanted to convince myself that marriage would be, too. What if marriage is fun? What if I can do things as a married woman that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise? What if I love being married? What if our marriage is so great that other people are encouraged about their own marriage?
I couldn’t believe the courage of all these people getting married. They didn’t even seem scared. They seemed so happy. Yet there’s a fair share of stories about cold feet and broken engagements. The more I inquired about how to deal with my fear, the more I heard from others that they had been afraid, too. How could that be? There lives are so great. It seemed so obvious to me that they’re in a good marriage.
That’s another thing I did. Once I decided I wanted a good marriage, I started looking to see if they exist. Previously, I’d only focused on all the negative ones. I had believed those were the only honest marriages.
Still, the fear would come up again, and I’d have to find a way to deal with it. One restless night, I wondered if people thought I was crazy for being afraid of marriage. It often felt that way. I still had a hard time believing they could think marriage was so good that it would be weird for someone to not want to get married.
Then I thought about all the things I love that people are scared of. Swimming. Flying. Visiting foreign countries. They seem like such silly things to be afraid of. Yes, there are terrifying stories about each of those things, but there are countless more stories about those same adventures being wonderful. Sure, there are risks, but there are risks for just staying at home, too.
If someone came to me who was afraid of swimming pools because they watched someone drown, I wouldn’t blame them. But I’d still encourage them to learn how to swim if they wanted to. I’d tell them it’s a great thing to pursue! I’d tell them how liberating and useful it is. I’d tell them how good it is for them because it’s a great way to exercise. But I’d also tell them to take someone with them and to take it one step at a time. I’d advise them to take safety precautions while still leaving room for having fun.
Those are the same things I had to remember for marriage. Being afraid of marriage is like being afraid of swimming pools. It’s scary not having firsthand experience with something. I had a lot to learn. I’d seen the damage marriage can cause, so I needed to train myself to know the benefits of marriage.
Now that I’m married, it’s so funny to think that I was afraid of this. It’s amazing! Of course it isn’t perfect, but neither was being single. I enjoyed my single years and am grateful for all I did and learned during that time, but I’m excited about all the things I get to do and learn now as a wife.
More About M.C.
M.C. Starbuck has overcome more than her fear of marriage; she has also learned to let go of debt and clutter. If you struggle with getting rid of possessions because you “might need it someday” or because of sentimental attachment, then check out her book Packrat to Clutter-Free to learn how she cleaned up her life in less than a year. (Jordin here – I just purchased her book and I cannot wait to read it!)
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