Dealing With Doubts
- Robert and Rosemary Barnes eHarmony.com
- 2003 10 Oct
We think of being in love, finding "the one," as a step-by-step process. At the first step we're alone and by the end we're not. We don't always stop to think about the fact of living through this process. Looking at the happiness of other couples, it's easy to assume that they are always sure of themselves, always happy, and never experience any doubts about their choices, but nothing could be further from the truth. You will experience doubts and insecurities in even the healthiest relationship. The most important thing is not to avoid these feelings, but to accept them and deal with them well.
The first step is to be willing to acknowledge that feelings of doubt are okay to have. Looking back over your shoulder once you've decided on a course is only natural. Still, you may find yourself asking about the people who have entered into serious relationships and seem to have no doubts at all. Why is it that some people seem so confident and others seem plagued with doubts?
Well, some people make decisions based totally on emotion. They get their adrenaline running at such a high pitch that they don't stop to analyze their actions and decisions. For the person who makes their decisions based solely on their emotions, a time will come when they will have to deal with doubts, usually at some point when it will be more difficult for them.
Other people have doubts and insecurities, but choose not to talk about them. They may feel guilty about even having these feelings in the first place. "After all", they may ask themselves, "look at all the wonderful things my partner has brought into my life. Look at all the ways I'm better for knowing them. What right have I to question my decision to be with them?"
It's important to let these feelings surface. Having such doubts and concerns is very natural, and they serve a very helpful purpose. Being in love and choosing to commit, particularly choosing to get married to someone, is a life-changing decision. Doubts offer an opportunity to cut through the emotions of the situation, allowing you to consider for yourself where the relationship is taking you and with whom it is taking you there.
When you find yourself feeling these doubts and looking back over your shoulder, it's time to locate the focal point of these fears. Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Am I ready to commit?
Being in love with someone and committing to them, particularly marrying them, is a huge step. It's not an additive to your life's agenda - an agenda you've already set in place and will try to work your marriage into. It is an agenda all in itself, an alternative to how you lived before you made the decision to share your life with someone. Yes, it can be a huge decision and people should take it more seriously than they so often do.
To be honest, no one is "ready" to commit. You must simply commit to learning more about your partner every day and be willing to take things one day at a time, patiently building a life together, and not expecting that your love will sweep all of your insecurities away. Remember that acknowledging your fears and insecurities isn't a betrayal; it's one of the best ways to take your partner into your confidence.
- Who is this person I've fallen in love with?
As a relationship becomes more solid, as you become more committed to another person, and especially as you head toward a marriage, the tension may lead you to believe that you've been blind to the things you now see in your partner. After all, when you begin to date, you see only perfection in your partner. As things become more serious, these perfections may begin to wear thin.
Everyone needs the right to be human. Imperfections are a reality of life, even if seeing them in your partner may come as a shock to you. It's healthy to see them simply as they are: imperfections or immaturities, nothing more. We all have them. The finishing school of love, the years involved, seems to be one of God's ways of smoothing these rough edges over, and you should take heart in this.
Make a list of all the ways your partner enriches you, the things about them that drew you to them. Remember that though they may have imperfections only recently noticed, they still possess the things that drew you to them, and it is in these things that you will find comfort when you feel annoyed, frustrated, or angry.
- Am I concerned about myself? About Marriage?
"I finally realized," Brian said to his counselor, "it's not Linda that I have these doubts about, it's really me." Brian had come in alone for pre-marriage counseling with a written list of things about Linda that were causing him concern, but he finally realized that it wasn't his fiancée that was causing him the jitters, it was his own readiness.
Many people ask themselves, "Will I still get what I want after the wedding?" This common and self-centered viewpoint suggests a real misunderstanding of what marriage is. The correct outlook is not "I got married," but rather "I am married."
"I am married" means that I will go into the marriage questing to blend rather than to win. The wedding is not just a ceremony where a person gets married. It's the beginning of a quest. When you quest to share ideas rather than to get your own way, God gives you dreams that are greater than those you had as a single person.
Doubt is a Good Thing
These difficult questions may give you further doubts, but that's good! You're thinking! It's healthy to ask these questions. Having such doubts and considering these questions doesn't make you disloyal to your partner, nor does it mean your feelings aren't real. But it's important to make absolutely sure you know how you feel and what you need before things get too serious, so that you can be confident that your choice, whatever doubts you may have, was the right choice. You and your partner will be better for having done so.
Falling in love, committing to someone, and eventually heading into marriage isn't just a process of steps. It's a quest - to become more whole, to grow closer to God, and to share rather than always get one's way. After a period of adjustment to the commitment, you'll be able to decide to simply be committed. It's then that God gives us dreams greater than we would have thought of on our own. Your differences will be strengths, and you'll be stronger together. You'll potentially find greater happiness than you've previously known.
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