Dear Rosie & Sherry,
I want to know if you could give me a little advice. I'm getting married in a week, and I'm very excited -- buuuut veeery nervous. All types of crazy thoughts are coming into my head: Am I ready for marriage? Is he the right guy? Maybe all this is a mistake!
This is driving me crazy and making me very tense. I don't know if you could help me, but a few words of pep might do the job.
First of all, mazel tov on your upcoming marriage. We love hearing good news like yours. We hope your wedding is wonderful, and that your marriage is even more wonderful. We also hope this letter will help you relax a little, so you can be a little less anxious and look forward to your wedding celebration.
The anxiety you are experiencing is very typical. In fact, it seems that the majority of engaged people go through the jitters, especially in the last few weeks before the wedding. Both of us remember going through it ourselves, and each of us has been happily married for more than 25 years, thank God.
The fact that this is a common experience may make you feel better, but something else should give you even more relief: Having "all sorts of crazy thoughts" is a sign of nervousness, not of any genuine problem in the relationship.
To calm yourself down, look at the qualities that made the two of you decide to get married. Think of the values you share and the dreams you have for life together. Common values and compatible goals are the cornerstone of every good marriage.
Next, think about how your relationship embodies the foundation of a loving, enduring life together. Couples who respect each other, admire their partner's character, feel affection for and attraction to one another, and are able to trust and confide in each other the way good friends do, have what it takes to build a great life together. If you concentrate on all of the positive things you and your future husband have going for you, you should feel calmer.
Undoubtedly, during the last few months you and your fiance have been under a great deal of stress. Planning a wedding and setting up a new home sound very exciting, but they are extremely pressure-filled. Realize that after the excitement of your wedding fades away, the two of you will be able to start recapturing the closeness you felt before the wedding seemed to take over. You'll also start building upon this closeness.
This is how every newly married couple spends their first months of marriage. In fact, the Torah creates a framework for this important time together: A new groom is exempt from army service during the first year of marriage, so the married couple can build the bond undistracted.
Now we want to let you in on a little secret that most newly married people don't know -- and we hope this doesn't start up your anxiety all over again. The first year of marriage will have many wonderful times, but it will also seem very difficult on occasion. It is important to know that every single couple goes through a challenging period of adjustment, without exception. Simply knowing this fact will keep you from wondering, "How can life with someone I think I love be so difficult. Did I make a mistake?" Instead, you can tell yourself, "Ahhh... this is the marriage growing pains that Rosie & Sherry told me about. This is normal, and the two of us will get through it and laugh about it a few years from now."
As much as you care for each other and "know" that you are right for each other, you don't yet appreciate the challenge of becoming accustomed to intimate, day-to-day life with someone else. Each of you has your own internal rhythms, habits, idiosyncrasies, ways of approaching problems and challenges, attitudes about finances, etc., etc. You now have to take a second person into account when you choose how to spend your time and money, care for your health, plan meals and household chores, etc. You'll also have to learn how to balance your own individuality (tastes, interests, friends) with the fact that sometimes, your individual preferences have to be set aside because your marriage is more important.
We don't know why more people don't let their engaged and newlywed friends in on this secret. Perhaps now that they have passed through their own "marriage growing pains," they've forgotten about them. Or maybe they're afraid they'll scare people out of getting married.
So instead, a lot of newlyweds wind up thinking there's something wrong with their relationship, when they're actually going through a normal process of building a life together. At the same time, you can concentrate on nurturing those aspects of your relationship that are going well, and within time you'll see that the good parts gradually outnumber the more unpleasant ones. (To get some pointers on how to nurture a marriage, look at Dating Maze #67 - Newlywed Blues.)
You have a lot to look forward to. Marriage is a great state to be in. We wish you and your husband-soon-to-be a joyous wedding and a wonderful life together. Mazel tov!
Rosie & Sherry