I Got Married!!!
First and foremost, I apologize for being so MIA. I did not realize how much wedding planning would take over my life. I am so excited to be back and share my insights with you from being engaged to getting married last week!
Here’s what I’ve learned…
1) Your wedding doesn’t have to be the best day of your life. And guess what? It wasn’t the best day of my life. Sure, it was definitely one of the best days of my life, but that unrealistic expectation that it will be “the best” in your life can be daunting and overwhelming.
2) You can make it it any way you want. You don’t have to have a traditional ceremony and reception. You can elope, you can choose to skip a ceremony, you can invite two people or 300 people...it’s up to you. The same goes for your definitions of marriage and partnership. In marriage, the idea of “forever” can be frightening. What does forever even mean? I have trouble deciding what to eat at night, or where to go out for a dinner date—how the heck am I supposed to decide on something that could be forever?
To make the occasion more personal to our relationship, my husband and I picked an officiant who is close to our hearts. She scripted a beautiful ceremony on what marriage meant for us, changing up the traditional ideas of “'Till Death Do Us Part," and “Together Forever."
Rather than focusing on being "tied together forever" in our vows, my husband and I committed to helping each other grow and becoming the best versions of ourselves. We promised to do the necessary inner work to make our relationship last. My husband and I both feel that therapy is very important, so we made a commitment to healing ourselves when it feels necessary. We made this commitment for ourselves, our partnership, and the planet.
We also made the wedding about our friends and the people we love most. We focused on gathering all of our loved ones together; to me, that was the most beautiful part of the wedding. Honestly, my girlfriends mean as much as my husband means to me. They are integral to who I am, and a major component of the healing process in my life. I value my friends as much as my marriage. To have them beside me through the process was a crucial part of my wedding.
I also want to note that you can make marriage whatever you want it to be. Some people get married for reasons like financial convenience or the desire to start a family. Some people get married for spiritual reasons or for their own personal development. For me, I chose Joel because he truly is my best friend. He is the greatest supporter I’ve ever had, and in my heart I know he's the best supporter I ever will have. I also know that he values personal growth and development, which is immensely important to me as well. I wanted someone who would push me—to remind me of the great inner work and healing within, and to compassionately support me in this healing so that I can support others (I want to add that this is my personal purpose, but it’s different for everyone, and can be completely different for you. That’s okay).
3) Doubts are okay. They’re okay. Doubts don’t mean you’re doing anything “wrong” or that you’re making a “wrong” choice. I was speaking to my husband yesterday, and he had a conversation with his therapist who said that doubting is very normal and healthy. To not experience doubt is actually a bit unhealthy. So rest assured that doubting whether you’re making the right decision is okay.
How do we deal with doubt? If you have ROCD, which is often called the "doubting disease," you may be familiar with this topic. Now, I don’t like saying that ROCD is a "disease"—but if you see this phrase thrown around, you know why. Doubting before making a commitment or choice is normal. I am giving you full, 100% permission to feel doubt.
4) Watch for the False Expectations (FE): There’s so much pressure around engagement and marriage, and I personally hate the pressure we get from society. Do you have the idea that when you get engaged you “should” be crying, ecstatic, telling the whole world, and feeling the happiest you’ve ever felt? If so, how does that expectation feel for you?
For me, it felt intimidating. I had been with my partner (now husband) for 9 years, and it already felt as though we were married. I also don’t necessarily value marriage that much as an institution. I am more committed to the idea of partnership—and my friends, and my purpose in life—than the idea of marriage itself. This is part of the reason I chose not to change my name after getting married.
I didn’t understand why I felt so pressured to consider being engaged the best feeling I'd ever experienced. When I gave myself permission to react naturally, in my own way—to not be over-the-moon ecstatic—the anxieties and shame lessened.
And, then, guess what? I ended up being excited and happy anyway :)
Weddings, as an event, are the same. You might be terrified, upset, or even grieving before your wedding day. You don’t have to be the ecstatic bride or groom (or whatever title you feel resonates with you). If you notice yourself “should-ing," try to catch yourself. I love the exercise of catching false beliefs and questioning where each belief came from. Is it from society telling you how your wedding day and engagement day should be?
5) Wedding Planning and Weddings Can Bring Up Stuff: Yes, wedding planning and weddings can bring up emotions such as doubt, fear, anxiety, sadness, etc.
Maybe you’re all of a sudden experiencing intense feelings of engulfment, deep-seated worries of abandonment, or even thoughts like—
“What if I become my parents?”
“What does a healthy marriage even look like?”
“What if I am making a mistake?”
“What does it even mean to be a wife?”
Throughout the process, I also noticed feelings of grief when I realized that my father, who passed several years ago, would not be there. This overwhelming sense of grief arose a week before my wedding date. I realized, at that moment, that I had kept this grief inside for many months leading up to the wedding.
It’s normal to also have many unconscious expectations and beliefs regarding how you should feel leading up to my marriage. This was normal for me as well. But—because I had done years of work and therapy—I knew what these emotions meant, and was able to work through them compassionately.
You may notice that other people, often family members, can get very involved in the wedding process. My husband and I experienced a lot of tension and chaos within our immediate family; it was painful, to say the least. Luckily, after the wedding, much of that tension has subsided. This is all to say: Give yourself permission for knowing that a significant event such as a wedding can unearth a lot of inner struggles. To endure these difficulties, we must practice immense compassion for and patience with ourselves. The fear and anxiety we feel within are not "wrong"—they are just energies working their way through our bodies and minds, searching for care and acceptance.
In conclusion, dear readers:
Your wedding day is your wedding day…or maybe it’s just another day! It’s however you want to make it and perceive it to be. It does not have to be what you see in movies (personally, that was the opposite of what I wanted!), and you don’t have to feel any one specific way before, during, or after the wedding. Just be mindful of your expectations and beliefs, and question where they are coming from.
Are your beliefs causing you suffering?
Are you should-ing all over yourself?
If so, be curious about those beliefs. Work on them by learning tools from the ROCD Course and Community, and—as always, if you’re truly struggling—reach out to our therapist Alexis De Los Santos, who works privately with clients dealing with ROCD, Relationship Obsessions and so much more.
It’s worth it… I promise.
Here’s to being a newly wife… and as always…