Marriage - if there's any doubt, DON'T?


#1

This is purely hypothetical my point of view, as I’m long married and divorced, but I hope that it provides some thoughtful and helpful answers for other people who are contemplating marriage.

I remember, as an Anglican, hear our married priest talk, in a sermon, of how terrified he was before his wedding. He didn’t know whether to go ahead with it. But now he was happily married, and his lesson was that sometimes we have to forget our fears, and go forward in faith. Five years later he was divorced.

In the months before my own wedding, I was thrown about by doubts, I felt that although I wanted to marry my fiancee, I didn’t really love her deeply. But I told myself that being “in love” was different from “loving”, and I was confident that I could “love” her, as a decision. Ten years later she left me, and then divorced me, complaining that I didn’t really love her.

During our own marriage preparation classes the priest who spoke to us said that since the start of the classes one of the couples had decided to break-off their engagement, and he said that was a very good thing, and anyone else feeling unsure should do the same. (Ouch!!!)

I’ve also heard the advice, that if there’s any doubt - don’t get married.

What are other peoples experiences? Are “doubts” really a deal breaker?

Particularly, are there people who had doubts, and have remained happily married, or are there people who had no doubts, and had a miserable marriage?

Thankyou,

Edmundus


#2

My own experience was a bit different. I had a slight worry that I wasn't doing the right thing. I think this was because of the gravity of the decision. I fully intended to fulfill my obligation to my husband, though. My husband, on the other hand, had huge doubts - it took me six and a half years to finally walk down the aisle. On the wedding day, he contemplated jumping out of the car.

He said (very candidly) that the reason he was uncertain was that he wondered if there was a better suited girl for him out there, and that if he married me, he might not be able to be with this potential perfect girl. He finally decided that I was the best he had met, and that if there was someone out there who was better, he hadn't met her yet and may never meet her. He understood that marriage happens once for a Catholic, and so he waited until he was really sure before we married. As for his fear on the wedding day, I think it was just nerves. He also said that as soon as he saw me, all doubt left him.

We still have a very strong marriage, eight years later. I must say, I'm glad we waited until hubby had worked things out for himself.


#3

Thanks Admonsta.

You make a good point that there is the option of waiting. My own courship and engagement was very brief. I wish that I had decided to wait longer, and really sort through any problems, rather than feel that I had to make a "yes" or "no" decision before I was sure. Part of the problem was, paradoxically, her parents applying pressure not to get married. It actually made it more difficult to admit problems.

[quote="admonsta, post:2, topic:205251"]
He understood that marriage happens once for a Catholic, and so he waited until he was really sure before we married.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

He also said that as soon as he saw me, all doubt left him.

:D

We still have a very strong marriage, eight years later. I must say, I'm glad we waited until hubby had worked things out for himself.

Like I said...


#4

It would depend on what the doubts where.

As a Catholic only gets one chance at marriage it is certainly not something to be undertaken lightly with just anyone obviously.


#5

I was engaged and had all sorts of doubts about our future and about marrying him being my vocation.We did not get married and calling off that wedding was one of the best decisions I ever made. I know now that I would have been very unhappy.

I think doubts should be taken more seriously rather than brushed off as cold feet.People like to give you bad advice like oh you're just stressed about your wedding, or you are just stressed about work. People get pretty far into the wedding planning process and ignore their doubts because they think they have come to far to turn back. TURN BACK!! Cold feet I would say is being nervous about the actual wedding(not the marriage) or just slightly nervous about the hugeness of the comittment. Having doubts about wether it is the right person or wether it is your vocation are more than just cold feet.


#6

[quote="Edmundus1581, post:1, topic:205251"]
Particularly, are there people who had doubts, and have remained happily married, or are there people who had no doubts, and had a miserable marriage?

[/quote]

First time I got married I had no doubts. Sadly, it soon became obvious that we had made a mistake. We stuck it out for eight L-O-N-G years before we put that marriage out of it's misery. Many years later I met my current wife. Until the day of the wedding I was eaten up with doubt; not about her but about me. I knew, however, that she was a wonderful woman, that it just doesn't get any better than her, so I literally forced myself to go through with it. Thank goodness I did. I am now very happy and satisfied. I can't imagine life without her.

Edit: Saw this post after posting mine.

I think doubts should be taken more seriously rather than brushed off as cold feet.

Even though I had a happy outcome, I have to agree with this. In my case, my doubts were about myself and my ability to be a good husband. I think I pushed through my doubts because I knew that being a good husband was something that was under my control - and I was determined to give my wife the best life I possibly could. If, on the other hand, you have doubts about your potential spouse, run like the wind.


#7

[quote="rick43235, post:6, topic:205251"]
Even though I had a happy outcome, I have to agree with this. In my case, my doubts were about myself and my ability to be a good husband. I think I pushed through my doubts because I knew that being a good husband was something that was under my control - and I was determined to give my wife the best life I possibly could. If, on the other hand, you have doubts about your potential spouse, run like the wind.

[/quote]

Good point. I did not think to distinguish doubts about yourself from doubts about your partner.


#8

:shrug:my heart sinks in me when I read these posts.
I am currently dating the most wonderful guy... and he is talking about engagement.
But inspite of his wonderfulnes I doubt about him. I wonder.. could I meet someone in whom I would fall much more in love? There is a lack inside me in my feelings and it has been a struggle for some months already. Frankly.. I am not getting any younger (28 already) and this guy is awesome - Catholic, intelligent, funny, good looking, Considerate, my friend! etc - and I just feel I would be a major idiot if I just let him walk away just because my expectations from my own emotions are dissapointed.


#9

As others have stated, it depends on what those doubts are. However, I have known a few to either go through with the wedding or walk away due to a few major red flags. My husband's ex-wife gave him the ultimatum to either marry her or part ways (after 7 years of dating on and off) and he didn't want to lose her friendship but he didn't want to marry her either but he decided that he owed her marriage after all those years. Needless to say, no one was surprised that they divorced. My cousin had a similar situation, ready to give the ultimatum, but then realized that if she had to give an ultimatum that they shouldn't get married because it would end badly (better to have pain from a gf/bf breakup than from a marriage breakup). She walked away after 7 years of dating. That was very wise of her.

My sister-in-law called off her wedding the week of because she realized that she could not imagine having relations with her fiance, I mean, she was repulsed by the idea. Again, better to walk away before the wedding. Some people have the courage to do that, most don't.


#10

[quote="Edmundus1581, post:1, topic:205251"]
This is purely hypothetical my point of view, as I'm long married and divorced, but I hope that it provides some thoughtful and helpful answers for other people who are contemplating marriage.

I remember, as an Anglican, hear our married priest talk, in a sermon, of how terrified he was before his wedding. He didn't know whether to go ahead with it. But now he was happily married, and his lesson was that sometimes we have to forget our fears, and go forward in faith. Five years later he was divorced.

In the months before my own wedding, I was thrown about by doubts, I felt that although I wanted to marry my fiancee, I didn't really love her deeply. But I told myself that being "in love" was different from "loving", and I was confident that I could "love" her, as a decision. Ten years later she left me, and then divorced me, complaining that I didn't really love her.

During our own marriage preparation classes the priest who spoke to us said that since the start of the classes one of the couples had decided to break-off their engagement, and he said that was a very good thing, and anyone else feeling unsure should do the same. (Ouch!!!)

I've also heard the advice, that if there's any doubt - don't get married.

What are other peoples experiences? Are "doubts" really a deal breaker?

Particularly, are there people who had doubts, and have remained happily married, or are there people who had no doubts, and had a miserable marriage?

Thankyou,

Edmundus

[/quote]

There will always be doubts, be it self induced or adversity. Throw in the fact that the enemy wants to divide and conquer a union in Christ of man and women, no wonder marriage is tough. A priest once told me a little about the strength of this union, something I didn't know in the 22 years I have been with my wife. The ability to adapt and overcome, to survive the individuals changes as a couple, the grace given to this union. We all know that love is a choice and when things get tough, what are you going to choose? That determines the weight of doubt.


#11

If you marry with no doubts, you are either very lucky, very foolish, or unusually sensible.

You have to ask yourself: Why am I doubting? Is there any evidence that I have a real reason to have my reservations about this? If the doubts are about things that have to change in order for the marriage to work, then that is a red flag. I mean, "I worry that he won't stop drinking so much" or "I'm concerned that marriage won't make me mature" or "I'm afraid we'll never learn to argue without hurting each other" or "I worry that not feeling such or so way about my fiance will translate into a lack of the sustained will to love her and honor her as I am promising to do" or "I worry that her looks might change, or might not change, in which case I can't do this for a lifetime" or "I worry that he won't ever learn how to deal with his parents in a healthy way" or "I worry that we'll never work out the problem of how many children to have and what kind of religious life to have in our home". And so on. These are real issues that ruin marriages. These questions need to be answered in a satisfactory way *before *marriage.

If on the other hand, your doubts are along these lines: "I have always been mature enough in every other phase of my life so far, but I'm afraid that marriage or parenthood will ask more of me that I can handle"..."I am as good an employee as anyone I know, but what if I can't support my family?"..."My parents (who married too young and under pressure from parents) failed, so I am afraid that we (not burdened with the same handicaps) are sure to fail" or "My fiance is a great person, and one of the least shallow people I know, but what if my looks fail, will he still love me?". These are concerns that about possibilities for which there is no evidence that the feared outcome is more likely for you than for anyone else who ever married. You can't know unless you try. In that case, you still have to honor reservations, if you cannot let go of them, but you aren't bound to hold onto them if you don't want to. You can ignore them, if you decide to.


#12

It's hard to identify whether the doubts you have are rational or not once you are actually engaged. I just proposed to my gf, and although I know I am ready for marriage and know I chose the right person, I sometimes worry whether she is ready.

For us we are both virgins (in our early 30's), and although I don't fear the wedding night (I guess I can see how I might be nervous, but I look forward to it much more after a very long wait), she has indicated that she doesn't know how she will react. She told me the other day that she's never had a strong desire for sex before. She wants children of her own very much (she's a teacher and loves kids), but I do worry that we will end up in a sexless marriage. Although I don't think my libido is atypically high, I also don't think I could handle a marriage of forced celibacy.

So far we've dated for 3 years and never had a problem with not feeling passionate for each other, so I worry whether her fears are just those of a virgin woman or a legitimate problem. It's something I'm going to bring up again once our priest begins the premarital engagement counseling.

Since marriage is a sacramental commitment, it is no doubt serious.


#13

[quote="Maeglin, post:12, topic:205251"]
She told me the other day that she's never had a strong desire for sex before. She wants children of her own very much (she's a teacher and loves kids), but I do worry that we will end up in a sexless marriage.

[/quote]

Others on here may disagree, and I don't mean any disrespect, but I'm afraid that a "sexless marriage" is exactly what you are going to get. To your girlfriend's credit, she has warned you. The question is, are you REALLY hearing it?


#14

[quote="EasterJoy, post:11, topic:205251"]
If you marry with no doubts, you are either very lucky, very foolish, or unusually sensible.

You have to ask yourself: Why am I doubting? Is there any evidence that I have a real reason to have my reservations about this? If the doubts are about things that have to change in order for the marriage to work, then that is a red flag. I mean, "I worry that he won't stop drinking so much" or "I'm concerned that marriage won't make me mature" or "I'm afraid we'll never learn to argue without hurting each other" or "I worry that not feeling such or so way about my fiance will translate into a lack of the sustained will to love her and honor her as I am promising to do" or "I worry that her looks might change, or might not change, in which case I can't do this for a lifetime" or "I worry that he won't ever learn how to deal with his parents in a healthy way" or "I worry that we'll never work out the problem of how many children to have and what kind of religious life to have in our home". And so on. These are real issues that ruin marriages. These questions need to be answered in a satisfactory way *before *marriage.

If on the other hand, your doubts are along these lines: "I have always been mature enough in every other phase of my life so far, but I'm afraid that marriage or parenthood will ask more of me that I can handle"..."I am as good an employee as anyone I know, but what if I can't support my family?"..."My parents (who married too young and under pressure from parents) failed, so I am afraid that we (not burdened with the same handicaps) are sure to fail" or "My fiance is a great person, and one of the least shallow people I know, but what if my looks fail, will he still love me?". These are concerns that about possibilities for which there is no evidence that the feared outcome is more likely for you than for anyone else who ever married. You can't know unless you try. In that case, you still have to honor reservations, if you cannot let go of them, but you aren't bound to hold onto them if you don't want to. You can ignore them, if you decide to.

[/quote]

This ought to be a sticky.


#15

Thankyou everyone for your replies! All very good experience and advice.

Firstly, I should correct my original post. The priest in the marriage preparation didn't say that if you were unsure then you should not marry. He just encouraged us all that cancelling the engagement could be a very good choice. Apologies. I was trying to recall a few words from 25 years ago.

It looks like the theme is that it is normal and sensible to have some doubts, but it is also sensible to objectively look at the doubts and ask oneself whether they are about things which will seriously undermine the marriage.

A crucial test is whether I am depending on something changing in my spouse, or in me, after we get married. I say "depending on", because of course we will change a lot in marriage, hopefully for the better, but we should have serious reservations if our hopes for the marriage are depending on something changing.

The other side of that would be depending on something which is changeable not changing. Marrying a man for his money, a women for her charm, are obvious cases. It might even be something apparently deeper, but still changeable, eg a shared interest. In our case, it was a shared enthusiasm for our religion. It didn't last, and once it was gone, the human bonds just weren't there to sustain the marriage. This particular cause of mis-marriage seems to be more common in protestant circles, but can happen to Catholics.

I would also warn that the person who desires the marriage more, may say and do all things the he/she sees the other looking for, even with 100% genuine intentions. It won't last.

And, as all of you pointed out - it's better to bail out any time right up to the wedding day, than go ahead with serious reservations.

Thanks again,

Edmundus


#16

[quote="rick43235, post:13, topic:205251"]
Others on here may disagree, and I don't mean any disrespect, but I'm afraid that a "sexless marriage" is exactly what you are going to get. To your girlfriend's credit, she has warned you. The question is, are you REALLY hearing it?

[/quote]

Not so. My sister said almost the exact same thing to her fiance (and everyone else) before getting married. They are VERY much honeymooners, and from some of the TMI she shared (she's really open about these things :( ) I gather she quite enjoys what she once feared...


#17

[quote="GraceDK, post:8, topic:205251"]
:shrug:my heart sinks in me when I read these posts.
I am currently dating the most wonderful guy... , I just feel I would be a major idiot if I just let him walk away just because my expectations from my own emotions are dissapointed.

[/quote]

Hi Grace, I'm sure that everyone reading this thread was touched by your post, and had a thought or two. But we witheld our (tentative) opinions, rather than interfere in such a delicate process.

I hope you found the other posts in the thread helpful.

:gopray2:


#18

[quote="shelby2014, post:16, topic:205251"]
Not so. My sister said almost the exact same thing to her fiance (and everyone else) before getting married. They are VERY much honeymooners, and from some of the TMI she shared (she's really open about these things :( ) I gather she quite enjoys what she once feared...

[/quote]

I agree with this.
I think most people who have never had sex (or engaged in other sexual activity) have a sleeping sexuality.
Once the person's sexuality is awakened then it might be quite passionate. The woman should enjoy the peace she has now, until her lover wakes it up :)


#19

[quote="GraceDK, post:18, topic:205251"]
I agree with this.
I think most people who have never had sex (or engaged in other sexual activity) have a sleeping sexuality.
Once the person's sexuality is awakened then it might be quite passionate. The woman should enjoy the peace she has now, until her lover wakes it up :)

[/quote]

Sounds nice. My best wishes to all those in that situation. But... I think that having a "willingness to go to counseling when necessary" should be part of the marriage vows.

(My wife and I were chaste before marriage and unfortunately far too chaste after marriage, for years at a time. Even if it wouldn't have made any difference, I think I would have been happier if she had been open to counseling or Marriage Encounter, etc.)

  • curl

#20

Thank you for the advice everyone. It just goes to show that sometimes it is tough to discern the future problems of a marriage. Every relationship is as unique as the individuals, and sometimes there is no precedent in the relationship that can be used to predict the future stability of the marriage.


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