Thursday, March 18, 2010

ready or not, here we come

I have a fear of divorce.
A troublesome, worrying, want-to-curl-myself-into-the-fetal-position kind of fear of divorce.

It's not pretty, and it's not constant, but it's there. In the back of my mind. And it's been there since we got engaged. Actually, that's a lie. For the first 8 months of our engagement, I don't even think I realized we were getting married. And no, I'm not stupid, thank you. I was just caught up in the hub-bub of wedding planning. My brain was all fuzzy and I couldn't see the marriage for the wedding. Yep, I was one of those girls. Thank God that didn't last.

And since the day the wedding fuzz stopped clouding my vision, I've been scared of divorce. Finally realizing what a huge commitment marriage really is can be a scary thing. Terrifying actually. Have I mentioned the fetal position? We'd talked about marriage for years prior to getting engaged, but there's something about being 5 months away from the big day that has the ability to snap you back into reality with lightning speed.

Everything that had previously seen so stable and certain suddenly seemed to be the exact opposite. I felt as though my feet had been kicked out from under me and I was looking at our relationship from a whole new angle. And that angle left me wondering things like: are we right for each other? do we fight too much? will it really last? how do we know marriage is right for us?

And the last question has stuck with me the longest: how do we know that marriage is right for us? Personally, I don't subscribe to the whole "you just know" philosophy. I do believe people can genuinely "just know", but I am not one of those people. While I realize that love can't be imperially measured or even seen, but I needed something more than a feeling. I mean, c'mon, it's marriage. The big one. How could I base the biggest decision of my life on a feeling?

Well, that's what I'm going to have to do. Because although Dr. Phil seems to think we're ready, we'll never actually know until we jump in. I don't know we'll be together forever, but we share a mutual desire to make this relationship work. I don't know marriage is right for us, I can only feel it. There's no proof, no flow charts, no diagrams that indicate -- without a doubt -- that our marriage will work. We could be married for 40 years and discover that it's just not working. Or we could come to the same conclusion 4 days after the honeymoon. That's the part that scares me. Flow charts are for sure, this is not.

But we have a great (albeit, not perfect) relationship that works because we really, really want it to. And there is some circumstantial evidence (I watch way too much Law & Order) that what we're doing isn't totally crazy: the last 5 years are proof that we do have at least a decent amount of sustainability; we have a compatible outlook for the future; our core values and desire are similar; we treat each other with respect; we communicate (not always super well, but it happens); and more importantly, we laugh, a lot.

I don't think any of us will ever know if what we're doing is right. Marriage or not, life seems to be a trial-and-error kind of deal. All I know is that I'd rather take the risk than spend my entire life sitting around for some scientists in a lab to develop a way to tell me with 100% certainty that marriage is right for us.

But, if you're not so apt to go with this whole "feeling" thing, you could always get some proof here and here. Apparently online generators can tell you, unequivocally, whether or not you're ready for marriage in with the help of as little as 8 questions!

So what if it made me feel a little, teeny bit better that both of these quizzes told me I was ready for marriage?

Don't judge.


Lisa said...

not judging at all. we are going through kind of a rough patch now about how my fiance's parent's divorce affected him. i think you are very smart to go into this thinking about things like divorce and how to make everything work. the more real something is (or the closest to the date), the more you want to make sure everything is in order to make it last and make the right decisions. good luck!

also, i love quizzes so totally not judging :)

SG said...

I worry about divorce too, my parents are divorced and I've seen friends divorce before their 30th birthday. But ultimately marriage is a crap shoot, there are no guarantees all you can do is try your hardest to make it work and have faith.

Cupcake Wedding said...

I feel the say way. How do I know I am going to still feel this way in 10 years? 20? 40?

It is terrifying, but not crippling. If anything, I think divorce makes me feel better about marriage. If I screw up, it could be embarassing, humbling, etc, but it isn't permanent. If he starts cheating on me or hitting me, or even if I decide I love someone else, there is an exit.

Margaret said...

Same here. Very confused about this topic, actually, and have been most of my life. I've come to the point where I feel confident and happy (really happy) about marrying my guy, but I still worry... and I don't think any test or quiz will give me the certainty I want (though like you mentioned, I do feel like I have good circumstantial evidence ;)).

I know so many couples who professed to feeling the same way, and then *poof*, they didn't. Now I don't think love and commitment are really a matter of luck/chance/magic... but nobody knows what he future holds and people DO change - I've already changed a lot in the 10 years since I was 17... what makes me think I'll be the same/feel the same when I'm 37?

I have a... mental block? when it comes to divorce in the personal sense. I know, logically, that sometimes it makes more sense than being miserable (and of course, cheating and abuse are two things I would not tolerate), but I also feel strongly (irrationally?) that I never, ever want to get divorced. And I don't know why I feel that way -- I'm not religious at all. And I know life is short and somtimes I'm not sure I believe that life-long monogomy makes sense, biologically speaking. Sometimes I also wonder why we, as a culture, sort of fetishize the idea of staying in love with one person for 50+ years. (Other times, I feel like we pay too much heed to the pursuit of personal happiness and 100% fufillment, when honestly, we're incredibly privileged to even be pondering such questions).

And yet. I want to believe that we can sustain this love.

What confuses me is: doesn't everyone? So what happens? Sigh. The thing is, whether we made it official or not, my guy and I already decided that we want to TRY to stay with each other forever, so the marriage thing makes it more public, but the riskiness-yet-hopefulness of our commitment has existed for a long time.

Anyway, love discussing this topic and feel somehow encouraged to know I'm not alone. :)

kc said...

I have the same fears. I think it's common really, and also a healthy sign that you are aware of the commitment you're making. The common thread I've seen in good marriages around me is awareness of each other and the choice they've made, and then making that choice every day, even when it's difficult. I think that's really the best anyone can do.

Mrs T said...

I didn't "just know" either. I think it's all a leap of faith. And faith in another person is hard to have if you've been burned before.

But being on the other side, and having had all these same thoughts as you before, let me tell you it's better over on this side. I feel sure now.

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