What I’ve long suspected appears to be true: people should pay more, not less, attention to wedding day doubts.
It’s so easy to get caught up in a major infatuation, make a hasty commitment, get lost in planning a special day and then, as the day creeps closer and reality settles in, you start asking yourself: what am I getting myself into?
A study posted in the online Journal of Family Psychology warns that significant doubts are worth heeding. Wedding day doubts often signal a less satisfying marriage is ahead as well as signaling a much higher likelihood of divorce. Among women, more doubts on the wedding day signaled a divorce rate 2.5 times higher than those who married without doubts. Keep in mind, the study focused on just four years, yet it already shows a disturbing trajectory. Who knows what the numbers would be if the researchers had followed it up for ten years?
Sadly, I’ve seen too many people “go through” with a wedding because calling it off would be “embarrassing.”
Ask yourself (or the person getting married coming to you for counsel): would you rather be embarrassed for a few weeks, or poorly matched in marriage for fifty to sixty years? When people refuse to call off a wedding due to embarrassment, they’ve lost all sense of proportion.
Being “nervous” is different than having doubts. If you’re nervous due to the large commitment involved, that just means you have a firm grasp of the awesome step you’re about to take. If you’ve properly prepared and are marrying this person for all the right reasons, you can mentally go through the list of why the marriage makes sense, and proceed with confidence because it will still make sense. If, however, mentally going through that list makes you become even more nervous, then that reveals there may be good reasons not to go through with the wedding. Your head may have finally caught up with your heart and could be warning you not to do what you’re about to do.
If this is you, find a friend or mentor to pray through your concerns. You need a person strong enough to tell you the truth and who knows you well enough to discern if you’re just the nervous type needing reassurance, or if God is graciously warning you away from making a less-than-wise lifetime commitment.
Share your story: did you have wedding day doubts? How did you deal with them? Let’s help singles process this.
(For more on this, see the chapter entitled “Mercy Marriages” in my book, The Sacred Search. I’ve also written a premarital counseling guide for couples entitled The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide, which is designed to help couples work through their doubts before their wedding day. It’s being re-titled and re-released as 9 Must Have Conversations for a Doubt Free Wedding Day)
[photo: Creative Commons, PeterJBellis]