How Much Doubt is Normal Before Your Wedding Day?
A couples' therapist explains what doubt is normal before the big day.
As you move closer to the big day, realization of the commitment that comes with a wedding becomes more and more clear. Obviously, there are some natural fears associated with this humungous life choice, and while a lot of these fears are completely normal and understandable, many worry about tensions that may arise as the wedding date approaches. We spoke with Dr. Tina Tessina, a couples' psychotherapist who has 40 years of counseling experience and 37 years of marriage under her belt, to find out what doubts are normal and what couples should look at a little more closely.
“Usually, doubts show up as milestones toward the wedding day are reached: choosing the venue, the dress, sending invitations,” Tessina said. “Each of these milestones make the approaching day more real. Often, focusing on the wedding preparations is steeped in fantasy, but as each preparation is finalized, the real meaning of the event becomes more important, and scary.”
As the finality becomes clearer, Tessina explained that a lot of people start to worry about giving up their fun dating lives for what they view as a “seriousness of marriage.” Tessina understands that a lot of these doubts are natural, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
“Take all of your fears seriously—they’re trying to tell you where you feel unprepared,” Tessina said. “Confront each fear as it arises, think about how realistic the fear is, how you’re going to handle that situation if it comes up, and discuss it with your partner.”
Tessina gave examples of financial and emotional fears as good topics to address as they arise—it also gives you and your partner the chance to learn from and reassure each other. She also specified that these are all topics that could be addressed with a counselor—and she shares a “three-day rule” that she established with her husband that helps them determine when it’s time to call in a third party.
“When my husband and I got married 37 years ago, we agreed beforehand that if any problems came up between us that we could not solve in three days, we’d have a counseling session,” Tessina said. “We had several counseling sessions through the first couple years of our marriage, and we’ve been very happy together.”
Mostly, if you’re worried that your concerns may be indicative of a larger problem, Tessina believes that you should ask yourself a few questions.
“Ask yourself: ‘Have I considered my fears carefully? Are they realistic? Have we discussed them with each other? Are we able to support and help each other work through the doubts?’” Tessina said. “When you can answer yes to these, you’ll be OK. If you wind up arguing or fighting, you need to get some pre-marital counseling.”