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Engaged and Confused?

What to do if you are ticked off as Wedding Day Countdown is ticking off –
By Aviva Rizel, LMFT
This article first appeared on
You know when you plan a huge trip way in advanced and are counting down the days? The anticipation of it sprinkles fairy dust over your life as you get closer and closer to thinking about checking out of here and checking in to there.
The big day arrives and it brings frenetic frantic. You are darting around, clutching your passport, squishing through and lifting off. Sweating, you remember your dressy shoes next to your bed at home. Grrr! You notice a guy across the aisle whom you swear you saw on the high-ranker terrorist list. Just in case, you subtly snap a selfie, making sure the suspect is in the foreground, and feel satisfied that if the plane blows up, they will find your invincible phone along with the black box.
You safely land, and see that this trip is just not getting better. You are stressed, flushed, thirsty, hungry, tired, and confused at just about every turn. You don’t want to go back home because you know vacations are supposed to be a good thing. “Maybe I just picked the wrong hotel. Maybe I should have gone with the first one I saw on Expedia.”
To add more confusion to your pile, friends are emailing, saying how they love all of your pics and how happy you look, and how jealous they are.
Soon you find yourself counting down the days until you know you will be back home. Deep down, you question if there is something wrong with your choices, or something wrong with you for not embracing good things in life.
This is basically what it feels like to be engaged to be married.
The anticipation of getting married began years, maybe even decades ago. You had it imagined with a faceless fiancée, everyone happy and your perfect wedding, your way. The picture in your mind developed as you developed and it is always centered around a happy, sure you.
One day, you actually are in a real relationship. A mostly warm and fuzzy, yummy, feel-good, cozy relationship. Before you know it, you are officially taking the next step and everybody is looking at the two of you the way they would look at a newborn baby. Yeah, you guys are cute and you know it.
But shortly after basking in the fawning, things begin to change. You have a lot of planning and decisions to make and every single one feels like it’s a life or death. “What world have I fallen into where floral arrangements hold such weight?!”
Little by little, the disproportionate amount of pressure sweeps over you and your partner, and no longer does it feel like you are on the same team. It actually begins to feel like you are more alone than when you were single. And one particular exchange with your spouse-to-be moves you from annoyed to raging.
“How could this be? Did I make the wrong choice? Why can’t I just be happy like every other normal engaged person?” you wonder as you furiously pace your room.
In fact, you are pacing as every other normal engaged person has paced. Everyone experiences this anger or disgust to varying degrees.
It doesn’t mean that you made the wrong choice, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you are not made for this. All it means is that something little upset you and that brought out something much bigger. It is time to stretch your muscles because you are getting a saturated preview of what it’s like to face conflict as a couple.
During times like these, you just want to turn away from each other. You may naturally even turn against each other. This is what happens naturally. This is the storm of disengagement and it can be triggered by the good things in life, like being at odds over where to buy a big house, the bad things in life, like trying to decide on a school for your troubled son, or by holding onto life itself, like caring for a terminally ill family member.
Now is the time to weather the storm by turning towards each other. Granted, it is far easier said than done.
First, take some time to figure out what is activating you (eg when he or she makes decisions without my input, it makes me feel out of control, like I will not have enough of a voice in this marriage. That makes me scared. It also makes me wonder if I mean that much to my fiancée. That too is scary and even a bit embarrassing.).
Then, when you are both at a calm moment, share those bigger feelings. Take it nice and slow. Make sure to consciously take deep breathes while talking about what activated you. Be careful not to get lost in the material that is activating you. Lean in to each other. When you have conversations from this softer place, don’t be surprised if you find yourself picking off specs of fairy dust the next day.
Aviva Rizel is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Cedarhurst, NY and can be reached at 347-292-8482.

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Posted by on January 8, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.