5. Addiction. Addiction is not just about alcohol or drugs. We can become addicted to food, shopping, sex, pornography and even to a relationship. Addictions reek havoc in a relationship, especially with trust. In some ways, the addiction becomes a third person in the relationship.

If your partner has an addiction, there is also the possibility that you feel like you are what holds this person together. Without you, you feel  they would fall apart or perhaps become depressed or suicidal which may leave you feeling trapped. This is a very difficult way to begin a marriage. If you are having doubts about getting married because there is an addiction or addictive behavior, then information is your most important intervention. AA and Smart Recovery are two wonderful organizations that provide information, literature, meetings and support groups. You will begin to understand what an addiction is, how to live with an addiction and how to be in a healthy relationship with an addict.

Many people who struggle with addictions are in rewarding, supporting and wonderful marriages. It does not mean that your relationship is doomed but it does mean that your relationship will have unique challenges. You need to be able to make an informed decision about the relationship. A psychotherapist or counselor who specializes in addiction is another great place to get information and support.

6. Difficult family relationships. When you get married you are creating a new family. In order for there to be room for this new family, you must first separate from your family of origin (your parents). This sounds easy as I type it but I have seen many couples where this step gets messy. Family dynamics and politics are complicated and unique.

If you are having doubts about your relationship because of messy, complicated family dynamics you need to make sure that you and your fiancé have strong communication skills. You cannot change anyone else’s behavior, expectations or feelings but you can make sure that you and your spouse are a team. You need to be unified in your expectations, boundaries and message to others. A couples counselor is the best place to learn these skills and to come up with a plan of action to cope with the wedding day and every day after.

Problems will arise if your partner is not willing or able to do this very important step of individuating and creating a new family. It can be very lonely in a marriage where you don’t feel that you are a central player; resentment and anger can build up quickly. Consider individual counseling so you can learn how to best ask for your needs from your partner and then couples counseling to help you both understand the need for boundaries and how to create them for yourselves.

7. Cheating. Is there a history of cheating in your relationship? It is devastating to have your trust betrayed and forgiveness and healing each take a long time.  But trust can be rebuilt and relationships can be stronger after a betrayal. It makes sense for there to be anxiety about entering into a commitment when there has been an affair. The fear is there that “once a cheater, always a cheater.”

I don’t believe this sentiment. But I do believe that you both need to understand what caused there to be an opening in your relationship for this third person; was it something in your dynamic together or was it something solely within the person who cheated? A psychotherapist or couples counselor can help greatly with this process.

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8. Sex. Sex is a complicated topic. It is central to an intimate relationship but it can feel almost impossible to talk about. Sex becomes an issue in a relationship when it is either too intense or there is no intensity at all. For some, it can be overwhelming to look at their current sex life and think that it might remain the same for the rest of their lives. Without open lines of communication and the skills to devise a plan, you begin to doubt whether you can stay committed forever.

Again, it is communication and knowledge that are the keys to alleviating this stress. You need to know what “married sex” is and how it differs from “new couple” sex. Don’t walk away until you can learn and discover more about your own and your partner’s sensuality. A couples counselor or sex therapist is a good place to begin. I also recommend the “Better Sex Video Series – Sexplorations” by the Sinclair Institute to almost every couple I work with as a teaching tool about how to talk about sex.

9. Illness. It can be terrifying when you find out that someone you love dearly has an illness. You may be flooded with so many difficult questions: How long will we have? How bad will it get? Will I have to be the caretaker and if so what happens to my needs, dreams and desires? Will my children inherit this illness?

If you or your fiancé has an illness and you are questioning if the relationship can work, you need more information. A joint visit to the doctors office can give you both a chance to ask questions and gather important information. Then a visit with a couples counselor can help you both fully express your fears and feelings and help you to listen empathically to the the other’s feelings.

We all want to know how our stories will end and we want to know now. We want to know before the wedding if our marriage will last 50+ years. It is very scary to make any decision about the rest of our life when we don’t feel we have all the answers. And when we feel jittery or anxious about a big decision we usually ask family members for reassurance. We ask if these feeling are “normal” and if they had these before they married. They will usually tell us this is all normal, to go ahead with the wedding and reassure us that everything will be OK. This rarely gets rid of wedding jitters.

The very best thing that you can do to alleviate the jitters is to get more information and open the lines of communication with your fiancé. Beginning this conversation may not remove all the jitters but solutions and paths forward will emerge. Also, consider using a couples counselor or individual psychotherapist to help. The best outcome would be that you gain:

  • The vision to know your needs.
  • The ability to ask for your needs bluntly.
  • The skills to express your feelings openly and be heard without judgement.
  • The perspective to be able to see the truth of your relationship and not just the fantasy of its potential alone.

With these you will be able to choose your partner with confidence, plan your wedding with excitement and joy and have the marriage you want and need. If you have any questions please contact me at www.DCCouplesCounseling.com.

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