Many singles are conflicted about marrying. They yearn for the fulfillment a good marriage brings but are afraid to commit. They fear it won’t work out, which, given the current high rate of marriage failures, is understandable.
It should come as no surprise that it takes a leap of faith to marry. The example below shows how one woman resolved her conflict about marrying. Her major challenges were learning to believe in herself and gaining trust that she could succeed.
How to Gain Faith
Ten years after her divorce, Katie, a flight attendant in her late 30s, had yearned to marry again but feared another divorce. Her good friends were either divorced or had never married. Cynical about marriage, they reinforced her skepticism.
Katie was in a relationship with Stanley, a divorced pilot. Besides being anti-marriage, he wasn’t as emotionally supportive or reliable as she needed in a life partner. She was settling for less than what she truly wanted.
But something inside Katie said “Don’t give up.” How she gained faith in her ability to succeed in marriage might be instructive for anyone in a similar position.
Katie decided to:
Learn what it takes to create a fulfilling marriage.
Katie started attending presentations by marriage and relationship experts. She learned that spouses should go out on a weekly date together, and on mini- and longer vacations. She read books advising marriage partners how to talk to each other positively and constructively, including when issues arise.
Befriend happily married people as advisors and role models.
Kate confided in Jackie, a happily married flight attendant in the crew she was then traveling with, about her frustrating search for a man to marry. Jackie told her, “It’s not like Prince Charming is going to suddenly appear; it’s more like you find a good man and help him become your ‘prince’ by how you relate to him.” She said, “You can do it.”
Katie joined a hiking group that included singles and couples. She became friendly with some of the couples who were models for good marriages.
Consult with people who help you gain faith.
Katie realized that Stanley was one of several noncommittal men she’d been involved with in the past few years. Recognizing her self-defeating pattern, she began seeing a psychotherapist. She felt understood by him. He listened well and she trusted him and the therapy process.
In time she ended her relationship with Stanley and began meeting men who were open to marrying. She had been consistently rejecting marriage-minded men. After hearing enough of her complaints about their minor imperfections, her therapist finally said after she expressed annoyance about one such man, “There you go again.” He was saying that she was finding flimsy excuses to reject men who threatened to be good marriage candidates. She was trying to head them off at the pass. By remaining single she would be safe from experiencing what she most feared: another marriage failure.
- Religious/Spiritual Advice
Psychotherapy was helping Katie end her futile dating pattern and allow men who might commit into her life. Yet she continued to be afflicted with self-doubt.
After attending an evening lecture by a renowned rebbe, she added her name to a long list of people waiting for a consultation. At 1:30 in the morning, she finally sat facing him in a private room. She confessed her fears about marriage. He spoke quietly and firmly: “Marriage will be the best thing for you. It won’t be 100 percent successful. You can expect 97 percent.”
She was riveted by this rebbe’s words. Perhaps it had something to do with the hoopla surrounding him, but his advice moved her more than it probably would have had it come from a less lofty source.
She absorbed his calm faith in her ability to have a good marriage. He also had given her a needed dose of reality. He helped quell her false belief that a less than perfect marriage signaled doom. Perfect marriages exist in fairytales and romantic novels, not in real life.
Faith Can Be Contagious
Katie’s story shows how faith, and also lack of faith, can be contagious. Katie’s trust in her ability to succeed in marriage was strengthened by her interactions with happily married couples and with people who believed she could succeed. Consequently, she became confident enough to end an unsatisfying relationship and enter a fulfilling, lifelong one.
She’s now been happily married for 25 years. Her husband is the man about whom, when she complained about a minor fault of his, her therapist had said, “There you go again.”
“My marriage is great, but not perfect. It’s 97 percent,” Katie says with a smile.
- There are many differences between a rabbi and a Rebbe. One is: “A rabbi answers questions, a Rebbe answers people. A rabbi hears what you say with your mouth, a Rebbe hears what you are saying with your soul.” (From Chabad.org)
- Names and other identifying details in this article have been changed to assure confidentiality.
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