If you’re a woman who’s been wanting marriage for a long time, and it hasn’t happened, possibly your attitude has been holding you back. Women in my “Marry with Confidence” workshops have expressed these attitudes:
- All the good men are married.
- There aren’t enough single men in my area.
- Men my age want a much younger woman.
- Men want a thinner woman.
- I’m afraid of getting into a bad marriage.
- I’m too flawed to create a good marriage.
Beliefs can create self-fulfilling prophesies. If you’re convinced that all the good men are taken, you may ignore fine men or reject them for nonsensical reasons. You are less likely to notice or respond to signs of interest from them because they exist beneath your radar.
If you’re sending yourself negative messages, examine them. Here’s how to refute a few of them:
1. All the good men are married.
This is simply not true. It may be your excuse for not facing your ambivalence about marrying.
2. There are too few single men in my area.
Okay, maybe there is a lack of eligible men in your town or city. So what?
Julie was in her early thirties and living in Marin County, California, a suburban area filled with many married folks and relatively few single men. She drove over an hour to singles events in Santa Clara County, where many eligible men work in computer-related industries. She met her husband of 32 years there.
You no longer need to leave home these days to find “Mr. Right,” what with all the available online dating sites.
Also, just because there may be relatively few available men in your area doesn’t mean that you can’t marry one of them. As my mother, of blessed memory, used to say, “It only takes one!”
3. Men my age want a much younger woman.
Do you want someone who’s looking for a trophy wife? Emotionally mature men want not just chemistry, but also good character traits, similar values, common interests, and usually someone within a few years of their age, in either direction.
4. Men want a thinner woman.
Why would you want someone who’s overly concerned with superficial characteristics, such as height, weight, or income? If you value your unique self, you’re likely to attract someone who treasures the essential you.
Another memorable quote from my mother, this one about zaftig women: “Some men like to get lost in the folds.”
5. I’m afraid of ending up in a bad marriage.
This is a common fear, given current divorce rates.
Some marriages don’t last because the partners were initially attracted to each other but weren’t compatible for the long haul. Others end because spouses have not learned how to communicate well.
Taking a proactive approach will vastly increase your ability to succeed. Here’s how:
- Develop self-awareness about your many positive qualities, and also about a few of a few of your less than perfect aspects.
- Identify qualities you need in a partner. Distinguish between needs and wants.
- Learn how to communicate constructively while dating.
- Get to know happily married people who can serve as role models.
- Before tying the knot, learn from experts how to keep a marriage thriving. (Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted includes seven key communication skills for keeping a relationship thriving, before and after marriage.)
6. I’m too flawed to create a good marriage.
So maybe you’re feeling handicapped because you’re a little neurotic or have some other alleged defect. Regardless of outward appearances, everyone has insecurities, eccentricities, hot buttons related to “unfinished business” from childhood, or something else.
Actually, in a good marriage you can still be neurotic. Your husband will keep loving you, the whole package, and stick around for the long haul. (And you will do well to reciprocate!)
Developing an Optimistic Mindset
If you have a long-established pattern of thinking you can’t succeed in marriage, you might find psychotherapy helpful. The important thing is to bring into consciousness any self-defeating attitude you might be believing. Next, question it. Then, take positive steps to transform it.
You can succeed in marriage — and in your ability to create the kind you’ve always wanted — a 21st century union that fulfills the two of you emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically and materially.
Dating cartoon available from Shutterstock