If you view marriage in absolute terms -- for example, you have to be elated all the time with the person you've married to have a happy union -- you're feeding your fears of marriage, and potentially setting yourself up for failure. Instead, accept that there will be good times and bad. Just as in dating, your spouse will have qualities that you can't live without, and those that you'd readily banish. Marriage isn't about being perfect (or perfectly happy) all the time. It's about finding a partner who is willing and worthy -- and a partnership capable of weathering the storms life will present.
Forever is a long time, and it can fuel your fears of marriage. Though you should enter the union with the attitude that it is forever, remember that, in life, the only thing you're guaranteed is this moment. Evaluate your willingness to stay with your mate until death, but don't get caught up in overanalysis.
When people have fears, the issue often has little to do with the "surface fear" -- and everything to do with the associations it represents. In his book Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, Dr. Rick Hanson explains that our minds are wired to remember negative events more powerfully than positive ones. Perhaps you've seen many failed relationships, and they're stoking your fears. Acknowledge that it may be time to rewrite your mental script and focus on the positive. You may realize that you've also seen plenty of marriages that work. When you can understand the reasons behind your fear and consider a more positive association, your fear loses its power.
Getting married and having kids are highly individual and personal choices -- and both require extremely hard work. Abandon preconceived notions of marriage as something that should be done by a certain time in your life, and silence any "naggers"in your life who are pushing you toward something that just doesn't sit well with you at the moment. When and if you are ready to bond for life, you will know.
If you're in a relationship, be honest with your partner about your fears of commitment. When you develop the healthy habits of talking about your feelings openly, your commitment to one another will deepen -- and that's far more powerful a bond than a diamond ring or shared name can ever deliver.
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