1. I won’t look the way I look now in 30 years. Or even 20. Or even 10. And neither will my future husband. The person you marry today won’t be the person you’re married to years down the line – physically or mentally or emotionally. Marriage is a gamble. You’re gambling that your love for the person you marry will grow and adapt as your partner grows and adapts. It’s up to you how to handle the change, but it’s still scary nonetheless.
2. I only want to do this once. I understand that divorce is part of reality, and that plenty of people have no other choice, and that sometimes, it’s a necessary part of life. But I want to do everything I can to avoid any possibility of that. I want to be with one person for my whole life. But there’s no guarantee. You can do everything in your power to work on your marriage and make sure it lasts, but there’s no Magic 8 ball that can tell you whether or not your marriage will make it. You just have to take a leap of faith.
3. I can see how easy it can be to get caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding. Weddings are beautiful and happy and loving occasions. I love going to them and I love how they leave you feeling hopeful – like there’s still lots of joy out in the world. But I can see how they can be dangerous. How you can be so caught up in the idea of a perfect wedding and of having the perfect dress and pictures and venue and everything else. I’m sure it can be a slippery slope in terms of becoming obsessed and letting the wedding consume you. I don’t want to get caught up in all of that and forget why I’m doing it in the first place – to celebrate my lifelong commitment to someone else.
4. You have to be selfless. And that’s really, really hard. It’s easy to say the words and remind yourself of them all the time: “Be selfless. Put the other person first. Make it a team effort, not an individual effort.” But actually putting those words into action is the hard part. I understand the concept that marriage means sacrifice. But it scares me to know there are things I’m going to have to do that I won’t want to do, in order to make my marriage work. I know that may mean moving to a new place, or putting his career in front of my own sometimes. Because he’s going to have to do the same for me. I realize that if I’m going to expect him to make adjustments to put me first, I will have to do the same. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
5. You will, at times, have to carry a burden that is not your own. And I worry about how I’ll handle that. Marriage is always about give and take. It’s about balance and sharing the challenges and working together. Sometimes one person is weak and the other person will have to be the one to carry all the strain, and vice versa. I know that when I’m going through something, my future husband will be there to help me carry the load. And I know that when he’s under stress, I will want to do everything I can to help him. I just sometimes worry that my strength will be inadequate.
6. I’m already having trouble figuring out my own career, and my own life. And I know that marriage means handling all that, as well as the life of someone else. Not to mention kids, if you’re eventually going to have them. Sometimes I feel so confused and uncertain about who I am and what I’m doing, that I feel completely overwhelmed and paralyzed. The idea of handling all that while trying to build a new life with someone else is a lot to think about.
7. It’s going to be a challenge every single day. I want it so badly to work, and I know that in the really tough moments, I’m going to have to fight through it instead of giving up. I’ll have to admit when I’m wrong, and hold my ground when I truly believe I’m right. I have to find the right balance of being strong and holding my own, while simultaneously putting another person first and doing everything I can to support them. You can read as many books as you want, but there’s no specific answer key for your marriage. Everybody’s is different. I know the only way to learn how to make it work is just to do it. Ergo, I am scared shitless.
8. I treasure my independence. And I know you can still be independent when you get married. But it’s a very fine and difficult balance to keep, and you have to work at it every day. I think some of the strongest marriages are the ones where both people maintain their independence while still working on a strong partnership, but I worry about how difficult it will be to keep my own life while forming a new one with someone else.
9. I’ve seen what it takes to have a good marriage. I’ve been lucky enough to have an incredible example of a strong marriage from my parents, but it still looks harder than anything else I could imagine. Their relationship is so solid and strong and incredible. But I’ve seen them both make some really, really tough sacrifices for each other in order to get it that way. They had to make a lot of decisions that weren’t easy. They were no-brainers of course, but that doesn’t mean they were easy.
10. I’ve also seen some really rough marriages. Some from people I’m related to. Some from my friends’ parents. And, of course, the celebrity marriages that are reported on incessantly, that we can’t seem to stop reading about. I’ve seen how a marriage can destroy a person, and take everything out of them. I’ve watched people turn miserable and hopeless. I’ve seen people become shells of themselves. You always think “that won’t be me” but it’s still hard knowing that it’s a possibility and it happens to real people.
11. I want my marriage to be the main priority in my life someday, but I don’t want it to be my life. There are so many things I want to be besides a wife, and I know that I’m going to have to work very hard to make sure those things happen. I know that the only way to make a marriage work is to make sure I don’t get distracted by petty things – money and success and my home and my social status and everything all need to take a backseat to my partner. But it’s also important to me to make sure that in addition to being a wife, I’m a lot of other things: a daughter, a sister, maybe a mom, a friend, a coworker, maybe a boss, a role model, and a lot of other things that contribute to my sense of self.
12. Getting comfortable with someone can be wonderful, but also very, very scary. They know everything about you. The passion is still there, but it doesn’t feel like this all-consuming, head-over-heels, can-barely-breathe-or-think kind of love. It’s more of a solid, dependable, deep, genuine kind of love. Which I know I want. But still, it’s scary to know that once you get married, you will never experience that falling-in-love-with-someone-new thing ever again.
13. It’s not my story anymore. It’s our story. Which, in many ways, is exactly what I want. But after twenty-something years of telling my story, it’s an intimidating thought to know that someone else is going to be a part of it for the rest of my life.
14. I don’t want to screw it up. And when it comes to marriage, there is an abundance of ways you can screw it up.
15. I have to trust someone. I have to count on someone. And they have to count on me. I have to love them at their worst and they have to love me at my worst. We have to stick by each other when things are ugly instead of romantic. We have to trust that we can rely on one another through anything. Which is at once everything I want and simultaneously the scariest thing in the world.