Why Therapy Should Be On Your To-Do List Before Getting Married
Okay, so I know that the word ‘therapy’ has a lot of different connotations - some good, some bad, all personal. There are a million and one reasons why people choose to see a therapist in life; past problems, current problems, other people’s problems, traumas, fears, worries, failures, successes, everything. Therapists help with depression, anxiety, addictions, eating disorders, mental health problems, physical health problems, personal issues and relationship issues. Mostly, a therapist sees someone because of a life change. Whether this change has been sudden, or has slowly made you realise that in actual fact something is wrong. Changes open our eyes to things that we might not have realised were an issue previously.
Usually the main sign that you need to see a therapist is when something is causing you a lot of anxiety. You know, the sick feeling you get in your stomach, more like a churning washing machine than butterflies; but it’s a similar effect. This is your body’s way of letting you know that your mind doesn’t feel comfortable with what’s happening. So, let’s say that you’ve had an argument with your fiancé, perhaps when you’ve been planning your wedding, and afterwards you feel sick and anxious. This is just your mind’s way of letting you know, “hey, I don’t like this”. If your mind didn’t prompt your body to feel like this, then we would probably go round falling out with everyone and not realising the consequences.
If, following your engagement or in the run-up to your wedding, you start to feel regularly anxious then you need to stop ignoring and think - what is my mind trying to tell me? It could be a number of things, and the examples I could think of off the top of my head would be by no means a definitive list. But whatever it is, if you are feeling sick due to anxiety then you need to have a good think about what might be bothering you. Is it because you hate attention so the thought of walking down the aisle scares the bejeebers out of you? Is it because you and your other half have been arguing a lot and so you’re wondering whether getting married is actually the best thing to do? Is it because your parents are having a hard time letting you go and you’re feeling guilty about starting your own family?
None of this stuff is going to go away on its own unfortunately. If you feel anxious about having all eyes fixed on you on your wedding day, then you’re going to feel anxious on the day itself if you don’t sort it out. That’s just how it is. As for arguments with your fiancé, or struggling with your new identity away from your family - marriage isn’t a fix for anything. I mean it’s actually quite the opposite. When your wedding is a distant memory, normal life will resume and any problems you had before will simply be exacerbated. Marriage doesn’t mean that your husband / wife will magically stop doing all of things that annoy you. It also doesn’t mean that your parents will miraculously get over their own hang-ups about you leaving; instead it will probably become worse.
In this world of Brexit, Trump and Honey G it is essential that we maintain some level of hope. It’s essential to our survival. But we cannot forget about realism in order to make room for hope. Just hoping that everything will get better once you’ve signed the register and changed your name actually distracts us from doing the things that could make everything better. (For the record, a little hope is fine; just not hope without action).
This is where therapy comes into things. Yes, I know it seems like such a big and scary word but I promise you it’s nothing to be freaked out about. I mean towards the end of 2016, therapy has seemed like the new Pilates - everyone’s giving it a go! And rightly so. Spending money on making sure that your mental health is A-Okay is definitely a better investment than a new pair of shoes. And if we build exercise into our schedules to ensure we maintain our physical health, then surely we can find the time to look after our mental health as well.
Everybody in the world has some issue or another. I know people who will quite happily tell you about theirs the first time you meet them, and I know others who would rather stick their head in the sand than admit that actually they’re insecure. Neither is right or wrong, and that’s not really the point. The point is that everyone actually has something going on in their lives that means therapy could be a massive help to them.
How many people do you know that went out and bought a mindfulness colouring book when they were a huge craze earlier this year? That’s not because it was just the trendy thing to do, it’s because actually they wanted help to deal with something they were going through; however big or small. I have 3 of said colouring books. Did they help to distract me when I felt anxious and stressed? Absolutely! Did they fix any of my problems. No, it’s a colouring book. And to fix our problems was never the purpose of these books - pure distraction from feeling like our heads were going to explode was. But I don’t actually think many of us realised this. I think we saw something that promised it would help us to feel better and we grabbed onto it because IT PROMISED IT WOULD HELP US TO FEEL BETTER.
The ironic thing is that everyone who went out to buy a colouring book because they hoped it would fix all their problems and make them happy again, are also the people who won’t consider going to speak to an actual person with a brain and advice to boot about this stuff. Don’t think I’m bashing these books, it’s simply a way to illustrate that a lot of the time we treat the symptoms and not the cause of our worries. As long as something takes away the warning signs our body is giving out to us, however temporarily, we’re sold. But what about something that takes away these uncomfortable feelings permanently? That’s therapy, my friend.
And I think the idea of being emotionally vulnerable to someone who we don’t know scares a lot of us. We’re british for god’s sake - it goes against everything we, and our stiff upper lips, stand for. But I can promise you, that actually going to someone, and being honest about how you are feeling is such a relief. You can breathe again and you can start to see that actually everything isn’t as bad as it seems. Everything is going to be okay. And week by week you are not only going to be able to sort out all the anxieties you have been facing, you’re also going to feel like a goddamn warrior. And the next time something makes you anxious you’re going to have learnt some genuine coping mechanisms to be able to handle it, like the gladiator you are. Everything you say is confidential, and I can assure you that the therapist is not going to be shocked by anything that you say. These people really have heard it all.
So if you’re feeling anxious about walking down the aisle with everyone staring at you, you can keep feeling like that right up until the moment you do it, or you can go and have a couple of therapy sessions and strut your way down that catwalk to the man stood there waiting to spend the rest of his life with you. If you’re worrying about whether marriage is really the right thing for you and your partner when you can’t even seem to have a nice conversation then make an appointment with someone who can fix this communication issue. If your partner won’t go with you, then respect this but at least go yourself and sort your own head out. Even talking to someone who understands might go a long way to making you feel better. Lastly, family therapy might be a great idea if your family doesn’t want to let go of you. They’re bound to agree to going because at the end of the day they’re not going to want to risk not having a relationship with you in the future because of the tension between you all currently. Go together, hear things from their perspective and work out some ways that going forward you’re all happy to adhere to.
Weddings are one of the happiest occasions of your life, but they are also a breeding ground for family issues. Working out your seating plan is the biggest indicator of this if you know not to sit two people next to each other. Don’t let your own problems and anxieties play a part in this too. You’ve worked hard to prepare and plan this amazing day and you deserve to enjoy it without worrying that you don’t look great, or that you’re abandoning your family.
Let’s actually go one step further and all vow to make 2017 the year we rack up the hours concentrating on our mental health, just as much as we rack up the hours in the gym / watching Netflix...