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Celebrate Intimate Weddings


with Relationship Speaker/Author/Coach...
Larry James

The Prewedding Blues
Sheryl Paul Nissinen, M.A., Guest Author

If you are reading this article, it is because you and your beloved have decided to marry. You wear the ring of engagement. The date has been set. You have been perusing magazines looking for the perfect gown that will transform you into a princess on your wedding day.

Your parents are delighted; your friends are thrilled; your fiancee is beaming. And while most of the time you share their enthusiasm -- after all, in a few months you will be marrying the man of your dreams -- there is this anxiety that seems to sneak up on you at the oddest times.

Perhaps it seeps in while you are falling asleep at night, as you are running over the lists of all the things you have to do. Perhaps it finds you in the early hours of the morning, unable to sleep one more wink because of this sense of urgency that races within. This is supposed to be the most exciting time of your life, and it is, but then why this anxiety?

What is happening inside you? You hesitate sharing your feelings with your friends and family for fear they will think that you are doubting your decision to marry. Yet you know in your heart that every part of you wants to marry this man... so what is it?

It is the prewedding blues. The prewedding blues is a topic that you will not find discussed in typical bridal circles. No one wants to admit that they are feeling sad and afraid, yet nearly every bride feels the prewedding blues at some point during her engagement.

"I just read your article online about "The Prewedding Blues." I just wanted to say thank you. I'm less then two weeks away from my wedding and for the past few weeks, I've been confused as to why I'm so sad! Not just stressed, but sad. I read your article and literally breathed a sigh of relief knowing that is normal and expected. It makes sense what im going through now. Thank you for your insight and your article. I wish more people would talk about it as candidly as you have. - Kelly L.

Most try to talk themselves out of it, telling themselves over and over again that there is absolutely nothing to fear. Yet the anxiety will not go away. A typical response to this anxiety is to get busier than ever, creating more lists of things to do so as not to have to feel this uncomfortable emotion.

Why? Because until now, there have been no words that would help a bride understand what is happening inside, no context in which to place the very normal and expected feelings of fear, anxiety, confusion, and sadness that live alongside the joy and bliss within the engaged woman.

Why would a bride feel fear and sadness in the months preceding her most cherished day? In order to answer this question, we must look at the wedding as a rite of passage.

We have all heard the term rite of passage, usually in reference to adolescence, the birth of child, midlife, and old age. Simply, a rite of passage is a major turning point in life where we experience a change in identity. It is a time of transition where the old way of life ceases to fit and the new life has not yet taken hold.

In traditional cultures, the initiate is guided on the arms of the village elders through an elaborate series of ancient rituals and ceremonies for the purpose of thoroughly shedding the ties to the current identity. They understand that the old identity must completely cease to exist in order to allow space for the new identity to arise.

As the current identity is shed, the initiate experiences sadness and fear, for how can we let go of something that has been with us our entire lives without feeling grief, and how can we avoid feeling afraid when we do not know what the new life holds?

A change of identity involves loss; and loss always, no matter how beautiful and bountiful the gains, involves grief.

How does all of this apply to the bride and her wedding? The moment you become engaged, your rite of passage begins. From this point on, you begin to cut your ties to your identity as single woman so you can slowly prepare for your transformation into wife.

What does it mean to "cut ties" to something as intangible as an identity? It means spending some time thinking about the elements that have come together to form your identity as a single person. It means realizing that after you marry your relationships to your girlfriends, sisters, mother, and father will be altered and allowing yourself to grieve these changes and separations. It means acknowledging that being single means being free, and that when you marry you will sacrifice a significant portion of this freedom.

In fact, in traditional cultures, the members consider all rites of passage as a sacrifice and a gift, a separating and a joining, a death and a rebirth. So as much as the wedding is a time of celebration, happiness, and new beginnings, it is also a time of saying goodbye to an entire identity and grieving the losses.

I have worked with many brides who, once they are given the words and context in which to understand their inner world, breathe a great sigh of relief.

There are countless guidebooks that assist the bride with the practical end of her wedding. But there is scant information that helps the bride navigate through the challenging emotional road that begins at the proposal and continues into the first months of marriage.

If you find yourself crumbling into a heap of tears at the end of the day, or lashing out in anger at those closest to you, take heart: you are experiencing the prewedding blues. It is normal, expected, even necessary.

The more you can allow yourself to express the difficult emotions like grief, anger, and fear, the more you are letting go of your identity as a single woman. And the more you let go, the more space you will have inside to arrive at your wedding day serene, self-aware, and prepared to greet your beloved at the altar, ready to become joined together as wife and husband... for as long as you both shall live.

•    •    •

Copyright © - Sheryl Paul Nissinen, M.A. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. - Sheryl Paul Nissinen, a counselor and writer, holds a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and a Bachelor's Degree in Feminine Culture. Adapted from the book, "The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched."

  If you would like to talk one-on-one with Larry James about relationship issues related to this article, you are invited to arrange for a private coaching session by telephone. Go to Personal Relationship Coaching for specific details.

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