Do you have fears about getting married? Are you unsure as to where your fears of marriage are stemming from? To help understand why some people have fears about marriage and what someone can do to overcome their fear of marriage, I have interviewed therapist Dr. Brian Canfield.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I earned my doctorate in counseling from Texas A&M University in Commerce in 1983. I’ve been in clinical practice for 28 years and currently teach at a small college in south Arkansas. I maintain a community-based private practice as a psychologist and as a counselor and marriage and family therapist ‘” my area of specialization is marriage counseling. I’m a past president of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors and a past president of the American Counseling Association. I’m married to a wonderful woman, Irene, and am the father of five children.”
Why do some people fear getting married?
“When you look at the statistics, I think having some apprehension about marriage is appropriate. About 40% of marriages end in divorce and many couples that don’t divorce often encounter trying and disappointing periods in their marriage. Many people have lived through the divorce of their parents or perhaps were in a previous marriage that ended in divorce. However, fear aside, the institution of marriage remains very popular and the vast majority of people will choose to marry at some point in life.”
What type of impact can a person’s fear of getting married have a relationship?
“Timing plays a big role in most people marrying ‘” two people being at a compatible point in life and choosing to marry. Common reasons include “love,” a desire to raise a family, perceived security and stability, and companionship. An irrational fear of marriage could cause a person to miss an opportunity to marry a person with whom they might otherwise be well suited. As I tell my students and clients, successful marriage is much more about “commitment” rather than a subjective feeling of “love” ‘” an emotion, which typically ebbs and flows over the course of a marriage.”
What can a person do to overcome their fear of marriage?
“First, I would recommend taking a close look at the basis of one’s fear. Emotions are important and as a species, humans are “hard wired” with an array of feelings for survival value. One should pay close attention to feelings, but go beyond that and examine the basis for a particular feeling in the real world. “Am I fearful of marriage because there is a reason or reasons for concern, or is my fear general and non-specific?” Talking out one’s fears with an impartial and objective person, such as a counselor, might be an appropriate course of action. Family and friends are another resource, but often they have a vested interest in the outcome of one’s decision to marry and may find it hard to be both objective and supportive.”
What last advice do you have for someone who fears marriage?
“Marriage is a cornerstone of society with a multitude of benefits ‘” it provides a social structure for both adult companionship and raising children, to name just a few of the potential benefits. However, each marriage is unique and a couple should customize their marriage to fit their collective needs. Also, marriage is elective ‘” one need not marry to have a satisfying life and many people choose to remain single for a variety of reasons.”
“However, if marriage is something a person desires, then I would encourage that person to talk with their future spouse and address areas of concern which may be the basis of fear. Not only will this help a person in overcoming their current fear, but also it provides a good foundation for future problem solving in the marriage. The initial problem of “fear of marriage” is only a start ‘” the nature of marriage requires that a couple employ problem-solving skills throughout life. Is marriage worth the risk, worth the effort? For most people the answer remains a resounding “yes.””
Thank you Dr. Canfield for doing the interview on how someone can overcome his or her fear of marriage. For more information on Dr. Canfield or his work you can check out his website on www.canfieldcounseling.com.
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