Dear Carolyn: I became engaged two months ago and was at first extremely excited. He and I want the same things in life, have the same morals and priorities, and I just love being with him.
We’ve had our issues stemming from mistakes he’s made in his past that we’ve worked through together. After a very stressful week that ended with a fight (he was taking his frustrations out on me, and in front of my mother), I find myself lingering on those past mistakes and am terrified by the word “forever.” When I’m alone I have doubts and can’t stop thinking, “Oh God what am I doing?” But when I’m with him I think, “How can I not marry this wonderful man?“
How much of this doubt is normal and when can I settle on a decision (to marry/not to marry) that I can be sure about?
What were these mistakes, how often does he take his frustrations out on you, and, this will sound odd, how charismatic is he? The fact that you want out when you’re alone and want him when you’re with him suggests your brain is telling you no and your emotions are telling you yes. That says you need to ask yourself whether he’s manipulative, you’re impulsive/impressionable, or both. Is he at his best when you’re just about to leave?
I could be way off, but if I am, then you lose nothing by weighing the possibility that you’re repelled by the reality but sucked in by the charm.
How about couples counseling together? Always a good investment.
Or a good premarital workshop, which can be as or more productive than counseling, though each is only as good as the open-mindedness and work ethic you bring to it.