I cried most days of my engagement because I was so scared I was making the wrong decision. Here’s how I came to understand why I had doubts, and what I should do about them.
Growing up LDS and being taught the importance of marriage meant I always dreamed of getting married to my “prince charming”. As cheesy as that sounds, I’m being completely serious – it was all I wanted. I dated a lot of guys who I thought could be “the one”, but something would always convince me otherwise. Stuff like, “He talks about himself too much” or “I’m just not that physically attracted to him.” By the time I was 22, I wondered if I’d ever get married. I questioned if I was good enough, and why every guy I dated either found something wrong with me or I had found something wrong with him. (I could write a whole other post about those thoughts, but I’ll save that for another time.)
Finally, I came to the conclusion that I needed to have patience. I knew that Heavenly Father would bless me if I could show Him that I had faith in His timing. This wasn’t easy for me at first; I wanted things MY way, but as soon as I properly understood that I needed complete faith in God’s plan for me and my marriage, I met my husband.
First, I’ll say that it won’t happen this way for everyone. I know that it happened this way for me because I needed that specific experience in ways that have strengthened my testimony forever.
When I first met Jake, it was the best feeling in the world. I had butterflies most of the time and couldn’t stop smiling. I was so excited that I finally met someone who I felt I genuinely wanted to spend forever with. I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I knew he made me happier than I’ve ever been.
The point of this article isn’t to tell you how amazing our love story is, or what a fairytale romance it was right up until our wedding day. It’s to tell you that dating and being engaged was extremely hard.
Doubts are something I struggled with constantly. I can’t count the number of times I cried because I was so scared of making such a big decision. I would often lie in bed trying to fall asleep while wondering if I needed to end things with my fiancé.
I couldn’t figure out why these negative thoughts were haunting me. Why would something that made me feel so good bring about thoughts that made me so afraid? Was Heavenly Father trying to tell me something? I can honestly say that throughout this entire 11-month period, I prayed and prayed that I would make the right decision. I knew I couldn’t do it without God, so I always made sure to pray that He would help guide me to make the right choice.
I know many people are struggling to know if their doubts are something that should make them question their relationship. And for all of you, I would say, yes, pay attention to those doubts. But I want to give you a few reasons why you shouldn’t let those doubts completely stop you from marrying someone who could potentially be wonderful for you and your life.
1. Doubts can be from God, to help you know you’re making a bad decision, or they can be from Satan, who wants to stop you doing wonderful things.
The Lord tells us things in our minds and our hearts, so when faced with doubts, try to assess the logic of them. With Jake, I knew deep down that there was no legitimate reason he wouldn’t be great for me. He and I are both imperfect, but we work together. Doubts I had before marrying him were a lot different from the ones I had when I was dating people that were terrible for me…!
2. When experiencing doubt, PRAY HARDER!
The more I prayed, read my scriptures, attended the temple, etc., the more in tune I was with the spirit, which helped me know when my doubts were something I didn’t need to worry about.
3. Doubts mean it’s time to ask yourself some questions.
Do they treat you like the son or daughter of God that you are? Do they make you want to be a better person? Do they do their best to keep the commandments and follow the counsel or our modern-day prophets? Would they be a good father or mother to your future children? These questions, which I would ask myself every day, are what made me realize how lucky I was to marry my now-husband. They are what made me realize that my doubts were silly.
I remember one night specifically where I told Jake some of the doubts I was having. It was never easy for him to hear but he always kindly listened. His response made me realize how great of a person he was, “I know with all of my heart that I want to marry you. Whatever you need to do to help you know if you’re making the right decision, I will support, because I love you and I want more than anything for you to be happy.” This is the kind of response you should be getting from someone who wants to spend the rest of their life with you.
For many people, doubt has led to realizing that a person was completely wrong for them – and thank goodness they paid close attention to those feelings. But for me, doubt was a way for me to fully come to understand why I should marry Jake. The process of questioning, consulting with the Lord, and assessing our relationship properly enabled me to know with confidence on our wedding day that I was making the right decision.
“I am not saying you shouldn’t be very careful about something as significant and serious as marriage. … Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. You can find an apartment. You can win over your mother-in-law. You can sell your harmonica and therein fund one more meal. It’s been done before. Don’t give in. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Jake and I are now happily married and he is my best friend. I truly believe that we have absolutely everything we need to have a successful marriage and family together. Except a couch. We’re still saving for one of those.