Fear of marriage due to divorce

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 3:17 p.m.
Q: I am a 34-year-old woman and have not felt the urge to settle down yet. Everyone is always surprised to hear that I am not married and I don't feel the need to get married any time soon. I think marriage is overrated because, after 28 years of marriage, my parents divorced. How can I make people stop bothering me?
A: I think your stance on marriage has more to do with your parents' divorce than you not feeling compelled to settle down.
People who live through their parents' divorce find it difficult to get married out of fear that they will go through the same problems and ultimately divorce. Having lived through a divorce, they do not want to put any children through the mental anguish that they went through.
I recommend two things. First, explore the depths of your emotions toward marriage to make sure that what you feel is not a result of some trailing bitterness that you still harbor toward your parents.
This will be a fundamental move because what most people do not realize is that bitter feelings penetrate all areas of our lives, not just the object to which they are directed.
Harboring bitterness or anger can show up in your body through high blood pressure, headaches and insomnia, among other things. For your physical health, and your emotional health, you should figure out where your ideas are coming from.
Second, realize that you cannot run away from your past. When I was a child, I did not have the most loving and nurturing home environment. I would literally bury myself in school and activities in an effort to stay away.
As a matter of fact, I worked doubly hard to make sure I got a full scholarship to the University of Florida so that I could leave and never return. But, what I found out is that no matter how hard you try, your past does not go away and it will linger with you until you make peace with it.
So it is, with you. I suspect that you like your job so much because it allows you to get away from the things that remind you of your painful past. But, until you can look your past in the face and not feel a need to run from it, you will need to make peace with it.
Your attitude toward marriage may very well be the result of some feelings that you have internalized due to your parents' divorce. But, if on the flip side of the coin, you can honestly say that you don't have any negative feelings about your parents' divorce, your course of action is actually very simple.
No one can make you do anything that you do not want to do, and no one should ever compel you to make a life-altering decision that you do not agree with. You should simply talk with your parents about how they are making you feel.
Though parents do not always understand why their children do the things they do, they can at least agree that they love you enough to want you to be happy.
I am not saying that those in your life will stop trying to convince you of the need to marry, but you must make a firm decision and stick with it.
Marriage is certainly not just the next level of boyfriend and girlfriend. Marriage is as far from ''boyfriend and girlfriend'' as college is from the 13th grade. So, make your choices wisely and weigh them separately.
Marriage is a beautiful thing but, like anything, it takes maintenance and care. It is certainly nothing to look down upon, and it should definitely be taken seriously.
I at least applaud that you have recognized what you do not want to do before a husband and children are made to recognize it.
Got a relationship question? E-mail NonaCJones@yahoo.com. Jones is a motivational speaker in the North Central Florida area. Visit www.WTSWLG.Bravehost.com for more information.

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