June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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I’m Newly Married and Having Doubts About My Husband

Dear Dr. Chani,

I am newly married, within my first few months of marriage, and I am feeling very unsettled. More often than I would like to admit, I wonder what my life would have been like had I married someone else. I have no one to talk to about this nagging feeling, because I am too embarrassed to confide in anyone. I wish I could get over this hump and feel better about my husband.

When I was engaged, everything seemed so right and so exciting. My husband was so good to me and we shared a lot of the same values and goals. I felt ready to get married and he seemed like a great guy so I did not hesitate to get engaged.

But now that we are married, I feel that my husband is just a typical guy. There is nothing particularly wrong with him. I just feel like I could have gotten someone better. I am wondering if because I was influenced by the society around me, I rushed into marriage too quickly. Maybe I should have been more selective and given myself a chance to find someone with an even better personality and someone who is more driven to succeed.

Now that I am married, I kind of feel trapped. I never dreamed that I would feel this way about my husband. What can I do to get over this feeling?

Thanks so much for your help!

Sincerely,
Worried Wife

Dear Worried Wife,

I can understand the shock you felt when you first began to have doubts about the person you chose to marry. It is quite unsettling to wake up after you are married and question your decision. Once feelings of doubt about your husband creep into your mind, you may find yourself worrying even more about the fact that you are worrying. This can lead to a disturbing cycle that leaves you feeling overwhelmed.

It can be helpful to take a step back and gain a wider perspective. It might sound surprising, but the feeling that you describe is not uncommon. Many married people wonder what would have happened had they chosen to marry someone else. This can happen at any stage in their marriage—even more so at the beginning, when you are still building the foundation of your relationship.

Why is it so common for people to second-guess whom they chose to marry within the first year or two of marriage? One reason may be because of the contrast between dating and marriage. When you are dating there are options and possibilities. You are in a stage where you can end a relationship if you feel a person is not right for you. Yet, after marriage, you can no longer dream of whom you will marry. You have made an important and lasting commitment to share your life and build a future together with a specific person. It can be difficult to adjust to this new reality of having an obligation to one person.

You might doubt your decision even more if you have a general tendency to second-guess yourself. Reflect on your personality and think, “When I shop do I tend to have buyer’s remorse? When I buy an item do I wonder if I should have bought something else or if I paid the right price?” If so, then put your current feelings into perspective. They match your general pattern of evaluating and questioning your actions. This is a major decision. It makes sense that you would second-guess it on some level.

Doubting your decision can feel even more shocking if you did not have any relationship issues between you and your husband during the process of dating and engagement. Ironically, people who are euphoric during engagement and can never imagine having any conflicts with their spouse are often the ones who face the biggest adjustment during the beginning of marriage. It is difficult to go from never imagining any issues with your spouse, to discovering that you have differences and disagreements about things big and small.

Keep in mind that even if you dated your husband for a while, your experience of one another prior to marriage cannot compare to how well you get to know each other when you are living together. Now that you are married, it is normal to notice things about your spouse that disappoint you or annoy you. It makes sense to feel disillusioned when you see things about your spouse that bother you. In addition, research on couples shows that when people transition, it changes their relationship. This includes the change from being engaged to being married—even if they knew each other for a long period of time. In fact, a couple goes through a period of transition at every significant shift in the relationship, such as from engagement to marriage, and from marriage to having a baby.

Another factor that can contribute to your doubts are the models of marriage that you have in your life. Knowing family members or friends who are divorced or who express negativity about their spouse can promote your concerns about your decision to marry your spouse. These social influences can shape the way you think.

In addition to the reasons described above, you may have specific concerns about your husband that only arose after you were married. It is important to ask yourself what else may be contributing to your doubt. Allow yourself to be in touch with issues that are bothering you and deal with them. If you have a major concern about your husband or if you feel that there is a red flag in your relationship, seek a professional who can guide you.

Yet, based on your description, I get the impression that you do not have specific concerns. You mentioned that your husband “is just a typical guy,” and there is “nothing wrong with him.” Your husband seems to be a fine person. It sounds like you made a choice to marry him because you recognized that he had many of the qualities you needed in a life partner. Now you are experiencing general doubts.

So what mindset and behaviors can help you overcome your feelings of doubt?

Ultimately, the secret to a happy marriage is more about who you are than whom you marry. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter whom you marry. It is important to choose someone with fine character traits, similar values, whom you can get along with, and will appreciate you. At the same time, the quality of your marriage is something that you create over time based on your own attitude and actions.

You can choose to have a great marriage. Think about your marriage as an empty canvas and yourself as the artist with a colorful palette. You can create a captivating and beautiful painting using the raw materials that you have. If you can avoid comparing your husband to other people and focus on his positive traits, you will likely recognize that you have “a lot to work with.”

Every day, try to identify aspects to appreciate about your husband. Many people tend to take the positive actions of their spouse for granted and only express negative feedback and criticism. Instead, compliment your husband and point out to him what you appreciate about him. Express gratitude. The more you aim to give your husband compliments and positive feedback, the more you will train your brain to look positively at your husband and appreciate the wonderful qualities that he has.

Also, try to focus on the big picture. Do not measure your marriage each moment. Life is not perfect. It is normal to have ups and downs in life. So too, it is normal to have highs and lows in your marital relationship. Rather than evaluating your marriage all the time, accept things that are not perfect and reflect on the overall quality of your relationship over long periods of time.

Right now you are wondering if your husband is “the best” person you could have married. Sometimes, “the best” is the enemy of “good enough.” When we choose to ponder about what would be best, we are unable to appreciate that what we have can be good enough. This mindset pushes away our potential for happiness. Instead, allow yourself to find happiness by focusing on your husband’s positive qualities and appreciating the positive experiences you share.

Wishing you much success,

Chani

New—Get clarity about dating. Free Dating Clarity E-course. Sign up at chanimaybruch.com.


Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist who has specialized in helping people build and enhance their relationships for over two decades. If you would like to improve your relationship with yourself, your loved ones, or others in your life, reach out to her at chanimaybruch.com.

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