By Jemi Ekunkunbor
It is the dream of every girl to be married. The wedding day is every girl’s ultimate dream come true. Many single girls already have their big day pictured out; something akin to a fairy tale, a Disney kind of thing: to walk down the aisle in the arms of her prince charming, adorning the most beautiful dress sculpt to her body shape, with picture perfect make up, escorted by a glamorous wedding train; bridesmaids and groomsmen alike. This is the dream, a perfect wedding: then, the couple can live happily ever after. But as we know, perfection is not a common thing with man. Even where there is money to execute some of these things, one cannot but worry whether there won’t be hitches in the process. It is this fear of the unknown that causes worry and anxiety for the couple especially, the bride on whose soft shoulders most of the planning rests.
Whether it is a marriage conducted 30 years ago or one done yesterday, all couples experience one form of anxiety or the other.
Marriage is a major commitment both emotionally and financially. Taking decisions on some of the things to do, is enough stress for anyone. Some anxiety manifests itself even on the wedding day. But research shows that women seem to be taking the brunt in jitters and panic attacks. Although it is natural to experience a bit of anxiety, too much of it will not make you enjoy the wedding.
Over two decades ago as an undergraduate, I was mandated by an older cousin to stand in for her as chief bride’s maid at her friend’s wedding. She had found out too late that she won’t be around for the wedding date. It was a low budget wedding, scheduled for one of the big churches in Edo State at the time. Considering where it was taking place, I had gone to get the perfect outfit befitting of a chief bridesmaid. If I knew what I knew afterwards, I wouldn’t have bothered. Everything about the wedding smelt cheap, almost everything was hired and that included the wedding gown! It was enough to give a bride a heart attack. But the real anxiety came for the bride when two hours after the scheduled time, the groom was nowhere to be found. It was pre GSM days. There was no means to track the groom. The bride, almost crippled by worry, had concluded that a close friend of the groom must have advised him not to come. In her anger and worry, she had voiced what she would do to that man if her fiancé does not show up. Guests were already leaving when almost at 1pm, the groom drove in. As we learnt later, because of their low budget, he did not delegate duties to people. He had left home early that wedding day to go book for drinks. It was environmental sanitation day. Unfortunately for him, he was arrested by sanitation officials. It took a while to explain to them that it was his wedding day.
Pray, if you were in this bride’s shoes, won’t you be nervous, anxious and worried sick?
Aijay Ndu was a bride 17 years ago. According to her, “My greatest worry was whether my fiance at the time may change his mind and not turn up. Suddenly, I was not sure of myself anymore. I began to worry whether I am not doing the wrong thing by marrying him. You have all kinds of worries. I also feared that we may run out of cash to do all the things that we needed to do”.
For Annie Holloway, her anxiety was of a different dimension. Her fiancee according to her was someone who always looked up to others to meet his needs and he had the habit of name dropping who and who had promised to do xyx for him.
“So as the wedding day approached, it became obvious to me that he didn’t really have anything to plan around. All his plans were based on expected gifts from people. I became really worried that we would live married life, based on what he would beg from people”.
Nkechi Ajibade, could have testified that her wedding plans were hitch free, until a week before the wedding when she had to take her wedding gown to church for inspection according to the dictates of her church denomination. Her elegant wedding dress with plunging neckline, failed the test! “With less than a week to go and with less than N25,000 left in my account, I had no idea where I was going to get another gown. I found myself crying and begging one designer to accept what I had and fix me another dress to wear. That experience totally distabilized me”.
Anxiety according Dr. Gbonju Abiri, Senior Registrar, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, “is a normal emotion occurring in everyone at some point in time”.
However, she says it is considered as a disorder “when the signs and symptoms felt are out of proportion to the danger or threat ahead or when the symptoms persist even after the threat has disappeared”.
She listed these signs as some symptoms of wedding anxiety. “Butterflies in your tummy, goose bumps on your skin, palpitations in your heart, increasing deep breaths, feeling faint, and racing thoughts through your mind”
These symptoms according to her could stem from uncertainty about your choice of a partner, insufficient funds to execute the wedding, negative vibes from parents and/or siblings who may not give consent and unsettled ex(es) or other love relationships yet to be severed. Other causes she added include, wedding plans and its stress, the uncertainty of marriage, especially from previous experience of others, cheating, abusive or absent spouse.
With the jitters taking hold of the bride, she must find ways to help herself overcome these anxieties. And if your anxiety stems from any of the causes listed above, here is the how as recommended by Dr. Gbonju Abiri.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ANXIETY
● First, identify the source of anxiety. This way, you are already half way through getting it solved.
● If you are uncertain about the choice of your partner, you may want to double check with yourself and with others who know him quite well. Be honest with yourself, Marriage is for a lifetime or at least, so we hope.
● In the case of insufficient funds, make a budget, and stick by it. Cut your coat according to your dress. Remember that life exists after an elaborate wedding especially if you go borrowing.
● If it is non-consenting parents, find out why they are bent on refusing you to marry your choice.
● Unsettled ex(es) and love affairs can cause a lot of anxiety, especially if they don’t want to face the reality that you have moved on, or if you are still testing the waters with them. Make up your mind on what you want. You may need to involve your spouse, letting them know what exactly is going on, so that if your ex threatens blackmail, the worst is that they’d tell your spouse who already knows anyway.
● Wedding plans and the stress. A wedding is a big event and yes it’s a big deal. It also comes with its attendant stress that you can actually positively assess and face. You can make it fun if you make a list, assign tasks to take the stress off yourself and get a lot of rest in between tasks. Inquire about how others have managed the anxiety associated with the wedding. Be positive about the wedding and remind yourself, ‘It will go well’.
● The uncertainty of marriage as well the experience of others may actually weigh you down, especially if you have been listening to the negative vibes from failed marriages or people who have troubles with their marriages. While marriage, like life, is not a bed of roses, quite a number of people have marriages that are enjoyed and have stood the test of time, because the partners have mutual goals, understand each other and settle discord when it occurs amicably. Talk with such people.
● Be reasonable with yourself. If there are danger signs you already spot which are causing you anxiety, and you can’t seem to have them solved, such as an abusive spouse, you may want to have a rethink about the union. Follow your heart, but think with your head.
● Talk to someone you love, respect and whose opinion you value about your fears. Talking about the problem may actually help ease your anxiety.
● Trust in God. If you do believe in God, then you can let him have all your worries. Remember what they say, why worry, when you can pray.