Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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I am engaged to a great girl. We love each other dearly and respect each other very much. Sometimes we get into little arguments which worry me. My parents never stopped fighting for a single day of my life. This made me very scared of my future marriage; I am worried that I will be unhappy in my marriage. I am worried that my marriage life will be like my parents' marriage. I really love my fiancé and she loves me as well. I am just worried about my future marriage day and night. Sometimes I can not even sleep from these thoughts. I even sometimes think that marriage is a bad idea and it's much better not to get married at all so that I can avoid the trouble later. The other problem is that both my parents always complain about marriage. My Mom says that marriage is a terrible idea and my Dad says that marriage is the worst mistake in his life. I'm stuck between both of them. I am confused. I do not know what to do.

Being aware of one's shortcomings and family dysfunctions are important factors in preparing for marriage, but you do not need to ruminate about these faults. Self-actualization is an important psychological process whereby you strive toward meeting your potential. Many valuable lessons must have been learned on this difficult road of your parents' stressed marriage. Always strive to be honest with yourself and face your motives when you and your future wife disagree. You may occasionally catch yourself subconsciously tempted to respond with comments and behaviors which you have witnessed throughout your life and accepted as "normal". Normalizing dysfunction is often the reason that it is repeated generation after generation. It is alright to disagree. It is actually normal. It is how the disagreement is manifested that causes pain and hurt which can sometimes tear a relationship apart and stifle spiritual marital maturity. Knowing some of the sour dynamics that may have tripped your parents into their various feuds ought to be glaring signals that caution you to stop before the cycle is repeated. Sadly, many of their struggles were probably due to poor communication skills, which may have sent negative messages fostering destructive patterns and misinterpretations. Now is your opportunity to begin a new, loving, and understanding pattern with someone you cherish. What your parents failed to do is a lesson in itself of reversing the potential of repeating their habitual ineffective communication pattern. Having said that, although your parents may have had a difficult marriage, staying together throughout these years despite their complaints is worth your respect, whether you understand that today or not. If you keep Christ always in your midst, are determined to make your marriage work, and are willing to place your spouse's needs and wishes above your own, you will have a successful marriage.

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