An open letter to the woman struggling with anxiety during engagement

My dear sister in Christ,

I want you to know that I see you, and that it is my hope, my prayer, that this letter will bring you some comfort and peace. I hope that, by sharing my experience, you will no longer feel so alone.

For the recently engaged, the world tells you to be happy, that your life is on track and you are quickly moving toward a status of success, that you are happy. People rejoice, acquaintances you have not spoken to in years will like your post (if you’ve chosen to share), and friends and family will necessarily tell you you are glowing, even if you can visibly see bags under your eyes from tossing and turning at night.

Because, if you’re like me and struggle with anxiety and depression, this beautiful chapter in your life is not quite like you dreamed it up to be (at least not initially). No one prepared me for the pit in my stomach I would sometimes feel, or the anxiety-ridden dreams and sleepless nights. Nor did they prepare me for the heartache and tears I’d experience when I thought about changing my last name (though I doodled my name with his last name for years prior to a proposal), or when I thought about the fact that in a new way I had to let go of my family. And all the rom-coms and Instagram posts in the world did not prepare me for the moments of overwhelming anxiety as I agonized over whether or not this monumental, life-changing decision was the right, God-willed decision. Entering into a covenant relationship with God and your spouse is not something to be taken lightly, and when you have enough trouble deciding what coffee you should order, it’s understandable that this monumental moment might be a little (OK, a lot) stressful.

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So what did I do? Naturally, I turned to Google in the late hours of the night when everyone else slept, and I Googled “anxiety when engaged.” Don’t do it. Every result warned me of red flags I must be missing, every story ended with a failed engagement. Naturally, this only made everything worse. I had prayed for this man, prayed about this decision, and had moments of undeniable, God-given peace. What was going on? But because everything was so negative and told me I was making a catastrophic mistake, I kept everything bottled up.

Finally, one night I confessed everything to my sister and my therapist. Both assured me that they were not surprised and reminded me of how carefully I had discerned this decision. “You overthink every single decision. Change always overwhelms you. Of course this is not going to be easy for you,” my sister said to me, as if I’d just told her the sky was blue.

And then … I told my wonderful fiancé, through tears, sniffles and many apologies. He laughed, gently, and then said, “I know.” Confused, I asked him what he meant, and like my sister, he acknowledged that he knew change was especially hard for me, that this was one of the most important decisions we would ever make, and given how seriously I take marriage and our faith, it was understandable that I would be overwhelmed. And then he reminded me that everything I was feeling was OK; it was OK to feel happy and sad and overwhelmed. Immediately, that God-given peace washed over me again. This man knows my heart, he sees me, and he is patient. His love directs my heart back to the Father. And it is good.

Once I acknowledged what I was feeling, once I told two of the people I love and trust the most, once I allowed myself to experience what I was experiencing instead of comparing it to someone else’s experience and society’s expectations, that peace returned. I am a month away from my wedding and there is only joy, excitement and peace.

So, if you are experiencing anxiety or grief over this change, I encourage you to turn to our Blessed Mother, who knows our hearts so well and desires to untangle the knots in our life. Entrust your emotions to her and know she will lead you to her Son. And then, I urge you to talk to one or two people you trust, including your fiancé. Odds are, this will not come as a surprise to them. Even the most beautiful, joyful, God-given changes can be simultaneously difficult. Give yourself the permission to feel the complexity of all the emotions God has blessed you with.

Be assured of my prayers for your heart, dear sister. May Christ’s peace be upon you during this final step of your discernment.



P.S.: Please do take your time to discern where your feelings of anxiousness are coming from. Of course, anxiety can indicate that something is wrong. But for those of who experience frequent anxiety, we know that it does not always indicate that.

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