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Conquer Your Fear of Marriage

written by: Elise M. • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/15/2011

Learn the most effective treatments to conquer your fear of marriage and how to determine which is most effective for you.

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    The key to overcoming your fear of marriage is to thoroughly confront this fear and what has caused it. It is only natural that we want to avoid the things we fear, but avoidance does not treat or cure the problem itself.. it only prolongs our anxiety surrounding it. Whether you choose to seek help from a mental health professional or believe you can do this on your own is your choice.

    Seeking help from a mental health professional does not make you crazy or mean that you are ill. We all need someone to talk to at times and mental health professionals are trained to provide that service in a confidential manner so that you can be completely open and honest with them without repercussions or judgement being passed.

    There are three main orientations in psychology that are used to treat fear of marriage. These are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy.

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    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is based on the theory that our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviors. This orientation of psychology believes that it is our thoughts that can cause our emotions or behaviors to form in the manner they do. CBT treatment involves precise examinations of your thoughts, the resultant emotions that occur from them, and the actions you took in dealing with each. This is done using worksheets called thought records. Cognitive Behavioral therapists will challenge you to examine the worst possible outcomes from the situations that you fear and to evaluate how likely they are to occur. In the case of marriage phobia, CBT will focus on the actual fearful thoughts that are going through your mind, how realistic they are, and how they are impacting your emotions and behaviors.

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    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of CBT. Instead of solely focusing on thought patterns, it integrates acceptance of ourselves and others with a commitment to engage in responsible behaviors. ACT first teaches an individual to accurately perceive themselves, their thoughts, their memories, and the world around them. In other words, it teaches an individual to honestly evaluate each domain instead of how they may appear to be which may be difficult. Once the individual is able to accurately see themselves and others without bias, ACT teaches an individual to accept these things as they are. The next step is to evaluate the individual’s values, what is important to them, and how they want to change. The last main component of ACT is to make a commitment to acting towards that goal responsibly. ACT is a “call to action" in the individual to achieve their desired outcome. ACT for marriage phobia will involve the client making ac ommitment to make the difficult decisions to do things they may fear so as to achieve their goals and values which may be to have a healthy committed relationship.

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    Psychodynamic Therapy

    Psychodynamic Therapy focuses on unconcious patterns in the mind. Although it sounds counter-intuitive and bizzarre, numerous neuroimaging studies have shown that we often make decisions before being consciously aware or having conscious thoughts involving the decision. Behind our thoughts there is an ocean of emotion, experiences, and hopes which influence our actions and thoughts. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on bringing these to the surface so as to better understand yourself so that you can move on and gain control of your emotions and thoughts. Psychodynamic Therapy for marriage phobia will focus on the emotional response that you may be experiencing. Instead of avoiding these negative emotions, the patient will fully experience them and this will make the fears lose their power over the patient as they process their reasoning behind them.

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    Efficacy of Each Therapy

    Each orientation above have shown moderate results in curing anxiety and phobias. The determination of which therapy is right for you will depend on your personality and coping style. It has been shown that individuals who are more thoughtful and rational in their basic state achieve better results from cognitive based approaches like CBT and ACT. On the other hand, individuals who are guided more by their emotions achieve better results with Psychodynamic Therapy. It is important for you to determine if it is thought or emotion which has a greater impact on your behavior and to choose the appropriate therapy.

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    Topics to Confront to Conquer Your Fear of Marriage

    Whichever orientation of therapy you choose, to treat your fear of marriage you must confront the following.

    • What specifically are you afraid of? A loss of independence? Divorce?
    • What steps can you take to avoid that outcome?
    • What occurred in your previous relationships that caused them to fail or for the feared outcome to occur?
    • Talk to successfully married couples that you know for guidance.
    • Do you have realistic expectations for marriage? All relationships have conflicts and it is how you approach these conflicts which determine the outcome.