Couple talking and walking
Couple talking and walking

Dear Fiona: My parents have a ‘dreadful’ marriage – will mine end up like that too?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine reassurance a woman who’s having doubts about marriage.

Fiona Caine
Tuesday 06 July 2021 08:30

The problem…

“My fiancé and I are supposed to be getting married later this summer, having had to delay our wedding twice because of the pandemic. The thing is though, I am having real doubts about whether it’s worth going ahead with it at all.

“It’s my parents’ marriage that is making me have doubts, as we had to live with them during lockdown and I’ve seen just how dreadful their 29-year marriage is. I suppose I knew it was awful when I was younger, but seeing them together through this time has really made me doubt everything.

“Although they had four children together, they have never stopped fighting and scratching at each other. There never seemed to be much love in our house, and my brother and sisters got out as soon as they possibly could. All three of them told me I was making a terrible mistake in going back, but my parents are older now and I just wanted to know they’d be OK.

“My fiancé has been very patient with them – even when they’ve been totally unreasonable during a row. He’s an amazing guy and I really love him so much, but spending time with my parents has made me worried that our marriage will end up like theirs. My fiancé says I should stop worrying as he loves me, but how can I be sure?”

Fiona says…

“There are no guarantees that a marriage will work, and a successful one is based on several factors. Love, tolerance, patience and respect being just a few of them.

“You say your parents’ marriage is making you doubt how your own marriage might work out, but is their marriage unsuccessful? It may not be the kind of marriage you would like – and it certainly wouldn’t suit me – but some couples thrive on fighting together! And just because your parents fight and argue, doesn’t mean that your marriage is going to be the same.

Arguing couple

“You and your fiancé are two very different people, who want different things. Your doubts are natural though, and pre-marriage nerves are common at the best of times. The fact that you’ve had your wedding delayed twice must have made you even more anxious. Add to that, staying with your parents during that time, and seeing the way they conduct their marriage has inevitably made things even more difficult for you.

“Your fiancé is quite right, when he tells you to stop worrying, but that’s easier said than done. As long as you are living under their roof and listening to their arguments, it is going to be on your mind. Keep talking to your fiancé though – the more you understand one another, the less likely you are to be unhappy.

It’s healthy to have your own opinions and beliefs...

“There is nothing wrong with disagreeing about things though – it’s healthy to have your own opinions and beliefs. What I think is important for you though, is that you can voice these opinions, without feeling the need to fight about it. You can learn lessons from your parents too. See what they are fighting about, and see how you and your fiancé feel about the same issue.

“Big arguments in marriage are usually around things like money, loyalty, and children. I would, therefore, encourage you to discuss those topics with him, as they are things where you probably do have to be on the same page.

“Finally, I would also encourage you to talk to your parents and tell them how anxious they are making you. You may find that they consider their marriage perfectly successful; that they’ve thrived on a diet of bickering and fighting because they really enjoy making up afterwards.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.