Walking down the aisle was the first act of bravery, but even years into it, these marriage what-ifs still make him nervous. By Anna Davies, REDBOOK.
"I worry that we'll stop having sex."
This is men's top fear--of the 10 we spoke to, every one spilled it first. And while the occasional dry spell doesn't spell disaster, the best way to continue to maintain an awesome sex life is to, well, have sex. Although it may sound unromantic to make "sex dates," experts agree that they can help you past the we-don't-have-time hump that often comes with busy careers, stress, and kids. Finally, know that when you're not feeling it, sex may be just what you need to create a spark. "Of course sex is about expressing your love for each other, but it can also be a way to work through tension and get rid of stress," says sexologist and The New Monogamy author Tammy Nelson, Ph.D.
Related: 10 Lies Men WANT You to Tell Them
"Am I doing enough in my marriage?"
Men are surprisingly worried that they're not pulling their weight in their relationships and that consequently, you'll get sick of them. Luckily, the best way to quell this fear is as simple as regularly checking in with each other, says Marcia Naomi Berger, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love. "Knowing there's a time to talk about the little stressors that crop up can help you handle most situations before they spiral into larger issues."
"What if we hit a bump in the road we can't handle?"
Seeing other couples go through hard times--illness, a death in the family, financial infidelity--can make men wonder how you and he would react if your relationship was rocked by a similar situation. The what-if game can cause anyone to panic, which is why regularly reassuring your husband that you're always on the same side is good relationship upkeep, says Berger. And know that if you've gotten through the small stuff--sleepless post-baby nights, an annoyingly overbearing mother-in-law, a stressful mortgage situation--you're equipped to rise to whatever occasion crops up.
"What if we stop being attracted to each other?"
Experts agree you can avoid this fate by making daily compliments and make-out sessions a habit. Doing so will mimic the rush you felt when you started dating and help keep romance alive in the midst of everyday stuff, says Dylan Thrasher, a relationship expert and author of How to Find and Create Lasting Love. Another option: Occasionally open up your date nights to another couple. A study from Wayne State University found that because double-dating gives you the chance to see your partner through others' eyes, it can be beneficial to your relationship. In other words, watching your neighbors on the edge of their seats when your husband recounts stories from his long-ago backpacking adventure will remind you not to take his free spirit for granted.
Related: 7 Things He Wished He'd Known Before You Got Married
"What if we stop laughing?"
Laughter can absolutely cement a marriage--as well as help smooth out rocky moments. But because it's hard to find anything funny about a hip-high pile of laundry or the GI bug that's plaguing your household, it's important to have inside jokes, or simply to guffaw instead of snap when life gets ridiculous, says Thrasher. And make sure there are opportunities for lighthearted moments: Writing funny poems with refrigerator magnets, imagining what type of accent the family cat would have, or even making a point to drift off to The Late Show can help keep you smiling.
"What if we aren't really soulmates?"
The pressure to call your husband your "soulmate" can be scary, especially when Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make it easy to confront the ghosts of relationships past. In fact, a 2013 study at the University of Missouri found that excessive Facebook use can damage relationships. Avoid temptation by trying not to go too crazy on social media, and stay connected with your husband by discussing all the stuff you've been through together. It's experience--not fate--that forges relationships, and the more you remember what you've enjoyed and overcome, the easier it is to understand the road less traveled isn't necessarily the one either of you wants to be on.
"Sometimes I worry she loves the kids more than me."
This belief often stems from inadvertently keeping your husband out of the loop about decisions regarding the kids, say experts. Making sure you and he are a united parenting front--and that you both know what's going on with your children--ensures that he feels like you're a unit, says Berger. And, of course, prioritizing regular date nights and getting Grandma to move in for a weekend while you two take a mini-vacation will keep your bond front and center.
Related: 10 Things Men Love to Hear in Bed
"I'm worried about drifting. What if we just aren't on the same page?"
Start by making it a priority to regularly talk about your dreams and goals--and don't discount your husband's desires as out of reach or ridiculous. "Couples should be upfront and completely transparent about long-term goals," says Barbie Adler, a relationship expert and founder of Selective Search, a national matchmaking firm. That means letting him know that you've been looking into grad school programs and actually exploring how you could budget to afford the lake house he's been dreaming about. When you validate that stuff and know you can talk about anything, you pave the way for you and him to grow together.
"Divorce. Even the word causes me to shiver."
Divorce is terrifying--especially when you see it happening in your social circle. In fact, a 2013 study found that people who have a close friend or relative who's gotten divorced are more likely to get divorced themselves. That's why experts agree it's best to surround yourself with happy couples who are genuinely psyched to be with each other. Of course, some of your loved ones will have relationships that ultimately don't pan out, but you can guard yourself against becoming a statistic by ensuring you have plenty of relationship role models to aspire toward.
"What if one of us dies?"
"Till death do us part" sounds romantic… until you actually think about the dying part. But first, the good news: A study from Brigham Young University found that happy marriages can actually help keep both parties healthy. Another way to ensure you both live well into your golden years? Hold each other accountable for regular checkups and screenings, especially if one of you is squeamish about doctor visits.
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