2. I worry that my husband will cheat on me and I won't be able to forgive him. And I'm not even married yet!
You're probably worried that your spouse will have extramarital sex or an emotional affair. But there are many ways to cheat: neglect, indifference, spite, refusal of physical intimacy, lack of respect. "Cheating" fails to describe the multiple ways people let each other down.
Before thinking about whether you'd be able to forgive him, it's important to understand what violations of trust mean to a relationship. Forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance but rather understanding, the ability to come to terms with a certain reality, and a willingness to live with it while it finds its place in our lives.
I once worked with a couple who had been together since high school. The man had an affair after his father died because he wanted to break loose from the constrictions he felt had been imposed on him by his father, and to rebel against being dutiful and responsible. While the wife was no less hurt, understanding that the affair had very little to do with her gave it a different meaning. The couple also gained new insights into each other: This strong woman showed a vulnerable side her husband hadn't been aware of, and this bold man was not the husband she thought she knew.
The thought that a partner can leave is not a baseless worry; it's a fact of love. There is no love without the fear of loss. Rather than becoming anxious about the possibility of your spouse cheating on you, think of your concern as an awareness that is part of being in a relationship. — Esther Perel, MA
(Perel is the author of Mating in Captivity [HarperCollins].)
3. The clock is ticking, but I'm not sure I want a child—yet I worry that if I don't have one, I'll regret it when it's too late.
There are parts of life where you can compromise, but not here: You either have a child or don't.
The fear of regretting that you didn't have a child is not the best reason to have one. That said, rarely have I seen a patient who regretted becoming a mother, because once the baby is in the world, the woman loves it. Usually, the woman wants to be a parent and it's her spouse who isn't sure; he goes along with it because he listens to her fear of regret. Yet when the baby is born, he doesn't regret it either; he loves it, too.
On the other hand, I have had patients who've regretted not having children. The good news is, there are so many ways you can rectify that, including adoption and IVF. — Gail Saltz, MD
(Dr. Saltz is a psychiatrist and author of Anatomy of a Secret Life [Morgan Road].)
4. Cancer runs in my family. Am I destined to get it, too?
Not necessarily. The top three things you can do to tip the odds in your favor are to maintain a waistline that's generally less than half your height in inches, eat low on the food chain, and not be a toxic dump—avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and asbestos, things like that. You can't control your genes, but they aren't as significant as how you affect them with risk factors you can control, such as smoking and obesity. — Mehmet Oz, MD
(Dr. Oz is the coauthor [with Michael F. Roizen] of You, on a Diet [Free Press].)
We Hear You!