The fear of marriage, also known as gamophobia, is a phenomenon that can occur at any time during life. There is some evidence that a portion of the world’s population is predisposed toward this type of phobia, but most cases can usually be tracked to one or more traumatic events that led to the marriage fears. Fortunately, this type of disorder can be treated, allowing the individual to pursue marriage if he or she chooses.
There is a great deal of disagreement on how many people simply prefer to remain single by choice and how many have a deep fear of marriage. Some people who possess some degree of trepidation regarding the act of marriage choose to dismiss their fear as silly, and enter into the arrangement due to social and cultural pressures. Often, people who are persistently afraid of marriage may exhibit ongoing periods of depression and anxiety disorders that manifest as panic attacks, sometimes assuming their fears are only a manifestation of those mental disorders, rather than being the root cause.
Many studies indicate that the fear of marriage is more prevalent among people who have experienced some type of trauma that they connect with the act of marriage. For example, a man or woman who is physically or verbally abused in a marriage may be unable to entertain the idea of getting married again, sometimes to the point of avoiding any relationships that could eventually lead to the altar. In like manner, a child growing up in an abusive home may associate the physical and emotional pain of those years with marriage, to the point of becoming physically ill when the idea of marrying is discussed.
It is generally agreed that a fear of marriage is found in just about every culture. The phenomenon is widespread enough that psychologists are often trained in methods to aid patients in overcoming the deep-seated fears of matrimony or even the intense fright that the idea of being married brings on. Seeking treatment is extremely important, since the condition can trigger the development of other phobias that further inhibit social interaction and prevent individuals from enjoying life to the fullest.
As with many types of fears and phobias, a fear of marriage can be successfully treated over time. There is no one course of treatment that works in every situation. A few basic strategies are often included in any type of treatment, including identifying the underlying causes for the phobia, and utilizing techniques such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to aid the patient in altering perceptions of marriage. Depending on the severity of the condition, healthcare professionals may also use anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants to ease the strong feelings of impending doom and disorientation that the condition tends to trigger.