The stress of pre-wedding planning can freak anyone out. Oftentimes, the stress itself can cause arguments and before long, you find that you’re obsessing on all of the things that annoys you about your partner and wondering if they’re really the one.
Cold feet and being racked with doubts are two different things. There is a difference between healthy doubts, which everyone has and really do come as a natural part of pre-wedding jitters, and serious warning signs. Really, though, chances are good that your cold feet mean nothing more than that your relationship needs a little Tender Loving Care.
Healthy Doubts, or Warning Signs?
We live in a country with depressing marriage statistics: almost half of all marriages end in a divorce. When you look around you and feel yourself getting cynical about the reality of a life-long commitment, remember one important thing:
You control your commitment. Your relationship is private, and has nothing to do with any relationships around you.
Try sitting down and thinking seriously about where your doubts are coming from. Is it your partner, or the idea of marriage itself? If you find that you can answer – easily and quickly – that it’s mostly about marriage itself, then you’re going to be Okay. Your upcoming marriage isn’t in jeopardy, you’re just being logical.
Talk with your partner over dinner, or create some private cuddle time where no planning is involved. Ask him or her about what they want from your marriage, what is their vision of the “ideal marriage”, and how do the two of you work towards living within that vision? Take some time to ask each other and yourselves hard questions, too. What makes you think you’ll be happy together? What is really important to you in life? Important in love? What couples can you look to as inspiration, because their commitment to one another is admirable?
The answers you come up with as a couple, and the ones you answer yourself honestly, will shed a lot of light on your worries. Change makes people uncomfortable, and marriage is one of the most life-altering changes two people can make. If you and your partner see eye-to-eye and feel just as strongly for each other as ever, take a few deep breaths and relax.
Pinpoint a Source
A lot of pre-wedding jitters can be pinpointed to a main source. Maybe you’re stressing about money, or worrying that your partner might be too obsessed with work. Take a step back from your fears and analyze them: whose fears are these? Are they really yours … or are they the voice of your parent’s expectations?
There is no magic bullet for a beautiful marriage. We can’t, unfortunately, consult a manual that tells us exactly how our relationship needs to work in order for it to last. What that means is that you have to decide what you want, not what your parents, siblings, or friends want for you.
Try to figure out where your fears are coming from, and if they aren’t your own fears … it’s time to try comforting those who are giving you the doubts, give your partner a big kiss, and merrily continue your wedding planning.
Offering Some TLC
When you’ve come to the point that you realize that yes, you love your partner and really do want to make this commitment to them, you will want to make a conscious effort to give your relationship a little Tender Loving Care. Not only will it help ease your cold feet (and possibly theirs!), but it reminds both of you how much you mean to each other.
Some easy TLC gift and activity ideas:
• Send your sweetie a dozen roses. Not just any roses, though – send 11 red ones, and one white. Include a note that says, “There’s always one who stands out from the crowd. You’re that one.”
• Purchase a lottery ticket and attach a brief note that says, “I hit the jackpot when you said yes.”
• Hire a masseuse to give you and your honey a massage at home.
• Get a small packet of parchment paper or pretty stationary, and sit down together to create a mural. Each square of paper should contain an inspirational, loving quote or words from one of you to the other. Then, frame the quotes in a regular photo frame and hang it somewhere you can both look at it often.
• For the guys – put a new piece of jewelry in her jewelry box, don’t announce it, and wait till she notices it to tell her that she is the gem of your life.
• Play romantic scrabble. Instead of just any word, you have to use words that describe your sweetie – beautiful, angelic, divine, charming, enticing, sensual, etc.
• Spend a whole afternoon taking photographs.
When Doubts are Warning Signs
In the end, if you have serious doubts about getting married, you shouldn’t get married. Unfortunately, not all love stories have a happy ending but if you forge through and get married despite having real fears you only lengthen the eventual heartache for yourself and your partner.
If you decide that you simply can’t go through with the wedding, you need to take action right away. Any heirlooms (rings or other items) given to you by your partner’s family or your partner should be returned. For one, it’s just the moral thing to do – but it will also save you a lot of pain when you don’t have to keep looking at the items and remembering.
You will need to cancel any arrangements that have been made (vendors, florists, caterers, etc.) and hope that they have a cancellation policy that allows you to get some of your deposits back. Not all places will, most notably your dress maker. Also, don’t expect to get reimbursed for any expenses you have made – neither tradition nor feelings dictate that your partner has to repay you when you call off the wedding.
If you have sent out invitations, jot out a brief note in a word processor, print as many copies as you need to, and get them in the mail as soon as possible. You don’t need to go into sordid details, simply state that the wedding will not take place but you thank them for their thoughts.
After you’ve done all the hard stuff, take a day away and do something that is just for you. Making a big decision like this isn’t easy on anyone.