What do you do when the wedding bells you once heard are starting to sound more and more like warning bells?
It’s simple. Stop. Pay attention. Accept what you discover. Then communicate.
Warning bells can be a good thing. They let you know that something’s going on and you need to check it out.
Still, it’s easy to see what might keep that process from being quite so simple.
The wedding train. It is moving quickly. People are congratulating you, planning has commenced, and your ideas of nuptial perfection do not include second thoughts. It’s definitely difficult to think of slowing things down or disappointing your partner to address a case of premarital panic.
But marriage is not perfect. It is love wrapped in reality and it has its anxiety-making aspects.
And your cold feet are trying to tell you something.
It’s worth taking some time to see 1) if your jitters are just nerves or something more serious and 2) what you can do to deal with them as a couple.
What Do Your Jitters Mean?
So what’s got you so anxious? Before you do anything else, identify the thoughts and thought patterns that seem to keep creeping up. Here are a few of the most common:
Are you worried because the romantic dream just got real?
After all, it is perfectly normal to wonder how you’ll ensure that you and your partner fall into the half of the country that stays married forever. It isn’t unusual to get a case of the “what ifs” before the wedding ( what if I gain 75 pounds by our 10th anniversary, what if I get transferred to Istanbul for work, what if our house falls into a sinkhole and we lose everything…). It’s natural to wonder if you’ve got what it takes to make it.
Are you getting freaked out because you’re fuzzy on some key conversations about your future together?
Perhaps you’ve only skimmed the surface of discussions about finances, children, and careers. If you’re uncertain, you may wonder if you are really on the same page. It’s fairly common to worry whether you’re “really ready.” Perhaps you wonder if you’ll lose yourself and your dreams. You may fear you can’t meet your partner’s needs.
Have you just realized that your families are soon-to-be in-laws?
Wedding planning can highlight the fact that two families are joining together too. Depending on the circumstances, integrating the in-laws into your life can be a source of worry or tension if you haven’t discussed your expectations and boundaries in that regard.
Again, these are just a few of the most common “cold feet” contributors. Whatever your examination uncovers deserves acknowledgment and acceptance. Your feelings are real and you should honor them with your attention. If you don’t, anxiety can start to create distance or disconnect between you and your partner. You definitely don’t want that.
So, How Can You Deal When Forever Freaks You Out?
Slow down, stay present, sort out the truth in your thoughts
Premarital anxiety requires your attention. Not your overreaction.
Stay focused on the fact that you are in charge of your feelings. You can decide to remain in the moment and how to respond to your thoughts.
Anxious thoughts should be examined for truth and verified. Challenge the “what ifs.” Assumptions and conclusions based on fear just complicate things. Slow down and be intentional. Choose your focus ( Hint: your fiance and relationship are good places to start) to help you feel grounded and regain some clarity.
Construct lines of couple communication that are clear, committed and completely your own
Communication gaps can happen amid the engagement/ wedding hubbub. Don’t reduce sharing and discussion now. Tune out all the well-meaning advice and reconnect.
Let your partner in. Tell each other what’s bothering you. Give each other the room to work through any worry or insecurity. Listen well. Try not to react negatively to each other’s concerns. Instead, respond with compassion and support. Your relationship is more than wedding bliss. Commitment to compromise, healthy boundaries, and honesty is paramount.
Remember what’s real and solid in your relationship. Then, you can come together, have conversations that are uncomfortable or even ill-timed, and know for sure what steps to take from there. This is the most loving thing you can do for each other.
Define your goals, expectations, and relationship “brand”
How can the marital dream work if your teamwork isn’t defined? You can’t feel confident about what you’re working toward if you’re uncertain about what you want as a team.
Make it your mission to take an inventory of both your hopes and expectations to expand your own relationship perspective. Make a dream board, couple’s journal, web page, or whatever works, to help you assess and negotiate your joint future together. Be honest and willing to give as much time as you need to talking things through. This is foundational to your happiness.
Deciding how you want to do life together before the wedding, rather than after the fact, honors your individual needs and sets up a marital atmosphere of mutual respect.
Filter out the “magic” for real-life moments instead
Try not to get too wrapped up manufacturing fictional, fairy-tale, say-yes-to-the-dress moments. You may drive anxiety higher if they don’t happen the way you think they should. Your real-life relationship should not be compared to the fictionalized versions in movies, romance novels, and even social media. Such comparison leads to discontent and cold feet based on unrealistic ideals.
Concentrate on connecting with your mate often throughout your wedding planning to make real relationship memories that are uniquely yours.
Premarital Counseling helps
Cold feet don’t always mean frostbite. Sometimes they just need socks. Jitters often just need a bear hug to settle things down. Premarital anxiety often means you just need to be willing to slow down, put each other first and patiently work through it. That’s love and marriage.
And if you’re still struggling? Please consider counseling together before moving forward. Scheduling some time in a safe, supportive space to concentrate on your future is a worthwhile investment of your time.
Would you like my help tackling your jitters and resolving premarital anxiety? Please take some time to learn more about my approach to marital counseling and contact me for a consultation to get started soon.