Cold feet

 

Cold Feet, pre-wedding jitters or bridal nerves, a general sense of nervousness about a wedding are normal – after all it's a life-altering step that you're taking. If you're feeling cold feet, try to relax and explore your feelings. Figuring out what's behind them will either lead you to a stronger and healthier marriage or save you from making a huge mistake.

 

The difference between cold feet and serious problems

We all know that planning a wedding is stressful. What we don’t always realize is that stress can manifest itself as other concerns. Your anxiety about getting married may simply be anxiety about your insurmountable task list. Try to differentiate between being stressed about wedding planning and being stressed about the marriage. Worrying about small details doesn't mean that you shouldn't marry the person you love; instead, perhaps it's a sign that you need more help or that you should scale down the event. 

 

Cold feet symptoms

First step is to identify the emotional struggle many women face when getting engaged giving the fact that after the initial excitement, many women soon realize that engagement is one of the most significant psychological transitions in their lives. Deep down, the newly engaged woman often feels some unexpected emotions of fear, anxiety, sadness, and loss. These important and largely ignored or tabooed feelings are what most engaged woman must face and confront in order to be fully prepared to enter into a healthy marriage.

 

Feelings of loss?

There is no other time in your life when you are truly giving up one identity for another. The transition is more complex than simply taking a new last name, a litteral change of identity and a decision that brings with it its own set of questions and anxieties. You are also giving up your symbolic identity as a single woman, even as a child. Women often worry, “I’m losing my youth” or “I won’t be able to relate to my single girlfriends.” A stage in your life, the only stage you have ever experienced, is ending, and many women experience feelings of loss as a chapter closes on their lives.

 

What if…

As one chapter closes, another begins – a chapter of commitment and togetherness. This new stage brings forth feelings of joy and excitement, but fear and uncertainty are also involved. You are entering into a partnership with another human being, causing your future’s happiness to rely so heavily on the actions of another. Needless to say, this realization can expose feelings of fear. What if our marriage doesn’t last? What if he cheats on me? What if I cheat on him? What if the passion fades and we grow apart? What if something terrible happens to him? These questions can penetrate the mindset of even the most selfcounisous bride.

 

Am I making a mistake?

Popular culture and society norms seem to conveniently ignore these questions and uncertainties. Instead they focus on material and practical problems that are involved with arranging a wedding. Even those closest to us neglect to recognize the importance of more internally probing questions and advice during our engagement. As a result, many women begin to question their readiness for marriage. Any feeling less than euphoric is deemed as indication of making a mistake, as we have been conditioned to believe that anxiety and confusion are a reflection of “not being ready” or choosing the wrong partner. Thus, instead of accepting and discussing these feelings, we distract ourselves with the wedding planning and ignore our internal emotions.

 

Are we too different?

Lets make one thing very clear from the beginning; Men and women are very different in almost every senses that relate to solving and dealing with internal or personal issues. Like a genetical code we are inprintet with certain patterns of behavior when overwhelmed with emotional stress. Usually women let go of the worries and tension by being given the space and time to talk in a non-­­goal-orientated way. This way she feels heard and nurtured and greater intimacy and the weight of her problems lift. A man on the other hand often cope with stress differently. If a man can put his feelings into action, he begins to feel more in control. For instance by achieving a simple goal like going to the gym and working out or teeing off on the golfcourse helps him sort out his thoughts and concerns, clarify his values and priorities and develop a plan of action. So don’t panic if you feel your future husband is trying to trivialize all your worries by giving you unnecessary advises, he is simply trying to help you the best way he knows.

 

Love…What Love?

Maritial love is that deep inner feeling of love and trust and respect and commitment.These are the 4 cornerstones of marriage and with a natural balance between each of them you can work through any difference you will encounter through your marriage. It is my personal belief that marriage for any reason other than love – such as a ticking biological clock, financial security, or family appeasement – is a bad idea. I am not saying that a healthy marriage can survive on love alone, only that it cannot survive without it.

 

My future husband is the one with cold feet

Naturally future grooms can experience cold feet as well and since the man is genetically inprinted to be the protector and provider of the family, his most common worry will be the economy in general. Like for instance his carreer prospects, job security and personal finances in order to be able to secure the welfare of future children and make you happy. The best way to support your future husband if he is being hesitant, is to express your gratitude for all the things he provides you with to make you feel secure, and, most important of all, let there be no doubt that you would marry him regardless of money and status.

 

Learning to accept your feelings

In reality, these thoughts could not be more normal. In every other major life transitions, simultaneous feelings of loss and gain are not only expected, but encouraged. When you graduated high school, when you graduated college, when you moved away from your hometown, when you left your first job for a better opportunity, those around you understood and sympathized with your conflicting emotions. But did those feelings of sadness and loss hinder you from taking that next step and succeeding with flying colors? Of course not. You allowed yourself to address and analyze your thoughts, then you proceeded with the change. This is exactly what you need to do during your engagement as you prepare for your journey to the altar and marriage. Realize that feelings of sadness and anxiety are normal, allow yourself to feel these feelings, and discuss and analyze them with those around you. Don’t allow your friends and family to focus solely on the wedding planning details to the exclusion of your internal struggles.

 

The engagement stage involves more than simply planning a big party. It involves introspection and emotional analysis. It involves open communication with your fiancé, family, and friends. It involves acceptance of fear and sadness. Once a bride realizes the complexity of this transition, she can address her emotions and move forward in planning for both a fabulous party and a successful next chapter in her life.

 

Strategies for overcoming cold feet

  • Spend some time writing down your fears. You may find that once they are on paper, they become silly. If not, write down possible solutions to each problem, should it become true. For example, fears over a loss of identity could have solutions such as not changing your name, taking up new hobbies, or reserving one night a week post-marriage for "girls’ night" or "boys’ night."

  • Differentiate whether your cold feet are stress over getting married in general, or questions about this specific relationship. Take a break from wedding planning – it will all be there when you're ready to move on.

  • Designate at least one night weekly as a "wedding-free zone" where you do not talk about the wedding at all.

  • Spend some time writing about the happiest moments of your relationship, perhaps including your first dates, when you fell in love, and the story of your engagement.

  • Write down all the good things about being a married person.

  • Talk to happily married couples and ask them the secrets of their success.

  • Visit an individual or couples therapist.Talk to your Priest, Rabbi, Sheik or a trusted friend.

  • Rekindle the romance – go away for a romantic weekend, make dinner for each other, spend time pampering one another.

 

Serious problems

Now that we have unfolded the emotional issues and accepted them as a normal healthy part of experiencing cold feet before getting married, let us move on to the more serious problems that should cause you to have second thoughts about your Wedding.

 

  • If your future spouse (husband) has abused you either physically, emotionally, verbally, sexually.

  • If either one of you has been unfaithful or deceitful, stealing or lying.

  • If you have unreconcilable family issues like differing plans for having/raising children, serious family disapproval that you cannot live with.

  • If you've discovered that your future spouse (husband) has an addiction such as drugs, alcohol or gambling problem and is not in recovery.

  • If you have conflicting beliefs in religious matters that your partner is unwilling to discuss or resolve.

  • If you have conflicting attitudes and habits in financial matters that your partner is unwilling to discuss or resolve.

  • If your fiancé‘s sexual orientation is different that what he originally led you to believe.

 

Anyone of these issues should cause you to stop and think twice about the fundamental needs that you require from a life long relationship. Do not underestimate the importance of sharing the same opinion on basic values, norm and traditions since this is a significant part of your identity.

 

Many women enter a relationship thinking they can change their husband and shape him exactly the way they want him to be but let’s make one thing very clear; the only person you can change in a relationship is yourself. If you recognise any of these unsolved conflicts in your relationship I strongly suggest that you consider postponing the wedding until you’re confident that you fully know your partner – and even better get some premarital counselling. During counselling you get the major issues out on the table and it helps you see what you need to work on. It might tell you that you're not ready to get married, which, although it sounds like a disastrous diagnosis, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Postponing your wedding can help you have a stronger marriage and healthier life, if that's what you need. On the other hand, premarital counselling might help confirm that you are a great match, and alleviate some of those pre-wedding jitters and cold feet.

 

DISCUS

Bettina Hemmingsen