âI know everyone gets stressed before the wedding,â said Sarah. âBut weâre
arguing so much that I canât help wonder, Are we really right for each other?
How can I know if this is just the stress of wedding planning or a glimpse of
life to come?â
No bride wants to be having these thoughts as her wedding draws near. But even
though they donât always talk about it, sooner or later most brides do ask
themselves THE BIG QUESTION: Am I doing the right thing?
Whoever comes up with a foolproof method for knowing whether youâre marrying
the right person will make a mint! Itâs such an important decision and it can
be so confusing when the doubts arise. Unfortunately, there are no hard and
fast rules. No one can give you the answer. But I can give you some guidance
on how to look for the answer. Here are some ideas to try if youâre wondering
you have cold feet or wedding jitters.
First of all, youâve got to get quiet. The buildup to a wedding can be one of
the ânoisiestâ times of life, one of the hardest times to sit quietly and
listen to our inner wisdom. The psychological momentum of a wedding is very
powerful. You may feel like youâre on a freight train going full speed ahead
and that youâre powerless to jump off. But youâve absolutely got to carve out
some time just to thinkâand even more importantlyâto feel.
Many divorced womenâand unhappily married women--will say, âThere was a little
voice inside telling me I was making a mistake. But I was too caught up with
the dress and everything else to really listen to it.â
Donât be one of them. Far better that your menu or your favors arenât perfect
than that you find yourself a year from nowâor 5 or 10âsaying, âI think I
married the wrong man.â Make a commitment to spend regular periods of time
Choose a time when youâve got at least 30 minutes of time to yourself. Imagine
itâs month after youâve come back from your honeymoon. You and your fiancĂ© are
sitting alone together in your living room. There is no more wedding planning
frenzy. There is no one to make a fuss over the two of you. There are no more
fittings. No more presents. No more events. Just the two of you, in the quiet
of your home. How does that feel?
Wonderful or disappointing? Comforting or scary? Intimate or boring?
Iâm not suggesting you have to be homebodies for the rest of your lives. Just
that the essence of your relationship is the two of you alone. If that picture
makes you uncomfortable in any way, you need to be very honest with yourself
and explore why.
Now that youâve imagined being alone with your fiancĂ©, really do it! Go to a
park, take a walk, do something with minimal distractions. Strange as it may
seem, at some point in the wedding planning process, some couples feel like
theyâve got to get reacquainted. This is particularly true if you have
different perspectives on the wedding. You may feel like youâve started to
live in different worlds. (See the May 2003 article, Your Wedding, His
Wedding, for a discussion of this issue.)
You need to really experience each other away from the hubbub to know how you
Ask yourself if you really, truly, honestly accept your fiancĂ© as he is right
now. Many brides are unconsciously (or consciously!) on a campaign to change
their fiancĂ©s. THIS DOES NOT WORK. I REPEAT, THIS DOES NOT WORK. Yes, you will
adjust to each other as time goes on. Youâll get more skilled at compromising.
Youâll learn how to resolve arguments more quickly and with less pain. But
there are two truths that anyone embarking on marriage must understand: 1)
People donât change very much or very fast. 2) People only change if THEY want
Janet had been a sports aficionado since she was in her teens. Team sports,
water sports, you name it, she loved it. She especially loved tennis. Her idea
of the ideal vacation wasâno surprise hereâgoing to a resort with a tennis
program. She ran up against reality when she started planning her honeymoon
with her fiancĂ© Gil. Gil did not want to play tennis on his honeymoon. Gil did
not want to play very much tennis anytime. Gil wanted to go lie on a beach in
Janet was crushed. She finally had to face the fact that life with Gil was not
going to be filled with sports. He was just a very sweet laid back guy who was
not into exercise. Looking back over their dating life, it was clear that
while he was sometimes in the mood for an active weekend and she sometimes
felt like just hanging out, their pictures of the ideal weekend rarely
coincided. Janet needs to stop trying to turn Gil into a jock and ask herself:
Can I live with this? Do all his other wonderful qualities, of which there are
many, offset this one? Can I be happy doing sports with my friends? Can I
sincerely let go of my drive to change him? No one can answer these questions
but Janet. And she can answer them only if she takes some time and gets quiet
and is very honest with herself.
All couples have âlandmines,â those disagreements that are particularly
intense and difficult to resolve. They often feel like they have the same
argument over and over without getting ahead. Ask yourself if any of your
landmines are in critical areas: money, sex, in-laws, children, or career. If
so, this doesnât necessarily mean you shouldnât get married. What it does mean
is that you need to address the issue head-on and start making a plan for
dealing with it. Some pre-marital counseling is probably in order.
When you find yourself asking THE BIG QUESTION, very likely your first impulse
will be to push it out of your mind. Do yourself a favor and face it head on.
If there are good reasons for your doubts, you really will be glad you knew
sooner rather than later. And even if, like most brides, youâre just feeling
normal wedding jitters, the best gift you can give yourself is to explore them
thoroughly. Then youâll feel sure, youâll feel calm, and you can put your
jitters aside and give yourself over to having a wonderful engagement and
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