OMG – I’m Marrying the Wrong Person!

It starts off as a nagging feeling in your gut. Over time, it grows into pervasive worry, poor sleep, and moodiness. Finally, it escalates and your emotions morph out of control into a full-fledged panic. All because you realize you are about to marry the wrong person!

Before you start packing and heading for the hills, spend a few minutes looking at what exactly is going on. Marriage is so much more than just setting up house with someone with whom you love being intimate. Going from single to married signifies an important identify shift. It means saying good-by to singlehood and all the flirtatious or impulsive adventures. This can bring feelings of sadness and loss into your anticipated transition into marriage.

Overcoming this hurdle and successfully resolving your fears of marriage can go one of two ways. It may be a growth experience, bringing you to a deeper level of intimacy and emotional fulfillment with your future spouse. Or, it could save you from making a terrible mistake. Either way, you owe it to yourself – and your future spouse – to be truthful about your feelings. Using denial to get through the short run of “I-dos” will not get you through the long run of life. Denial simply isn’t an ingredient for a winning marriage. Being authentic – truthful to yourself and others, regardless of what the truth is – will bring the happiness you seek and deserve.

7 Ways to Deal with Your Pre-Marital Cold Feet

1. Share your feelings with your partner. Your having second thoughts about getting married will be upsetting to your partner. But marriage is where trust should exist for intimate and even unacceptable feelings to be shared. Your partner may be experiencing some of the same feelings. By talking about the issues, the two of you may develop tools to work together as a team and resolve your uncertain feelings.

2. Share your feelings with your support system. Talk to happily married friends and family members, and find out how they dealt with pre-marital jitters. Ask if they have observed issues in your relationship that cause them to share your concerns.

3. Don’t physically isolate yourself. Isolation is a dark place that can result in a downward spiral. It is helpful to have some time apart from the three billion people who are talking nonstop wedding-wedding-wedding. Time to reflect on your feelings, and even journal your thoughts, is useful. However, the danger of pulling away from everyone is that you end up missing the opportunity to mix the knowledge and input from others. Feedback from others helps us make reality based decisions.

4. Don’t feel guilty about disappointing others. Lost deposits, related expenses and other’s expectations will be resolved with time. You need to live your life for yourself, not others. Would you expect your best friend to get married just because family and friends expected him or her to follow through on the plans? If not, then why would you accept less for yourself?

5. Look at the meaning of commitment and intimacy for you. If you have experienced previous abandonments, then perhaps the unresolved feelings from those traumas are burdening you at this time. Fear of entering a commitment that could result in a future loss could be so traumatic that you may be protecting yourself by not risking marriage.

6. Examine your future spouses’ ‘deal-killer’ flaws. Are you reacting to some worrisome qualities your future spouse exhibits that you have ignored up to now? Everyone has personal flaws. But some behavioral or character flaws will affect the sustainability of the marriage and even the quality of your own life. Some people prefer to focus on the partner’s positive qualities, while simultaneously ignoring very serious negative qualities, like addictions, infidelity, and physical abuse. Love and marriage alone will not make this problem go away. There are married people whose partner’s addictions have wrecked their personal credit and finances. There are many victims of marital abuse who would be alive today if they had chosen to become runaway brides instead of marrying an abusive fiancé.

7. Examine your coping skills for stress. Getting married is stressful. Are you delegating some of the marriage preparations to others? Are you taking care of yourself during this time period? Exercise, even walking, can help. Make sure you are eating and sleeping properly. Finally, setting limits by saying ‘no’ can be a stress reducer. You need to take care of your own needs before you can be there for others.

I welcome any comments readers have on dealing with big decisions such as marriage. It could be selecting a college, making a geographical move, etc.

Eileen Lenson