It’s totally normal to have jitters before the wedding day, but cold feet are another thing entirely.
This test by therapist Jennifer Gauvain, co-author of “How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy,” can help you determine if your jitters are something to be concerned about:
You are feeling nervous about your wedding. Which of the following best describes the source of your concerns?
a. Planning the wedding and reception
b. Giving up my life as a single person
c. Giving up my life as a single person and the stress of planning the wedding and reception
d. My relationship with my fiance
If you answered ‘a,’ ‘b’ or ‘c,’ you probably just have jitters. If you answered ‘d,’ you probably have cold feet. Consider this: If you could walk away right now and cancel the wedding, free of fear, guilt, embarrassment and a loss of money, would you do it? If you would, then this is not just normal pre-wedding jitters.
If you’ve established that you have cold feet and they’re due to major relationship flaws, you may want to consider calling the wedding off.
“If it’s pretty clearly doomed before it begins, maybe a relatively small inconvenience now will help prevent a more financially and emotionally costly mess in the future,” clinical psychologist Ryan Howes told The Huffington Post. “Seek counsel and guidance first, of course, but until you make your public vows of unity, you can and should be thinking of what’s in your best interest.”
But if you truly believe the problems can be worked through, there’s hope. Below, marriage counselors share their recommendations for getting your relationship back on track.
1. Talk to your partner.
“You might be hesitant to discuss your cold feet with your partner, but if this is the person with whom you plan on sharing a lifetime, you should be able to have open, honest and sometimes difficult conversations. This could be the opportunity for you both to discuss some of the stresses about the new and unknown future. Perhaps just getting it out in the open and hearing from your partner that they understand your concerns may actually relieve any nervousness you may have.” ― Nari Jeter, marriage and family therapist
2. Go to therapy.
“Whether individual or couple’s, therapy can help you formulate thoughts around your cold feet and practice communicating it. A qualified therapist can give you tools for managing your anxiety, help you recognize what is cold feet and what are red flags and create a dialogue to get the support and reassurance you need from your future spouse. Therapy can help normalize this process and help you move away from doubt and into excitement about your future. Society seems to have the belief that it must not be right if it’s too hard. Relationships take work and transitions such as moving in together and joining families are tough on a relationship.”― Anne Crowley, licensed psychologist
3. Get out of the house.
“Go out to nature, take a weekend away by yourself or do other things that help clear your mind. It will give you a chance to miss your partner, and to let the emotional waves calm down so you can get a better insight into what’s going on.”― Gal Szekely, marriage and family therapist
4. Ask the hard questions.
“If your concerns are more so about your compatibility with your future spouse, you should take this seriously. Have you worked together through the important questions? Have you gone on a compatibility revealing road trip together? Most of the time, past behavior predicts future behavior, so could you handle it if your partner stayed the same throughout your marriage, or are you hoping for a significant change? Spoiler alert: spontaneous major changes don’t often happen. If you have solid answers to the tough questions, and have made your decision from an informed place, you’ve done the best you can.” ― Ryan Howes, clinical psychologist
5. Keep a journal.
“Often when we have cold feet, we are looking to an external source for reassurance; however, external responses do not always resonate and make us feel better. Get it out, but do it in a safe space. Get a paper journal and your favorite pen and start writing. This exercise will help you process thoughts as well as emotions. By getting it out, you will ideally stop ruminating, get some distance from the doubt and start to reassure yourself. Spend time writing the negative thoughts that are consuming you, but don’t stop there. Answer your own questions and write about the positives in your partner and in your relationship.”― Anne Crowley
6. Get reassurance from good friends.
“Friends that have known you and your partner for a while probably have a more objective and less emotional take on you and your relationship. They can calm you down and remind you of the big picture and what they appreciate about the two of you.” ― Gal Szekely