Pre-Wedding Jitters

Archived Q&A and Reviews

A month away and having doubts

June 2003

Hi there, After 3 years of dating, 2.5 years living together , and raising his young children together, my boyfriend and i are getting married. We are less than a month away and the doubts are starting to barge in. Help! I assume this is all normal, but, i need some reasurance from some people who have expirienced this too. I hear some couples talk about how they LOVE everything about eachother, that they never argue, and still have great sex.......these are also friends with no children, but, is there something really wrong with my relationship if i CAN state things im not fond of in my husband to be? Thanks on my way to the alter

Couples who never argue? Well, who can say for sure what people do in the privacy of their own homes! But in my experience - I'm 40-something - you just don't see two people who are exactly in agreement about every single issue. I do know couples who are both very mild-mannered and easy going people - I always think they must have fewer disagreements than the couples where one or both are hypersensitive or exciteable - but who knows? Then there are the couples where one of them just represses when there is disagreement. Not my style, but some of these couples are long-lasting, so I guess this works for some people. In my case, I'm contentious and emotional but my husband is placid and mild- mannered. Thank goodness for him! He has about 45 irritating qualities (but remember I am easily irritated.) But his good points are in the 1000's if you give more weight to the important stuff. So, when I do my daily task of picking up his dirty socks off the floor and maneuvering around his stacks of books and magazines, I just *try* to repeat the mantra in my head of those thousands of good points. We still argue, mostly about his 45 bad things, even though I try really hard to not bring them up. He either doesn't notice all my bad things or is wiser than I am about keeping quiet about them. But he is my sunshine and my rock, so I'd gladly take another 45 irritations or more from him! - 99% happy

In my opinion, the experience you and your husband-to-be have by already raising a child together puts your relationship at a different place than the stereotypical engaged couple so don't compare yourself to that! Of course I don't like everything about my husband, but our marriage is strong because despite our disappointments, aggravations etc. we are committed to listening, working and growing together. Ultimately you are the only one who can make peace with your jitters. Is this really truly what you want? Do you believe it is the right thing for both of you? Is a real ''unconditional'' commitment there? Good Luck!

Listen to your jitters ! Even though you've been together for 5.5 years, being married is a different psychological ballgame altogether (even if you don't want it to be). Everything that bothers you now (or that you think will bother you) is going to bother you a lot more, not less, when you are married. Is there a big rush ? Is he having some second thoughts, too ? Is there any way you can postpone in order to ponder this ? I don't advise anyone to get married who is having any gut-level second thoughts about the prospect of being married (either to that person or to marriage in general). I have been happily married now for 7 years (a second marriage after a decade of being single), but wish someone had given me this advice before an early (short) marriage in my 20s. The old saying ''Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut after'' is a good one. anon

It sounds like you know your soon-to-be spouse very well, so it's no wonder you can talk about things you don't like about him! I had known my husband less than 2 years before we married, and never lived with him, so I guess it's no wonder I had a VERY bad case of the jitters. I was such a nervous wreck at the wedding that there is only one photo of me smiling. I still remember it as the tensist day of my life. In our case, my fears were based on a fairly significant age difference and personality incompatibilities. But we had two essential ingredients: respect and affection, and they have carried us further than passion (greatly on the wane since our kids came along), shared interests (we have some, but many that diverge), and a shared approach to intimacy (we don't have one). If you have respect and affection, take a deep breath and relax -- and have a blast at your wedding! I wish I could do mine over. anon

Yeah, I know how you feel. My fiance and I are getting married in 3 months, and boy are we scrutinizing eachother more than ever! So, you have friends who claim they never argue, eh? Well, not to worry, they're either lying or they're so emotionally fused (and, therefore, afraid to disagree about anything) that their relationship will eventually blow up on them, when they can no longer pretend that they are not separate people. Of *course* there are things about your husband-to-be that you don't like, you ARE separate people, and marriage isn't going to make you a single, perfectly functioning *unit* like so many couples I know who try to pretend. I think it's (at least in part) because Americans get a lot of romantic hooey from popular media (I always think of that classic sappy pop song that goes ''two hearts, beat as o-o-one...'' Yeah, right. Or think of just about ANY romantic movie). My advice is the same I tell everyone I know (and that I've given here before): buy the book ''Passionate Marriage'' by Dr. David Snarch. He's been a marriage councelor for 30 or more years and writes engagingly and brilliantly about what he has learned about relationships and what people can do to have amazing marriages. His book is inspiring and I wish everyone would read it. Once you do, you'll know some reason why you're friends may be claiming they ''NEVER argue.'' (I also think people are relunctant to admit that they have conflict because they feel that it is a reflection of failure on their parts as people. They have to be perfect people, and that means they have to have perfect relationships, and THAT means they can never argue with their partners). To make a long story longer: I think it's normal when you're about to commit yourself to some one, presumably for a lifetime, to be looking very hard at that person- such a big committment is scary. another bride-to-be

It's hard to give someone advice when one doesn't know the person at all, even with the information you included. And it seems to me that the people best to speak with are your family or very close friends who know both you and your fiance (that's if you can accept their advice and not hold a grudge if they say something that you don't necessarily want to hear). However, I did want to say that I had serious pre-wedding jitters about a month before we got married and slight jitters a few months before we got married...and, I wanted to get married! It was odd to be nervous about it and have ''doubts'' when I was finally getting my wish. We have been together for a total of 8 years and have been married for three of those 8 years now. Needless to say, I went with my gut instincts (which were telling me my fears/doubts were unfounded) and I am very happily married to the most wonderful man. So, here goes my ''generic advice'', albeit rambling. I think it's rare and unrealistic for a person to love every single thing about their partner. For me, I had to ask myself what the most important things are to me in a relationship, things that I didn't want to compromise or back down from (family values, whether we wanted kids and how many, honesty, supporting each other's decisions first and foremost and not doing what our familes wanted us to do just because that's what they wanted, etc.); and then, what are the things that annoy me but could live with if the thought of not being with the person was worse than the annoying trait (not as physically active as I am, more stay-at-home than myself, less opinionated than I'm used to, not as handy as I am around the home, etc.); and finally, what are the things I do love and appreciate about the person (this list is long). Marriage is a compromise. I don't believe that there is only one person out there for each of us; but I do believe that you can choose to live, and live happily, with one person for the rest of your life, as long as you compromise and know how to ''pick your battles''. Sex will not always be great (esp. if and when you have kids), you will definitely find some annoying habits of your spouse and you will have some major fights down the road. But, it's how you choose to deal with all of this and what you choose to deal with (hopefully you know what these are, before you get married) that matters ultimately. Good luck!!!! anonymous

Quite frankly, I think there is something wrong with people who CAN'T find any faults with their significant others!! And I don't know anyone like the couples you mentioned. But then my friends and I are older and have been married for awhile now, so we are WAY out of that honeymoon phase. And we all can find plenty of fault with each other! The secret is how you deal with those faults. I'm still workin' on it, and I've a feeling its a lifelong struggle/committment. So I think you are totally normal, and have a great wedding/marriage! Hilary

If you can state things you don't like about your fiance, you probably have a more accurate picture of what he, and your relationship with him, is like, and you won't have the nasty post-honeymoon awakening period (or at least not such a severe one) -- that point where couples who are totally in love with everything about their partner realize that things they loved while dating are really irritating to live with. That's when people realize what an effort a relationship really is, and there's a surge in the divorce rate about then (usually 2-3 years after couples marry). If your friends say they never argue, they are either lying or they don't have a clue about each other or their relationship. Arguing in the right way is healthy; it's impossible to agree about everything, and if you never argue, you never resolve problems, you just let them fester. I didn't love everything about my husband when I married him -- I still don't -- but he's my best friend, a great father, loyal and supportive, and I doubt I could ever find anyone that I would love as much as I do him -- even if he's never on time and doesn't clean up after himself. ;-) Karen

I am sure you will get tons of responses so I will be brief. YEs, it is totally normal to have jitters. And no, you will NEVER love everything about your partner. That is unrealistic. I think the challenge and one of the joys of marriage is learning how to deal with those things you don't love. My husband and I went to counseling before we got engaged, before we got married, and after we got married for a tune up. It takes skills and patience to face all the issues that you have to deal with in marriage and we found that a little couples counseling can go a long way. Good luck! Elizabeth

If you are feeling unsure, put off the wedding while you do some research. Read some books about choosing a mate and keeping a relationship going strong. Involve your financee. Maybe premarital counseling would be good, too. You can get several books for the cost of one session, with different aproaches and points of view, but having someone help works better for some people. Good luck! Ento

Actually I think you're ''reality-based'' love is pretty usual (and quite healthy) for a couple who has bee living together for a while before tying the knot (after all you actually know him 24/7 - you're not just dating!) . The question is - can you live with the WORST of what you know? Cause you may evolve together or separately, but he (or you) are unlikely to become totally different than what either of you are now. I know that when my husband rather surprised me by wanting to get married (we'd been living together for a few years) I took time to ask myself ''can I love him for a lifetime DESPITE what I know about him that I really don't like? The answer was yes... and its now been 23 years (almost 17 married). We still have times that what we don't like about each other gets rather difficult to live with (we probably should try counseling but he's not the type to go to a third person...) but we always have a core of why we got together to begin with (we're best friends, similar attitudes toward money, monogamy, and family, mutual interests/hobbies, and a deep belief that even if sometimes our relationship is rocky that we are truly meant for each other - and yes we love each other and still can feel the pull of being in love as well). And, I do believe that couples counseling would be a good idea before you get married. I've admired friends who go to counseling for ''tune-ups'' BEFORE their relationship is rocky. anonymous