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Engagement Issues: Dealing With Cold Feet

Not sure you want to go through with the wedding? Is it pre-wedding jitters or a permanent problem? Our guide will help you figure it out.

Photo: Elizabeth Grubb

Got cold feet? Are you experiencing a chilling fear as you realize that you're about to spend the rest of your life with the same person? Don't worry, it happens. Most of the time, this freak-out period just means you're suffering from a case of pre-wedding jitters. (And trust us: You're not alone! Lots of nervous to-be-weds unload on our message boards. Drop by to commiserate and ask advice any time.)

Sometimes, however, these symptoms signify a more serious problem -- and deserve immediate attention. Our guide will help you determine whether you should run right back into the arms of your fiance -- or start sprinting in the opposite direction.

Pre-Wedding Jitters: Reasons NOT to Call it Off

Feeling Un-Frisky?
Relax. This temporary lull in your sex life is not an indication that you're destined for a lifetime of bedroom boredom. Rather, it's probably a reaction to stress. (Let's face it -- fussing with florists, favors, and first dance songs are not exactly aphrodisiacs.) It's totally natural and is no indication of the road ahead. Just you wait -- that honeymoon will heat things up again!

The Ex Factor
Your fiance's ex keeps coming up like a bad meal, and suddenly you're feeling threatened, like maybe he/she really still carries a torch. Don't do anything drastic. Share your feelings with your spouse-to-be in a non-confrontational way. Take a romantic weekend getaway to reconnect -- and prove your love for one another all over again.

It's normal to feel especially sensitive on your way to the altar.

Fed Up Forever?
Is she or he getting on your nerves? Do you suddenly have a low threshold for that messy desk, those unwashed dishes, or that loud sneezing? It's okay. The engagement period is not always happy camping -- pre-wedding stress can make you more irritable, impatient, and easily annoyed. If, out of the blue, his or her friends start bugging you and those habits are driving you berserk, take a deep breath. Recognize that you're extra moody -- and do your best to keep things in perspective.

Pre-Party Panic
Two weeks before the big bash, you find that you're panicked -- you're sweating, shaking, losing sleep, and not eating. While this is not healthy, it is normal. You're about to make a commitment for the rest of your life and you're staring that notion right in the eye. Try your best to relax and be healthy. Your nerves will eventually return to a normal state.

Pet Peeves
You love dogs, your sweetie hates 'em. How are you supposed to have the life you want without a furry friend to have and to hold? Or perhaps you're peeved that your to-be's cats (and litter box) need to be a part of your new home together. No matter what the issue, merging your lives is not always smooth sailing. These differences are usually not worth ending the engagement. Realize that compromises are necessary -- give a little and you'll find that you get a lot.

Permanent Problem: Reasons TO Call it Off

On a more serious note, there are relationship problems that lie beyond the world of pre-wedding nerves, peeves, and irritations. If you find yourself facing any of these issues, please do yourself a favor and take steps immediately -- confront the problem head on, consult with family or friends, and/or seek professional help (either individually or together). Prepare a plan of action. Postpone the wedding -- or call it off if the problem seems beyond repair.

Big Reasons to Seek Help or Call it Off:

  • Abuse: physical or emotional
  • Addiction: drugs, alcohol, or gambling
  • Serious family issues: parental disapproval or discordance
  • Sex: unpleasant or hurtful
  • Betrayal: cheating, stealing, or dishonesty
  • Religion: conflicting beliefs that cannot be resolved
  • Offspring: different plans for having children
  • Spending money: opposing attitudes/philosophy
  • Sexual orientation: your partner's preferences are different from what you were led to believe

-- Julie Komorn

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