September 3, 2018

I am Getting Cold Feet About My Marriage: What Should I Do?


Q. My fiancé and I have been engaged for a year and very soon we will be getting married. When he first proposed to me, I was over the moon and very very happy. It was a dream come true to me. However as we are getting closer to the marriage date, I am feeling uncomfortable, unsure and anxious.

I really don’t know what to make of it. My fiancé hasn’t changed in any way but my feelings have changed. I haven’t fallen in love with anyone else, so this feeling is very weird and uncomfortable. Everyone around me seems to be very happy for me and they tell me I am very lucky.

However I am confused and scared. I never thought I would feel this way. Is it normal for a woman to develop cold feet before marriage? Are these feelings just nerves or am I having commitment issues?

 Please advice.

A. Dear Cold Feet,

This is a complicated question because there are many possible reasons why you could be having second thoughts.  

In answer to part of your question, yes, brides (and grooms) do get pre-wedding jitters.  It’s a big step, and in spite of the high rate of divorce, culture and religion tell us that marriage is till death do you part.  We tend to live a long time these days; it’s a big commitment!  

Even without the cultural pressure, marriage is a big step.  

You are entwining your future, emotionally, spiritually, and financially with another person.  You will become a part of his family and he a part of yours.  Marriage is a contract that has real-life ramifications, especially if you divorce.  Probably you will have children together, which means that you will be joined forever, no matter how it works out between the two of you.

O.K. Now I’m scaring myself!  Most people take the big step and survive, so let’s not get carried away.

Here are some questions for you to answer.

  • Did you grow up with divorced parents?  If you did, you will have less faith in the whole institution of marriage and that alone could account for your jitters.  
  • You say your partner hasn’t changed, but were there ever things about him that made you uncomfortable? Sometimes when we’re in love, we minimize troubling characteristics.  As the actual date approaches could you be having more difficulty with some aspects of his character or personality?  
  • Have you truly explored your value systems, goals, ideas about money and children?  
  • Do you like his family?  Does he like yours?  
  • Are you able to maturely handle conflict?

I’m assuming that you knew him for a while before you got engaged and you’ve been engaged for a year, so it doesn’t sound like you’re rushing into anything (good for you!).

But if anything in the above paragraph resonates with you, you need to slow down and make sure you get the information you need. Have you talked to him about your feelings?  This is a good test.  Can you talk to him about something that might hurt him in order to figure things out?  Your decision affects both of you. How he responds to your concerns will tell you a lot about him.

I know it’s a big deal to call off a wedding.  It’s costly and everyone is disappointed.  

But this is your life, and unless you’re sure that this is the marriage you want, better to deal with it now than later.  Everyone will get over it, even your mother, and you will save yourself and him a lot of future heartache.


About Sally LeBoy


Sally Leboy is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, practicing in San Diego County for over 30 years. During this time, she has developed a particular expertise and reputation for working with relationship issues.

In addition to relationship issues, she works with individuals and groups with problems of anxiety, depression, stress, and life transitions.

To know more about Sally Leboy, visit her website

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