She Said, He Said: Nuptials on pause for pandemic? Take the time to ask hard questions
She Said, He Said
Dear Lori and Jeff,
My fiance and I had decided to get married this summer but because of the pandemic, we’ve been forced to postpone the wedding. The process of rescheduling has been frustrating but manageable. However, now with the delay, my fiance has gotten cold feet. He said maybe this was a sign that we weren’t “supposed” to get married. It seems like he’s just looking for a way out. What should I do?
COVID’s Ruining My Wedding
Lori and Jeff: We’ve heard from several couples (and know some personally) who’ve had to postpone their weddings because of the pandemic. All of them are understandably disappointed, but the delay in your wedding could be a blessing in disguise by giving you an opportunity to build a stronger foundation in your relationship.
Lori: You should listen. It can be really scary to invite conversations when we’re not sure we want to hear the truth. But by categorizing his experience as “cold feet” you’re shutting down any dialog about real concerns he may be having about the relationship. It may very well be that he’s just experiencing normal jitters about lifelong commitment. But it also could be true that he has trepidation about committing to you. The only way you’ll find out is to be brave, ask the hard questions, and have the courage to hear what he has to say.
It might be helpful to do a little soul searching ahead of time. Reflect back on interactions you’ve had in the past, and ask yourself if he has ever given you feedback or shared feelings that you’ve dismissed. Are there things he had said were a problem for him that you became defensive about, denied or justified? If you answer yes to any of these, be willing to own up to it. Let him know that you acknowledge your mistakes and are doing the work to be more open to his feelings and needs. If, on the other hand, you believe you have been responsive to his needs, then you’ll want to know now if you’re not what he wants for a wife.
Jeff: While getting married can be one of the most exciting and beautiful experiences in a person’s life, it also can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming, often opening the door to lingering doubt and uncertainty. Words like “’til death do you part” and “forever” can, at the very least, create questions about whether you’re making the right decision. If you asked 100 married couples what they would have done if they had been given a “way out” a few months before their wedding, I can imagine that more than a few would say they might have, at least, considered acting on it. I’m not saying it’s OK for your fiance to be using the delay of your wedding as an easy way out. If he has doubts about getting married — or about marrying you — he should be taking a serious look at his intentions and taking ownership of his choices.
In the best-case scenario, his experience of “cold feet” is just a result of an unexpected moment of reprise in the stressful process of planning a wedding. Once he has some time to reassess his situation, he’ll most likely see other signs that let him know you were truly meant to be together.
Lori and Jeff: It’s not uncommon for approaching nuptials to create anxiety. Many couples move through the stages of relationships with an inertia that can make a wedding feel like it has suddenly arrived. Pausing, whether self-prescribed or as the result of external forces like COVID, can create an important opportunity for you to become more clear of your “why” for getting married. Whether by simply talking to each other, reading books together, or seeing a counselor or coach, take some initiative in this process. This is a commitment you both want to walk into with full awareness and clarity.
Lori and Jeff are married, licensed psychotherapists and couple-to-couple coaches at Aspen Relationship Institute. Submit your relationship questions to info@AspenRelationshipCoaching.com and your query may be selected for a future column. For more relationship advice, subscribe to our “Love Matters” podcast on iTunes.
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