Saturday, August 14, 2010

Is this cold feet?

I've been to those weddings, albeit few, where I have watched the happy couple and thought, "Yes, forever."
I've been to those weddings where I've thought, "What ARE you doing??"
And I've been to those weddings where the groom has grinned and quipped, "I can always get divorced!"

My parents have been married for over thirty years, and to no one but each other.
My maternal grandparents were married for over fifty years.
My wedding is less than 2 months away.

And still....I don't know how you know.

I know he's been my best friend for the last five and a half years. But I also keep things from him. I have secrets. I hide some things.
I always said I'd rather be alone than settle. I have a few very good role models who prove women can be single and satisfied. That marriage isn't a necessity. Just something you should do if you are in love.

I used to be in love.
But all these people who talk about "OMG at LEAST you'll be MARRIED!" kind of freak me the f out.

Look, I grew up with a woman whose dream it was to own a bridal shop. I've been flipping through bridal magazines since I was old enough to be in picture books. I've been planning my wedding for just as long.

Two months. More like a month and a half.

We've been on and off. I left him once, in California, and went back to Chicago. And I felt so free. And then he followed me. He said, "There's no sunshine when she's gone." But the night before he arrived, I drank a bottle of wine and listened to the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Maps over and over again and cried.

He's a good man. A good man is hard to find. He loves me. He is my cheerleader. He's kind hearted and sweet and considerate.

What else could I possibly want?

Is this cold feet? What does cold feet feel like?

What does love feel like?

I ask because I admit that I'm not good at trusting/knowing myself. I've surprised myself quite a few times. I tend to have a terrible gut instinct, despite being a scorpio. I don't trust myself to make the right decision about love and marriage. I can tell you honestly, any decision I've made, I've made because I genuinely care about him and don't want to hurt him. And I realize that sometimes doing things to not hurt someone, in the long run does hurt them. But, c'mon, when you're in that position, how clear cut is it all?


Lady, this isn't cold feet.

If you were having cold feet you'd give me a laundry list of all the things that are wrong with him. He slams the door in your face when he's losing an argument, he never does the dishes, he forgets to ask "How was your day?" Etc. You'd be trying to talk yourself out of marrying him.

But you're trying to talk yourself into it. You have nothing but good things to say about the guy, and you're asking me "What does love feel like?"

I know this is EXACTLY what you don't want to hear, but you'll know when it's love. You will. There's nothing wrong with your gut.

(Image via just because)


  1. DON'T DO IT. reading your letter made my palms sweat and my chest collapse.

  2. Yeah, when you're asking, "What else could I possibly want?" the answer is generally "something else." ESB's advice is spot-on.

  3. from one scorpio to another... DO NOT MARRY THIS PERSON. yes, he sounds all kinds of awesome, but that is no reason to marry anyone.

    my husband is far from perfect. i am far from perfect. BUT, we are perfect for eachother. no doubt about it. THAT is what love feels like... it's unquestionable.

  4. If you're using the words "I used to be in love" I think that's your answer, painful though it may be. My husband and I both had cases of seriously cold tootsies before our wedding but neither of us ever doubted for a second that we love each other. esb is right, cold feet is more like trying to convince yourself that what with all your issues and quirks this must be a bad idea not trying to talk yourself into marrying him because he's a nice, stable guy.

  5. i don't think anyone who has never met you can tell you from one letter what to do... only you know that answer. i dated someone for 5 years that was wonderful, smart, funny and loved the shit out of me, but i knew in my heart i just couldnt commit to him forever. this is how i knew... when i thought about breaking it off with him i felt relieved. really truly relieved. thats not to say i didnt feel terribly sad and guilty and like maybe it was a mistake too, but mostly i felt relieved.

  6. I've been the relationship where I questioned myself, couldn't trust my gut, he was a good guy, we were on our way to getting engaged, etc. I finally ended it.

    Then I met my husband and there was no doubt at all in my gut. I just knew, from the day I met him.

    And when people ask me "how do you know" I don't know what to say other than, you just know.

  7. it really doesn't sound right to me.
    there is no logic behind it, love is just a feeling.

    and yes:
    you will hurt him more by pretending something
    that you are not sure about. that's not respectful and will hurt both.

    be brave and stay truth.
    if you dont trust yourself how could you possibly make such a big promise to someone else.

    be wild and free since you will trust yourself.

  8. When people ask how you know you can stay married forever, I say you don't know you DECIDE. You choose this person and you wake up every day for the rest of your life and choose them all over again.


    When people ask how you know you love someone, well I hate to say it, but if you are asking you probably don't. Because when you are in love you know it, you just do. It isn't rational and logical, it is just a feeling and you just know you want to be with this person.

    And you say you used to be in love so I think you know what that feels like and you don't feel it anymore. And I'm really really sorry that you are going through that. I don't know you and I hate to give advice on something so huge based on one short letter, but I have to agree with everyone, don't get married.

    Marriage is hard enough for people who were crazy, over the moon, couldn't wait, never had a doubt in their mind, nuts over each other on their wedding day. It is painful to break it off now, and I know it will take a lot of courage, but it will be a thousand times worse to split up down the road.

    Good luck to you, I hope everything tuns out okay.

  9. I spent the majority of time in my last long-term relationship doubting whether my boyfriend and I were right for each other. He was a good person, and I loved him, so I felt a lot of guilt for even considering the idea that he might not be right for me. When I'd ask people for advice about relationships, one camp would always tell me that relationships are hard work and entail compromise and that nobody likes everything about their partner. The other camp would tell me that if I had so many doubts, he wasn't the one for me because "when you know, you just know." I thought those people were full of $##% because I had never done anything without doubting it to some extent (school, career, travels, etc) so I gravitated toward the camp that said relationships are hard in order to justify staying in mine.

    It ended anyway eventually, and even then I wasn't sure breaking up had been the right thing to do. But as the immediate pain subsided, the conviction that I had made the right decision grew.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and in a month and a half, I am going to marry someone whom I have no doubts about. Sure, we argue sometimes, but I've never once fundamentally doubted whether I want to be with him. I really never thought I would feel this way about anybody. Like you, I thought I had no gut instincts, but I had just been ignoring them. You have them, too. It just takes practice to listen to them.

  10. I went through something like this recently, and almost got engaged to a guy I constantly had doubts about. Everyones situation is different and your guy sounds a lot more awesome than my ex. But I feel like whatevers in your gut is what's right. I also struggle with a lot of decisions in my life so it was a hard decision to make, but in my gut I felt like I wasn't in love anymore and that this guy couldn't be all there was to life, that there had to be other better chapters in my life to come, so I ended it. I haven't been so happy in years. I've already met other guys who are more well matched to me. Sometimes it's hard to see the other possibilities out there until you try.

  11. Perhaps you could write your fiance a letter, or have a talk about how you really feel, though not neccessarily saying "I want to call it off" - more "Do you want to marry someone that doesn't love you?" It's tough to stop the wedding train, and people will be upset, your fiance will be broken-hearted, for a while. But somewhere out there there's a girl who could really love him, and there's a guy you can really, truly love.

    Oh dear oh dear, such a tough situation. Good luck.

  12. I would not get married to this guy. You sound so sad with your situation and totally alone. Keeping things from your husband to be is definitely a warning sign that you aren't ready to marry this person.
    Cancelling the wedding will be less painful than getting a divorce (not to mention cheaper).
    Read this from APW:

  13. it IS possible to love someone unconditionally, to trust in them fully, and have no doubts. wait for it.

  14. I think that there is a process of grieving for the perceived loss of one's freedom and independence when approaching the wedding, whether or not women are aware of their feelings. One can still deal with their sense of loss, still love their partner, and still get married. It's a matter of communication & being honest with your feelings and fears. But. But. Marriage =/= a cage.

  15. This is a question only you can truly answer. No one can really give an answer based on a few paragraphs. Look inside your heart, the answer is there. Be honest and true to yourself.

  16. Better safe than sorry. I have had two friends divorce in less than 2 yrs of marriage. They went into it feeling that it wasn't what they wanted but were too scared to call it off. If it is this hard to stay connected with him now, imagine how hard it will be down the road with the stress and strain (but also joy!) of children, buying a house... the sadness of losing a job or a loved one. I doubt you would even have written this letter if you didn't already know what you truly want to do.

  17. I kinda wish, without sounding ridiculous, that I could take you for a drink right now. This is the story of my life. I almost went down the same road, after 6 years together, on, off, until I just picked up the phone - like ripping off a bandage - and said, it's not working. (it had to be the phone as I was living overseas at the time). And I got off the phone, cried for a bit, and that wave of relief took over. He got on with his life, he's a big boy (happily married too which I'm so happy for). And I felt RIGHT.

    These responses have been my favourite on ESB ever, you ladies rock. Because yep, you just know. I never wanted to get married, LOVE being a single girl, still wanted to have threesomes and wolf down chemicals in Ibiza, and then bang, I met him and I just knew. It felt right.

    Be strong, put yourself first, you're in our thoughts girl x

  18. You're gut instinct isn't terrible here. Your decision is painful, and I wish I could give you a hug, but you've got to make the decision to make yourself happy here.

    I think you should read this from A Practical Wedding:

    Thinking of you.

  19. I would strongly advise you not to marry him. To echo what other commenters have said, when you know, you know!

    I lived with a sweet, caring man for 4 years, and I always had a little nagging voice that was asking "Is this love? Is this it?" Long story short, I didn't realize that it wasn't until I randomly fell in love with someone else, someone who I am marrying (and love without a doubt) next month.

    Please don't deny yourself the chance to meet someone who leaves you without doubt that you love him and belong together. Good luck!

  20. Please do not be Cath. The girl in the "Cath" video by Death Cab for Cutie video. Watch the video...listen to the lyrics. It seems like you have already decided what you want. Go and get it and don't keep yourself in a situation where you think you're wasting both of your lives. *HUGS*

  21. I'm not even reading everyone's comments because I have positive thoughts for you.

    I was in this same place a while ago. We had been on and off a few times and then, after two years of not dating and two more years of long-distance dating, we decided to move in together... and buy a house together - not at all the same thing as simply living together! STILL, having committed that much, I wasn't ready to get married. I had lots of things to work through, one of them being that I didn't know how I would ever know if he was "the one." After ten years, I would still not call him my best friend (because my bfff knows soooo very much more than he ever will!) and I was terrified of settling because he was the best I could do.

    Something changed in the last two years. He patiently waited; said, "I want nothing more than to marry you but I will wait forever, until you are ready. And if that never happens, I will still be here." There was just too much hype and outside pressure for us to get married! So, I took months and months to work through my issues and finally feel ready.

    It's simple: don't go through with it until you feel ready. And you'll know when that time comes. If he is as great as he sounds, he will understand, and he will wait.

  22. RUN. run far away.

    when it's time to get married, you'll want to so bad it will HURT.

    you may love him. who knows. but you shouldn't marry him until you can't bear not to.

  23. Can you live without him? If the answer is yes, then that is exactly what you should do.

    Would he love you the same if he knew all the things about you that you haven't told him? Tell him everything you have hid from him, and if his feelings towards you change, then his love for you was conditional, which is not a true, lasting, or forgiving kind of love.

    Love is different than lust, don't be fooled into thinking you don't love this man just because there isn't a burning passion between you. You've been together for a long time, so it's natural for that spark, which drives you wild in the first couple years of your relationship, to mellowed out. So many people decide to get married during that early period of being insanely, lustfully, crazily in-love...and then as they mellow out as a couple, they think they're drifting apart or falling out of love when in actuality it's just their love maturing into a calmer state.

    My fiance and I have been together for 5 years, and even though I can't live without him and he without me, we are certainly not stupidly-crazily-passionate with each other like we used to be when we were 19. Does this mean we're not made for each other? No, it just means we're adults now and we don't feel the need to lock ourselves in our room for days gazing into each others eyes in order to communicate our love to one another.

    My heart goes out to you! I hope all works out for you.

  24. First things first: Divorce is not failure. Break ups are not failure. Love is not finite and stable. You can get married and divorced and have had a wonderfully awesome relationship that was great for you and is not a failure because it ended. You can love someone on Tuesday and hate them on Thursday and feel indifferent about them on Sunday and love them again on Tuesday. There is no "gut" feeling, unless we're talking indigestion.

    If he is a good man and he makes you happy and he is your best friend, then maybe you should let that be your guide. If you really feel like you would rather be single because it makes you happy (and not because you have great examples of single women in your life), then maybe that should be your guide.

    You should not decide to do something because everyone else does, because someone has been around for a while and it's too hard to let that person go, because you've paid a deposit, because it's safe and easy, because you have or don't have a gut feeling. You should decide to do something because it is what you want for your life right now or for the near future.

    You can't decide on forever and no one else can define for you what is love...and it's ok if you don't know what love is, even if you never know what it is.

  25. I could have written this post 9 years ago, except that I married the nice guy; 8 years ago we slept in separate rooms, 7 years ago we finally admitted we were better as friends. It was painful, embarassing and permanent - I have to check the "divorced" box all the time. ouch.

    Also, there is a TON more support for brides who call off the wedding than for wives who divorce otherwise "nice" guys. IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS, POSTPONE!

    If he's the one, you'll work through it and you will know, deeply, that it's right. Or more likely you'll feel relived.

    I talked myself into it because I didn't believe that "you just know" - but I didn't believe because I hadn't felt it yet. just wait.

  26. I just recently married my best friend...and I can tell you this:

    If you can live without him, that doesn't mean you should leave him. I COULD live without my husband, but I wouldn't want to. I CHOSE him. My life would not be as full without him, but to say I never questioned our relationship would be silly.....but by the time I decided to marry him I had no doubts. If you are going to marry this man you should feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be doing so. You should KNOW you love him. Just because you don't marry him right NOW doesn't mean you have to break everything off with him. If I were him I would want to wait until I knew the other person was ready....and if he loves you he will postpone until you know whether it's right or not. Don't rush into a marriage if you're not sure....but it's not all or nothing.

  27. At the very least, hold off. Even if it's embarrassing, even if it's devastating. This doesn't sound like cold feet.

    Being independent and a little secretive doesn't preclude being in love with someone and wanting to get married. Feeling like you're being smothered (even in the best possible way) does.

  28. I know what you mean about those magazines. I planned my wedding to the wrong guy for three years. Now I'm planning my wedding to the right guy and it has NOTHING to do with the stuff in those magazines. When you know, you really do know.

  29. I'm with Erin! I had some stuff to work through as well! After 7 years of being together, 6 living together, I started seeing a therapist, and one day, like a bolt from the blue, I thought, 'I want to get married to him!' I waited for it to pass. Didn't. Suddenly all these fears surfaced that I hadn't seen in the light of day because I wasn't "going there". He'll die some day. True. I'll scare him away if I love him too much. Not true. I'll HAVE to break up with him if Fate has decreed someone else for me that I don't know about yet. Not true: I get to choose whom I want. If I want him, that's that. Doubt, fear, etc. can have many sources. But at least postponing the wedding makes sense. I'm so grateful that I didn't push anything before I was clear. I say put it on hold. See a therapist. Find out what's going on. And maybe tell him those secrets. That sounds major.

  30. Is there any way we could get an update eventually? I'm very curious as to what "cold feet" decided to do...

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Interestingly timely and relevant:

  33. I agree with Rachel about holding it off. Why don't you give it some time, maybe even take some time away from one another. Distance will either make your heart grow fonder...or forgetful.

  34. When my fiance proposed to me, I woke up that night crying, "I feel like I'm dying inside." My sister wanted to kick her husband in the groin when he proposed. Ultimately I thought of seeking out professional help. No one talks about those dirty feelings you have, but there is no one way to react. 6 months later I'm getting excited and feeling just like everyone wants me to, but ultimately, I'm always going to be a free spirit. I'm just lucky my man knows his place: he's my anchor, and I won't float too far.

  35. Wow. The realization of what my ex (who I was with for four years and CONVINCED I would about "gut instincts" being totally effing wrong) put me through, to get me where I am's amazing.

    I've had hard times with my fiance. But I have *tried* to second guess myself. And every time, the little voice in my head just starts laughing. Like, you stupid! You've known since you were nervous and lost the first time you ever talked on the phone with him. And he knew it not long after that.

    Worse yet, I've been in recovery from being SO DAMN SURE of something and having it all explode in my face for a long time. But in the long run, the ex did me a favor. That would have ended in divorce and been more painful. He took the right exit. And I'm with the one I know (as does everyone else) I'm meant to be with.

    And that is that.