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You love your fiancé with all that you have. His feelings about you: ditto. The relationship is grounded in laughter, stimulating conversation, mutual trust, shared values and goals. You like and respect who the other person is and lust after the packaging. In short — the two of you feel perfectly imperfect together. And yet, the wedding is around the corner and you're experiencing those, "Oh my God, am I doing the right thing?" mini-quakes.
Don't panic: This is not a bad thing. Marriage is an enormous step off the diving board. It feels so forever. On the plus side: You've got a permanent Valentine's Day date. On the negative side: You've got a permanent Valentine's Day date!
Talk to your beloved about your doubts. Likely he's having them as well. Share your feelings about what the two of you expect of marriage. Believe it or not, your partner cannot be your everything. It's one thing to finish each other's sentences; another to expect him to make you happy each and every minute for the rest of your lives. That's a burden no one can live up to. You have found a partner, not a parent — know the difference.
While there will be compromises, there should not be the feeling that you are compromising yourself. "I realized my cold feet were telling me that while I was willing to never kiss another man — gulp — I needed to make sure marriage wouldn't mean losing the things that made me feel like my own person," says Karen Butler, 33, and married four years. "I told Dan I needed to know he would be fine about my continuing to go on my annual all-girlfriends weekend. He was, and I agreed the collection of Mickey Mouses from Disneyworld he'd been carting around since childhood would find a place in our home."
Like Karen, Betty Worth feared the changes marriage might bring to her almost four-year relationship. "For the past two years Brad was in grad school 200 miles away and we
just saw each other on weekends. He graduated, moved in with me and we planned a destination wedding with 40 guests two months later," Worth explains.
Three weeks before the biggest day of their lives Betty started "freaking out." The 25-year-old artist continues, "There was so much we hadn't worked out yet — he needed a job, we were still transitioning to adulthood. It felt like we'd be starting marriage and all it stood for with too much stress."
She cancelled the wedding, saying, "It wasn't the person, it was not being ready for this big step. Initially Brad was upset but he came around to agreeing with me. Our guests were also understanding."
The couple is living together and the new date is September 2015. Betty laughs, "The dress is in my mother's closet. We were able to rebook everything — the venue, even the cake person. Since I'm the one who suggested the rescheduling, this time I'm going to propose."
This time when they walk down the aisle the timing will be right. The only flutters in her stomach Betty will be feeling are ones of anticipation.
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.