Most people talk about pre-wedding jitters as if they should simply be ignored, but how do you know when it is actually a good idea to postpone or call off a wedding? Unfortunately, it's often difficult to tell the difference between normal jitters and serious red flags. Here's a brief guide to help you sort through the nerves:
First and foremost, if you are being abused by your partner, this is a major problem. I am not just talking about physical violence; emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical injuries, and many times harder to recognize. If your partner has ever hit you, is condescending or disrespectful toward you, if he or she attempts to control you or isolate you, you are at least at risk. Do not assume that it will get better after the wedding, or after you have a child; in fact, abuse tends to get worse after these kinds of transitions. If your partner indicates willingness to work on these behavior patterns, do so before the wedding. If you are not sure whether this applies to you, talk to a professional counselor or call a domestic violence hotline to talk about it.
Have you talked through your "deal-breakers?" If there are things that you are unwilling to live without, that your partner is unwilling to live with (or vice versa), it is probably not a good idea to move forward. As painful as it may be, you cannot count on your partner changing his or her mind.
If you fear you might be getting married just because you've been together so long, or because someone is pregnant, because you "should," or because you feel pressured by friends or family, this is another sign it might be a good idea to pause. ‘Because' isn't much to hang onto when you are working at your marriage every day for the next decade, and it is never a good idea to make a commitment when you aren't committed to it. It may initially hurt your partner's feelings, but if you are able to talk honestly about your concerns, this could be a great opportunity to grow closer and stronger as a couple.
If, on the other hand, you're wondering whether you'll really love your partner forever, nervous about handling his parents (or yours), or any number of other worries about the day-to-day jobs of being married, know this: those concerns (or ones like them) will be there for every relationship you will ever have. If you've found the person you're willing to work through them with, don't let your fears deprive you of that joy.
Leah Travis of New Leaf Resources
Leah Travis is a licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFTA) in Illinois and Indiana. She is available to work with pre-marital and newlywed couples at New Leaf Resources, and also does some work coordinating weddings. New Leaf Resources is a nonprofit mental health agency with offices in Lansing, Ill., Crown Point, Ind., and Downers Grove, Ill. There are a number of counselors on staff who specialize in working with couples, as well as individuals, families, children and adolescents.
Phone number: 708.895.7310 or 219.226.1810