Nerves or Concerns?
Consider the following scenario. A girl goes out with a boy for some time, all the while holding him in high regard and developing a good relationship with him without any seeming problems. They appear to be emotionally compatible and aligned in their outlook on life. Nothing significant troubles her. Then somewhat abruptly, as the relationship nears engagement or marriage, she finds all sorts of issues that bother her. It may be that she is bothered by how tall or short he is or what type of clothing he wears, or she may feel unattracted to him or unable to see herself living with such a man. How can one determine if the person’s response and concerns are valid or if it is just a temporary manifestation of cold feet or difficulty committing? First and foremost, prevention is the best medicine. It is assumed that such concerns have arisen after the maturity and readiness of both the boy and the girl have been assessed, proper screening and research has been carried out and no red flags have appeared. If all these areas have been evaluated and definitively approved, then the problems which arise shortly before the engagement or marriage are to be considered with that in mind. If not, those above steps which were not taken before should be taken now.
Often though, as the time approaches for the life decision of marriage to be made, confusion sets in. And it can be very difficult to sort through these thoughts and feelings. Yet one way to rule out that the issue is not related to the person you are dating but more so yourself is by examining the following: When you look into yourself and review your life until this point, how would you describe yourself? Do you feel uneasy when your life is not completely under control? Do you fear making mistakes? It does not always take a perfectionist to feel acute anxiety over making a decision that will last a lifetime, which makes these questions normal and natural for almost anyone. However, if you feel (detected personally or by those you trust) an unreasonable fear or second-guessing of yourself, despite genuinely feeling comfortable with your date or chassan/kallah considering all that you know about them, then it can very well be cold feet, fear of commitment, or a deeper issue in your past. You may have seen an unhappy marriage at home or observed the deterioration of a close relative’s marriage. A poor or betrayed relationship with an attachment figure could as well affect an individual and plague them with nervousness and uncertainty at the juncture of engagement or marriage. The first question to thus ask is: 1) Am I genuinely happy with the person I am dating or engaged to, or are there components of them that I am truly uneasy about? (If you need more time to think about it, don’t rush to get engaged or married. You don’t want to be unhappily stuck in a marriage that you are uncomfortable with. Even if the wedding invitations have already been sent out, the embarrassment and shame from calling it off will dissipate, and people will forget about it sooner than you think). If there are areas of concern, bring them up with someone you trust and only proceed once you are honestly confident and ready to move forward. If the first question is answered with certainty that you are not particularly bothered by anything significant about the person, then proceed to ask: 2) Am I fearful of the unknown future? Am I afraid of a lifetime commitment? Are any past aching experiences still luring in the back of my mind? If the answer is yes to any of these, explore what exactly your fear is and move slowly but surely beyond them. If you are bothered by trivial matters – as determined by you, not someone else – then those concerns should also be taken into account and understood to be much less important in the larger scope of married life. All in all, leading a happy married life begins with you being happy. And that can only happen when you walk down to the chuppa with the feeling that you cannot wait to spend the rest of your life with your chassan/kallah. You may need a little prodding and pushing if what is getting in your way are natural and expected nerves, but be sure that they are actually nerves and not bona fide concerns. If everything sits well with you, then in most cases, you can assume that you will be happy in the future and just need a bit of courage and conviction to get you there.