Is this cold feet or something else entirely?
November 27, 2015 7:23 AM   Subscribe

My fiancee is wonderful, everyone is excited for us, and I think I'm miserable. Please help me figure out what is going on with me, and/or tell me I need to get professional help.

My smart, talented fiancee is all around a really good person. He's kind and loves me and we get along well. We have similar education backgrounds and are both very fiscally responsible. He loves me as much as my parents do, I think. I feel very comfortable around him and I still like hanging out with him. My parents love him and his parents love me. Everyone is so so happy about the wedding. We are both in our mid to late 30s. He definitely wants children. I used to, and am now more on the fence. We disagree and argue rarely, but always respectfully. We have been dating for eight years.

And I think I'm happy? When he proposed, I burst out crying - but not happy tears. Instead, I was panicked. I keep putting off planning the wedding because I say it stresses me out, and it does, but it also it gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I have dreams when I'm at the altar, and instead of being happy, I'm terrified. I also have dreams where we have a baby and I am distraught. A few months ago, he asked me if I really wanted to be together, and I said of course I did, that I love him, and I do, but I also thought how I felt panicky and very sad.

The sex is mediocre, I guess, but I think I can live with that. Sometimes it's work to keep conversations going - there have been times where I tried not initiating conversations over dinner to see what happens, and we spend most of the time in silence. Telephone conversations are hard because I end up doing most of the work. I've tried to talk about these, but things don't get better. I have never liked romantic scenes on TV or reading about them, but now I just feel jaded when I see them.

But really, my complaints seem so trivial, and they make me guilty. Sometimes I think I won't be happy marrying anyone, because maybe I have unrealistic expectations, so I might as well make him, and our families, happy. And I am also worried that I am not sure if I would ever find someone else who is better matched, at least on paper. Overall, I am content. I worry sometimes I am seeking perfection.

I need guidance. Does it sound like I need therapy? Maybe I am depressed? Would couples therapy work? Is this just normal cold feet? Can things get better? Am I just a terrible person, as I fear? Even writing this all out makes me feel awful, like I am betraying this wonderful person, but also I can't keep us on in this limbo.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Just because you theoretically think somebody is great doesn't mean you two are supposed to be together. End it now. You should not be miserable around your partner all the time and things will only get worse. End it for the both of you. Just because things look good on paper doesn't mean that in the real world things are ok. End it, end it, end it.
posted by djinn dandy at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2015 [12 favorites]

You are getting married because everyone expects you to. Don't do that. You should call off the wedding and tell everyone you're not ready. Maybe you'll wind up marrying him, maybe not (I'm guessing not, if you're honest with yourself, but that's a call only you can make), but it is vital not to go through with it gritting your teeth. Don't get married unless and until you're truly happy and excited about it.
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on November 27, 2015 [36 favorites]

You left out any mention of being physically attracted to him and are lukewarm on the sex. I very much recommend taking this criteria extremely seriously.
posted by alusru at 7:32 AM on November 27, 2015 [18 favorites]

There are lots of wonderful people in the world. That doesn't mean you should just randomly marry one of them because they're great.

You have very little chemistry or connection with this person, you've had 8 years to see if that problem will resolve, 8 years to develop a "hell yes" response to the idea of being with this person forever. It's not coming.

It's real likely there's someone out there who will love and appreciate him better than you do, and you're the thing keeping him from finding it. You deserve better too, and it's not going to happen if you stay.

This doesn't sound like normal cold feet to me. Your feet have been cold from the start, and that's not really how that normally manifests.

Couples therapy can help communication problems if both people enthusiastically participate. It can't fix a relationship that's a bad match, though. It can't force a fit or make you more compatible with each other.

You might consider going to therapy for yourself, though. It takes a pretty firm bit of determination to stay in a meh relationship for that long, and you are likely hiding some stuff from yourself. That stuff doesn't sleep quietly, it'll keep fucking up your life until you deal with it.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:35 AM on November 27, 2015 [60 favorites]

Run, do not walk, to therapy!

FWIW, it sounds like you don't love him that way that you should. Could you if he wasn't phoning it in? It sounds like he's just phoning it in. You can't have children with a mediocre sex life and unfulfilling communication.

Probably some couples therapy is in order because you'll have to get the skills to talk to each other....

If all of that sounds like too much work for something you don't want, YES, find a way to break up ASAP. If the thought of more work and therapy fills you with dread, end the engagement and start dating again. Rebuild your life into something that does not fill you with tears.

I wish you all the success and true happiness in the world. You deserve the partnership you want. Get a make-over for the one you have, or find a new partnership. Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 7:35 AM on November 27, 2015

Do not get married because you can't come up with a good enough reason not to. That's what I did, and I was got away 6 years later with the scars to show for it.
posted by PMdixon at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2015 [11 favorites]

Therapy will probably help, but I think what Lyn Never said above is right. There are lots of awesome people in the world that you don't need to marry. You should marry someone who you are totally head over heels in love with, who you are sexually attracted to, and who makes you happy. Needs to be all three.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:59 AM on November 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh - I'm so sorry, I really feel for you, I truly do. You're in quite the dilemma.

The truth is, you're going to get a varying degree of responses here because we're all essentially strangers and no one know the real ins and outs of what is going on in your life and your relationship.

The things that stand out to me in your question though, are just simple things.

You write explicitly that you are "miserable". Then you ask "I think I am happy?" You use words like "panicked" and "sad" and honestly, speaking as someone who has recently been engaged, planned a wedding and got married, I think you guys shouldn't get married. You don't necessarily need to break up immediately, but the wedding can wait.

There are reasons to be with someone and length of time dating, or the fact that your parents both love you guys together, are not valid reasons to stay with someone - honestly.

Your complaints are not trivial at all. The kids thing needs to be discussed in more depth though, because if he really wants kids and you're thinking that you probably don't, well, that could be a big deal breaker - especially if you have a child somewhat reluctantly.

I have a feeling that you are both just coasting along together. You can get married sure, but the dynamics won't change - you'll still feel as if something is missing..... then maybe one day you'll meet someone who makes you laugh, someone you can talk properly to, someone who makes you feel things you haven't felt in a long time and possibly you'll slip.

Lives are LONG nowadays. Marriage is not the be all or end all (and I just got married haha!). There's no doubt that you both love each other, but are you both happy? I don't know - it really is a minefield. Whatever you choose to do, please know that you will eventually be fine if you do call the wedding off. People will be disappointed (Unavoidable) but the fallout will be much easier to deal with than a collapsed marriage.

Good luck, and hugs.
posted by JenThePro at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2015 [11 favorites]

If you are not thrilled to marry (not "have a wedding with") someone...don't. I know that sounds facile but after 21 years of marriage I have to say it's what's there -- sometimes way buried -- when the rest of life is lousy.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:07 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

You don't love him. Therapy will not fix this. You need to break up. He will be hurt, but with all his good qualities, he will find someone else soon enough. You will be doing him a favour to get out now. You will survive, and he will survive, and after a manageable amount of fuss and logistical inconvenience it will be in the past and you can move on.
posted by Grunyon at 8:07 AM on November 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

tell him how you feel & if you need a counselor present to do so, that's ok. Relationships wax and wane. It can be good to share you feel like things are stagnant/not right at the moment & hear what your partner thinks. Maybe he is actually in the same place.
posted by CMcG at 8:18 AM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do not marry this person!

You are not a terrible person. Sometimes it just doesn't quite work. And someone does not have to be an asshole for you to feel like it's okay to walk away. Your doubts and feelings are real and should be respected. I understand that you want something more concrete that "I don't feel good about it" but you don't need it.
posted by O9scar at 8:35 AM on November 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

You don't have to get married. It doesn't matter if your fiance is a really nice guy - you don't have to marry him if you don't want to. You're not crazy and you're not an asshole.
posted by sutel at 8:39 AM on November 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've said this here before about marriage- If it's not "Hell Yes!!" then it's hell no. My great-grandmother told me that and now that I'm on my second marriage, I know that she was right.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:52 AM on November 27, 2015 [32 favorites]

Do you want to marry him?
posted by Mr. Justice at 8:56 AM on November 27, 2015

I dunno..just because you found a wonderful human being that you love (and who loves you back) doesn't necessarily mean you are automatically compatible.

would seriously ask - your way of loving him - is this the way that you would want to be loved? And how would you feel, if the person you're thinking about marrying was in this much of a low place? It seems kind of heartbreaking.

The truest, kind of more sombre thing anyone told me about getting married (before I did) was that the person you marry, and all their minor, irritating character traits, bad habits etc. get roughly 10% worse after you do. While this might not be true of all marriages, its kind of a natural progression of things, and that 10% can be the straw. You really have to keep an eye on that shit.

For me, I'd really take a hard look at the relationship. Because this to me, sounds like what i had with my ex. I mean theres a lot of honor in knuckling down to make it work - but c'mon, if this has been going on for ages with no results in sight..and you aren't even married yet! Love is supposed to make you feel good, it is not just toil and misery.
posted by speakeasy at 8:59 AM on November 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

I was you four years ago. My fiancé was a great guy, we were super compatible, loved each other's families, had the same long term hopes and dreams. Rarely fought. Crummy sex life.

The chemistry was zilch. I called off the engagement right before we went out the save the dates and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I remember being so worried that my friends and family would be sad, like I was letting them down. But they were SUPER supportive. It's the smartest decision I ever made and I immediately felt lighter.

I know it seems like breaking up isn't even an option, but it is.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:05 AM on November 27, 2015 [23 favorites]

I experienced something somewhat similar with my previous partner with whom I was briefly engaged (I explain it a bit here).

"Panic" was also something I felt as the wedding date drew closer: it just felt like my future was somehow going to be a prison. And, like you, it was difficult to identify anything drastically wrong with him or our relationship. It seemed to me like we had "normal problems". But my background dread didn't go away and it reached such an intensity at a certain point that I thought I was going to have a breakdown, and so I sent myself to a therapist to work through my thoughts and feelings.

It took me quite a while to do it (I am TOO LOGICAL and not so good at identifying and understanding my own feelings), but eventually he and I broke up and went our separate ways. But what I am here to recommend to you NOW, is to do something immediately if you cannot figure yourself out: postpone the wedding.

At the very first session, my therapist helped me to see that this was a viable option: I didn't have to decide to marry or not marry with a clock ticking loudly and the weight of other people's expectations bearing down on me. She reminded me that EVERYONE we loved just wanted us to be happy, and they would rather that we didn't get married if that was going to be better for both parties in the long run. I.e., your families would HATE to think that you only married out of some misplaced obligation to them.

It was HARD, but I did it. I "postponed" the wedding. And I can't tell you what a HUGE relief it was to have done it. So please, let me share this gift with you that was given to me under similar circumstances: you can postpone your wedding! And then get thee to therapy!
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2015 [14 favorites]

I felt the same way.... twice. Neither time should have happened. Listen to your heart. It's telling you something very important.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:23 AM on November 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

absolutely postpone or cancel the wedding. this is far beyond jitters or cold feet.

something to consider about your anxiety and the examples you use in your post - a lot of the things seem to be emotional labor type stuff. it seems like you (rightly, imo) suspect that your partner isn't going to pull his share and this manifests if you having to direct conversations and keep things going and accepting a not very fulfilling sex life, which leads to a worry that he will similarly not do his part with being a husband or a father. you aren't crazy for having this fear. this is a very real thing. you don't have to settle for this.
posted by nadawi at 9:28 AM on November 27, 2015 [10 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you are in love with him. If the best thing you can say is that "I feel very comfortable around him", then you shouldn't marry him.

You're definitely not a terrible person for having doubts. You're also not a bad person for not loving him. It's nobody's fault. But it would be a bad action if you knowingly married a good person that you weren't in love with, just because you didn't want to disappoint other people.
posted by barnoley at 9:36 AM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hope reading this Dear Sugar column helps.
posted by foxjacket at 9:40 AM on November 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

I've linked to this tons but it really changed how I think about relationships: Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay. It will help you figure out what you need from a relationship and if you're getting those needs met. Having survived the breakup of a very longterm relationship (after the wedding, sadly) with someone who I loved massively but there were reasons it had to end I can tell you that it will be hard on many levels, but also that people will be more supportive than you ever thought they would be because they just want you to be happy. And you will be happier than you thought possible with someone who lights you up in a way that your partner doesn't. You'll be ok and so will he. Good luck.
posted by billiebee at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2015 [10 favorites]

A few months ago, he asked me if I really wanted to be together, and I said of course I did, that I love him, and I do, but I also thought how I felt panicky and very sad.

He sensed that you weren't enthusiastic, but you weren't able to give him an honest answer about your feelings. It seems to me that you are exerting yourself to present the face that other people want to see. You've wound yourself up in a web of polite lies, and there's some truth inside you that's struggling to come out.

I don't think that his parents liking your parents is going to be a big factor in marital success. Being able to understand each other and love and cherish each other is what is important to me in a marital partnership. I think my husband is better than other men -- not taller, not richer, not more impressive, but better. And by better I mean kinder, more thoughtful, more empathetic, more awesome. I couldn't marry someone who didn't move my heart and my body in powerful ways. But I'm not you. Still, I want you to have a very happy life, even if you end up having an unconventional one.
posted by puddledork at 10:03 AM on November 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

I felt the same way.... twice. Neither time should have happened. Listen to your heart. It's telling you something very important.

For the flip side of this, neither did happen and looking back, I have zero regrets, even as a single 50-year old.

He deserves someone who can give him 100% of her heart, but you also deserve to have someone you can give that to.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:08 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think your expectations are unrealistic at all. Having fun, comfortable, flowing conversation and good sex are not wacky expectations for one's spouse or partner. I'll recommend doing something my best friend advised when I was contemplating leaving my first husband: make a list of pros and cons. Include everything; it's only for you. (To be sure of that last bit, write on paper, and burn when you are finished with it). If it doesn't make things very clear to you, just postpone the wedding, and work things out further with a therapist. For me, it was not only clear, it was so clear it rang like a cathedral bell.

I've been with my now-husband for over 25 years, and am so grateful every single day for him, and so grateful for that list, and my smart, smart friend.
posted by taz at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2015 [11 favorites]

Oh, I feel for you. You are NOT a terrible person. Your feelings are valid.

You should start talking to a therapist, not in order to talk yourself into committing to this relationship/marriage, but to better understand where these feelings are coming from. You may or may not end up staying with this guy (though my guess is you won't), but if you don't clarify why you feel this way before getting married, you're signing up for divorce down the road.

More generally: you do not have to be miserable to keep someone else comfortable. You're the only person who can save yourself. Your heart and mind are trying to push something important to the forefront. It's easier not to focus on it, because the truth can be painful, but if you can listen to yourself now, no matter how terrible, you will save yourself pain down the road. This is, among other things, a chance to do a great kindness for future you.

(This year I broke up with a really long-term, headed for marriage partner for not-dissimilar reasons. Memail if you want to. If you are inclined to find comfort in such things, you might find this Mary Oliver poem interesting.)
posted by superfluousm at 10:40 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

It doesn't matter why. You don't want to marry him, so don't. I had a guy like this. Among other problems in our relationship was the fact that he was totally unready to have kids. He's now married to a lovely woman and father to two kids she brought into the marriage and one they had together. Having the kids already there got him past the mental block he had against having children, which would never have happened had he and I stayed together. He's still one of the best guys I know, but he wasn't the best guy for me. I don't regret breaking up with him at all even though I'm single at 41.
posted by MsMolly at 10:53 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

The first guy I was engaged to, I felt like that. I think my answer to the proposal was even "I guess" although I remember trying to make it a joke. We never got married.

The second guy I was engaged to, I was excited about it from the start. I never really had any doubts. It felt right.

We've only been married a year and a half but I think I made the right choice.
posted by cabingirl at 11:12 AM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you're stressed out, and your reaction isn't to move closer to him and lean on him, then it's not going to work. You shouldn't marry this person.
posted by disconnect at 11:17 AM on November 27, 2015 [11 favorites]

He sounds like a great guy that probably isn't the right guy for you.

I've had those panicky feelings before. I remember explicitly one time when I was at a boyfriend's house after about three months of dating - we were just hanging out and I went into to the bathroom and suddenly just thought we should break up with this total trapped panicked feeling. I quickly buried it and kept supressing it for another nine months until I finally realised that we really weren't right for each other. Breaking up was absolutely awful but it was the right thing to do, and now we're both happily married to other people.

Definitely don't talk yourself into a marriage - you should want to run towards being married. Anything else isn't giving you or your fiancé what they deserve.
posted by ukdanae at 11:45 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Along with postponing the wedding and therapy, would a temporary break help? Three to six months where, even if you're already living together and have to stay that way, you both pretend your single. He's your roommate. Do your own things, your own hobbies, talk with friends. Gently remove the emotional supports and break out of the sexual pressures. You do not have to date others, and you do not have to mention this to family, if that would add extra stress.

This would presume he's okay with it (and he fairly might not be), but I've seen a good friend go through this process and after it felt much more comfortable with A) being on her own and B) understanding where her feelings with her partner lay, and was able to make a healthy and realistic decision.

Alternatively, just toying with this idea might make something clear - does the idea of being without him for six months make you terrifically sad? Or does it fill you with a quiet relief?
posted by blue_and_bronze at 11:59 AM on November 27, 2015

Your feelings are trying to tell you something and you need to listen to them. Don't get married. Get therapy, sure, especially if no one else in your life can listen to your fears without pooh-poohing them and telling you you're being irrational. You don't have to break up, but from your description, there's not much reason to stay.

Your feelings are not trivial. You are deciding whether to spend your life with someone...of COURSE your feelings count! They're the thing that counts most!

Marriage is not something you have to do, with anyone. Ever. You can live the rest of your life happily single and your life can be a good one. I tell you this in case that's what's holding you back. It's not a box you have to check. Anymore than climbing Everest, or going to Spain, or anything else would be. It's your life. Only you can decide what it looks like. Other people can mind their own lives however they want; this one is yours, only yours. It's the only one you get. Don't waste it in dead relationships that make you cry.
posted by emjaybee at 12:27 PM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've never been in this situation so take this with a grain of salt. But you sound like you don't want to be married to this man. You say things like "the sex is mediocre, I guess, but I think I can live with that." and "my complaints seem so trivial they make me feel guilty."

Sure you can live with mediocre sex and conversation, but is that really what you want? Or are you afraid you won't be able to find someone that suits you better? Also the differing opinion on kids is a huge reason not to get married at this time. You should be on the same page with that before you get married, and that's probably a lot of reason for the cold feet as well.

"Sometimes I think I won't be happy marrying anyone, because maybe I have unrealistic expectations, so I might as well make him, and our families, happy." This makes it sound like you're settling. If your fiance felt the same way about marrying you, would you want him to get married to you?

Maybe you left it out for the sake of length, but there's nothing in there about why you want to marry him that has to do with your feelings for him. It's all about obligations and your families and how much you "should" want to marry him. You're not a terrible person if you decide he isn't the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.

I think you should see one of those pre-marriage counselors that are supposed to help figure out if you should really get married or not. If it's an option, maybe see them alone at first if you feel too guilty about discussing your doubts with him. But I personally think if you're going to be getting married, you should be able to discuss your doubts with him. Make sure it's the best decision for you both.
posted by Autumn at 12:28 PM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some helpful questions to explore here, possibly with a therapist:

What do YOU want out of this relationship?
What are your expectations of marriage? What are his? Do they fit together?
What does being married mean to you?
If your family, or his, were against you being together, would that change how you feel about the situation?
If no one had any opinion either way, would that change how you feel?
If you two broke up, would you be devastated?

Please remember that just because he is a good guy, and your relationship is healthy, that doesn't mean it's the right relationship for you.
posted by ananci at 12:35 PM on November 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I felt this way about six months ago. I started by talking to my partner and telling him how dissatisfied I felt with our life together (he was shocked. He had been planning a proposal). I felt like everything in our life was on me to solve, like he wasn't carrying his own weight, like I couldn't rely on him to be a partner and like we didn't even have the same values... Then I got counseling and started working out: how do I really feel? What do I really want, what's missing and giving me this anxiety?

I started pursuing some interests of my own. Time with friends, extra effort put in to learning interesting topics and finding time and people to discuss them with. And the counselor helped me learn how to talk to my partner about issues in a way that inspired him to fix them. Solving problems together is now my favorite thing about this relationship, I love the way his mind works and how we work together, and we are having so much fun planning a wedding and shopping for a house now.

It could as well have gone the other way, if he hadn't been able or willing to make the changes or if he had opposed me making the changes I needed. But counseling and postponing the wedding aren't necessarily preludes to a break-up. They can also be learning how to live the life you need and ask for what you want and not have unreasonable expectations of magic instant fulfillment.

I really strongly think you would benefit from counseling here, in short, and from some guided help in figuring out why you're feeling this way.
posted by Lady Li at 1:34 PM on November 27, 2015 [15 favorites]

Hi, me ten years ago. Don't marry him.
posted by corvine at 2:14 PM on November 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

But really, my complaints seem so trivial, and they make me guilty. Sometimes I think I won't be happy marrying anyone, because maybe I have unrealistic expectations, so I might as well make him, and our families, happy. And I am also worried that I am not sure if I would ever find someone else who is better matched, at least on paper. Overall, I am content. I worry sometimes I am seeking perfection.

The person you choose to spend the rest of your life with is not a trivial matter. You're feeling this way because you know he's not the right person for you, regardless of how lovely he is. It's better to be uncoupled with 'unrealistic expectations', than with someone who doesn't meet those expectations - you'll never find out if they can be realistic with someone else.

But nothing you're saying here, that you want and need (a satisfying sex life, fulfilling conversation) sounds remotely unrealistic to me. They are basics for a good relationship.
posted by NatalieWood at 3:39 PM on November 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hi, me five years ago. Don't marry him.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:46 PM on November 27, 2015 [9 favorites]

(I could have written this post almost exactly, then I married her, and it ended in a dramatic divorce before 2 years were up. Only after that drama had passed could I tell how bad of a decision that marriage really was. Spare yourself that: it will feel right sooner than you think.)
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:50 PM on November 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hi, me 15 years ago. Don't marry him.
posted by Pax at 4:29 PM on November 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

I married the lovely guy that I wasn't in love with because it was the next step (looking back, that seems crazy, as I was only 25 when we got engaged). I left him within a year and I very much regret putting him, myself and our families through the wedding and divorce, and mostly I regret that I really did know before I married him that I shouldn't have. The momentum of approving (enthusiastic!) families, the on-paper compatibility, the friendship - it's confusing. But you know the truth.

Good luck to you.
posted by Pax at 4:32 PM on November 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Sounds to me like this guy is a bunch of stuff that's Okay, and Not Wrong. Most of us want and need someone who is a bunch of stuff that is Absolutely Right to offset some of the less-desirable stuff.

This guy sounds like the equivalent of ordering a grilled chicken caesar salad for dinner. It'll be... okay. And it's pretty reliable. And it's never going to make you want to sing.

Perhaps the question that would be effective for you is "How long can I actually handle feeling like this, and how long would I like my marriage to last?"

It doesn't sound to me like those answers are in alignment, and never really will be.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:42 PM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

This does not sound like normal cold feet to me. I think your emotions are sending ypu powerful, clear messages about how you would feel about joining your life with tbis person. I see no reason to discount them.

When I got married, sure I was anxious, but underneath I knew the ground was solid. I never had feelings like what you describe
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:34 AM on November 28, 2015

Check out the Conscious Transitions website and forums, especially the articles about the marriage transition. Our culture sells us a vision of engagement that totally ignores the fact that it's a very real major life change and will have attendant feelings that aren't all roses and butterflies.

The attitude so many people have ("if you have doubts, it means you should get out") can be shortsighted, and miss the fact that it's normal to have doubts, to question, to be worried and afraid. Maybe you'll marry this guy, and maybe you won't. There will be pros and cons to each. But you shouldn't feel like you're crazy or weird because this isn't the "happiest time of your life" or because you panicked and felt stressed about the wedding. The part of you that says, "Maybe I'm seeking perfection"… might be right! There is no perfect person-- there are a lot of great people, and the work you both do to become each other's soul mates is what makes the person great. As Dan Savage says, "There's no such thing as 'the one.' There are a series of .8's, and at some point you decide to round up."
posted by airguitar2 at 10:31 AM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hi, me 7 years ago. Don't marry him.
posted by a strong female character at 5:44 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Your relationship may last another 10 or15 years but it will probably fail at the worst possible time. That churning feeling in your gut? IT NEVER COMPLETELY GOES AWAY.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:50 PM on November 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

Maybe we can make the criteria for determining your answer even simpler:

If you feel compelled to anonymously ask strangers on the internet to give you permission to not marry someone, then you really shouldn't marry him.
posted by Sublimity at 8:11 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

OK, that was kind of flip. Here's a little bit meatier of an answer.

I'm sure all the things that are great about your fiancee are truly wonderful. But the things that aren't working for you are really, actually problematic.

Relationships don't last on the strength of how great the good times are. Relationships last because the two of you figure out ways to get through the tough parts at least reasonably well--and ideally, use problem-solving to alchemize difficulties into strengths.

You two have been together 8 years. That's enough time to see that the making-the-tough-stuff-better isn't working. A big waving red flag is that you are working very, very hard to try to convince yourself that your hurts and emptiness don't matter. This is a losing proposition and is not sustainable in the long run. It is NOT a small deal to feel like there is emptiness between you if you aren't doing the work to fill it. It is NOT a small deal to feel like the sex is pretty lousy. It is NOT a small deal if you've tried to articulate these things and you partner doesn't really respond.

It is actually a really, really BIG deal that your partner is asking you direct questions and you are not giving him truthful answers--you are lying by omission to leave out the stuff about feeling panicky and sad. If you don't get that difficult stuff out between the two of you, there's no way to address it, right? Have you given up trying to get it addressed? Or did you never really put that kind of thing out there in the first place?
posted by Sublimity at 8:22 PM on November 28, 2015 [8 favorites]

Hi, me 17 years ago. Please don't marry him. Don't end up like me.
posted by puppet du sock at 9:44 PM on November 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Your post describes my own feelings 15 years ago better than I ever have.

I married my best friend because she was the one person who didn't break up with me, because my family loves her, and because I absolutely couldn't do such a horrible thing as break up with someone who was ostensibly the most important person in my life.

None of these things had anything to do with what I wanted, and being young and oblivious to my inner self, nor did I even understand what it was I really did want. Nonetheless, I married her because breaking up was far more terrifying than convincing myself that my desire for physical chemistry was superficial and stupid, and because I comforted myself with a hope that things would get better.

A few years later, that inner voice shouted at me again when she asked if I wanted children. Again, I ignored it. Even though it was louder and more insistent, divorce was now an even more unacceptable alternative to me. How could I hurt my partner in life? She isn't perfect, but she doesn't deserve to be kicked to the curb, especially after showing me such kindness and dedication, and already suffering so much at the hands of men. How could I let our families down? What kind of monster would do such a thing to her, and to them?

Some people can carry their unhappiness to their grave. I discovered that I am not one of those people. The volcano finally erupted eight years after the birth of our daughter. I separated from her and have been in therapy for over four years, and I am just now beginning to understand how my insecurity and codependence, not to mention the lies I told myself about my inner truth, have undermined a relationship that should have ended a decade ago. A relationship that could have been absolutely wonderful for someone who was not me. Someone who I deprived her of because I attempted to live a lie.

Know yourself. Be true to to the person you know you are, not who you think you should be for the sake of anyone else. You may think you're being kind by navigating around pain, but you're not.
posted by quoth_the_raven at 4:28 PM on November 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

Stop right there!! This is not just cold feet!! Never marry someone you don't absolutely want to marry! We live in a time and a place where you don't have to do that!

We get pushed our whole lives to get married so when you find someone who ticks off a sufficient number of Perfect Partner Attributes on a checklist, then yeah maybe feeling reluctant to marry that person is giving you some disconnect. But! I proffer this: it is more fulfilling to be alone than to be married to someone who you don't absolutely want to be married to.

I don't think it's a bad thing to be a person who wouldn't be happy being married to anyone. But if you wouldn't be happy being married to anyone, then why marry anyone at all?

Women are encouraged too much to marry men when those men meet a certain suite of behaviors and how the couple are together, their common interests, their interactions and everything else just are pushed aside. Think about your best friends. There are probably lots of people who would fit the spec of best friend on paper but when it comes down to it, there's more than just what you can list about someone that makes you really love someone and make you truly fitting companions for one another.

Also, from what I can tell from what you've written I've felt like you have about someone and I married them anyway because I thought it was just normal cold feet, I thought it was what I was supposed to do, I didn't think I could truly be happy with anyone, he was perfect on paper, I'd never find someone else who put up with me, he expected me to marry him, my family and his family expected it and it would make them happy and. Guess what! It was the biggest mistake of my life! It turned out that my family's happiness regarding who I married actually wasn't as important as my own happiness regarding who I married. It turned out that being with someone who didn't make me happy was not better than being alone! And I see this happening all over the place, people getting married when they're not absolutely sure about it. This is a 100% kind of thing.

Also. You asked about therapy and depression. When I tried to discuss my similar concerns about the wedding to my fiance and family, they brought up therapy and depression. Because of course a woman in a position like this couldn't REALLY not want to get married, right? No, you have your feelings and they are valid and just because you don't want something everyone expects does not mean you are depressed or need therapy.

You are not broken, you're just trying to force yourself to fit with the wrong person.
posted by Polychrome at 4:06 AM on November 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Followup here: Metatalk
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:36 PM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

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