April 8, 2008

Cold Feet

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:19 pm by Jess

I had no idea “Cold Feet” would be so serious.

My wedding is two and a half months away. Meanwhile, my best friend is getting divorced. As one would expect, she is visiting bars and theraputically indulging in the local eye candy. She recently called me to say that not only had she enjoyed the view, but she had hit it off with someone and she was getting ready to go on her first date – that went along with the obligatory “Is it a date, I’m not sure it’s a date, he didn’t say…” business – in a very long time.

My gut reaction to this was of course, jealousy. I wanted to be going out, getting dolled up. It made it worse that she and I used to do this together, both single, both in shape, both fresh from college. I went to bed that night dreaming about old boyfriends, missed opportunities and more.

So it was official, I have cold feet. The first time this kind of feeling happened wasn’t so bad. The jealousy wasn’t actually jealousy, turns out, just a sheer curiosity of “What if.” Or rather, “Who else.” Unfortunately, this second feeling was worse, more intense and more disturbing.

The second wave of cold feet was panic. It happened as I lay down to go to sleep, about two weeks after my bout with jealousy. I closed my eyes and began to mentally assess the decision of marriage. I have done this before with Jonathan, with friends, even with a Pastor, but this was the first time that my lone brain and conscience dove deep into the heart of the matter, without anyone else’s words to distract me. And my brain said, “How can you be making a decision that will affect the next 75 years of your life?!” “How can you be making a decision after 1/4 of your life that will affect 3/4 of your life?!” and on and on. (Oh yes, I plan to live until I am 100.) Now I say this with the honesty of someone who has had real panic attacks and is frightened of ever having one again: I would not joke, I had a small panic attack. Actually, I visualized the morning after my wedding, waking up and seeing Jonathan and the thought that ran across my brain was, “I have now made the decision and if it is the wrong one I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.” In my visualization of this I began to have a panic attack at the thought that the decision was behind me, and then in real life, in my bed, I began to have a small panic attack.

Perhaps you know what I am talking about. Jon is fully aware of all this but seems to be much less affected, so actually, perhaps your husbands-to-be know what I am talking about.

The next morning I met a friend for coffee to discuss this “episode.” We had a long and important talk. I was nervous to tell her my real opinion, and elated to hear that she was of the same opinion as me: People aren’t meant to be monogamous.

I know this might shock many people. I am not saying that they shouldn’t be, or that they cannot be. I think the opposite on both counts, in most cases. However, from the evolutionary perspective to just plain old daydreams of the average adult, I don’t think manogaminity is 100% natural. (Yes, I said manogaminity, because that is the word that she and I coined after racking our brains to no avail for the real word.  I like this one better, and I am keeping it.) The decision of marriage then, to me,  is a promise to be manogamous, and a decision to honor that promise knowing full well that I may be tempted, I may someday be really tempted for reasons that seem absolutely cruel, and that I will also be tested. And I expect the same from him.

I am still wallowing in the cold feet a tad bit. This sort of decision in modern day, when we aren’t marrying to bring two villages together, or to have kids to work on the farm, or to give motivation during war time, when we are marrying for this pretty modern reason of reciprocal love, is extremely intense. However, the excitement of knowing that this person I love will be bound to me, and me to him for such a long time starts to feel very special, exciting and lucky. I think there will definitely be times when I second guess this decision – or so I have heard from EVERY SINGLE married woman I know – but as long as I feel those other three things, it’s the right thing.



  1. Loaf said,

    The word you want is “monogamy.”

    And I totally know this feeling. I have it all the time. I always tell myself that the decision to be with my partner is a decision I must make all over again every morning. It helps with my own panic attacks about the big picture.

  2. Jess said,

    To think I was an English Major (shaking head in shame)

  3. Megan said,

    I think we will all go through this point of “cold feet” before our weddings. Men and women alike; we as humans tend to second-guess ourselves, and it’s just natural. It’s scary, though.

  4. rswb said,

    Shortly before we got married a friend of ours had a baby with her boyfriend (to whom she is not married). She said to us (while her and Reto and I were out having lunch one day) how she couldn’t believe what a big commitment we were about to make and how she doesn’t know if she could do it etc etc etc. It seemed insane coming from someone who had just (like a month previously) had a baby. A baby is far more commitment than a marriage – whatever happens with her and her boyfriend, they will be inextricably bound for the rest of their lives. I have every intention of not getting divorced, and I am ridiculously happy to have married reto (even though our situation is by no means ideal and even though I had just as much fun as anyone being single), but if we decided to break up (and if we hadn’t had children by that point), we would from then on be separate from each other. Nothing but memories would bind us inextricable.

    My point is that marriage (in my opinion) is by no means the biggest and most serious thing you can do. People keep asking me how married life is different for me, and honestly – it’s not. At most, I think, there is a subtle change in the way I feel about Reto (the idea that he is my family now, as opposed to my parents/sister, who are obviously still my family, but he is now the person I would list as “next of kin” on forms) but in general … it’s all just more of the same.

    And I mean that in the nicest way possible!

  5. Jess said,

    i know everyone does 🙂
    waffle, your comment is totally positive and refreshing. i had never thought about whether or not marriage was “the biggest” thing. i am not sure what i think it. probably kids. i guess the fact that i feel the weight of the decision is good, because it means im putting some responsibility behind it!!

  6. Kate said,

    Hopefully, this will get your mind off of the cold feet – tag you’re it!

  7. emahlee said,

    okay, this might be a little inappropriate in a serious post, but I’m tagging you as well.

  8. Kat said,

    I know this will probably sound weird, but nobody ever said you HAVE to be monogamous. I know several married couples who are in perfectly functional polyamorous relationships. Yes, they see other people… they go on dates, have sex with, have emotional relationships with OTHER PEOPLE. All with their spouse’s permission. And it’s not some sort of freaky swinger-orgy-party thing either. It’s just like… normal relationships, with more than one person.

    I know this is way too much for most people’s brains to handle, but I just wanted to throw it out there. There are other options than being married and monogamous or single and dating. *shrug*

  9. Marriage, like sobriety, is taken one day at a time. To look at the big picture can be overwhelming, especially when there are so few examples of happy contented marriage. I’m happy to say that I still get dolled up for my husband, and it’s so much better than going out and looking for someone to connect with. He knows me better than anyone else in my life, and I would rather be with him than be alone. Monogamy is definitely for us. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

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