April 8, 2008
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.