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Wedding Undergraduate: Brave Bride & Cold Feet

I get a lot of emails about cold feet. Women freaking out about getting married, and wondering if it’s the right thing to do. I’m not a therapist (and hello, if your cold feet get freezing, you should talk to one NOW), but I do read a lot of these emails, and have some thoughts. First, I think worrying about making a huge life decision is totally normal. I think worrying about the complex nature of a wedding, or the unknowable nature of marriage is probably the hallmark of being a smart and self aware woman about to make a huge leap.* However, if your cold feet come in the form of, “I’m not sure I love my fiance,” or, “I love my fiance but I’m starting to think marrying him/her might be a bad idea,” then, I would you encourage you to slow down your wedding plans.

But today isn’t about that, exactly. Today is about the amazing story that Team Practical member Kimberly, who writes these days over at Brave Bride (tagline: Budget, Beauty, Balls), has shared with me over the last month or so. It’s the story of her coming to terms with her cold feet (with a video that made me all teary and mind-blown) and it makes me want to French kiss the world.

First, bits of the email Kimberly sent me a month and a half ago:

My fiance was away this past weekend for his bachelor party, so I had a lot of time to be alone with my cold feet. I was so nervous about saying ‘I do’ for, you know, ever and EVER, that it caused me to stay up at night downing a jumbo bag of M&M’s while watching a marathon of Toddlers & Tiaras (a reality show that is scary enough as it is!). And then I cried myself to sleep, confused AND feeling guilty about my confusion.

There are 2 issues that are causing me to have cold feet, and neither of them have anything to do with how much I love my fiance:

  • The awareness that my fiance and I will inevitably be attracted (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) to someone else at some point in our lives. This doesn’t mean infidelity is inevitable, but I it *might* mean that temptation is inevitable. Scary. As. Hell.
  • I can’t help but take note of my parents’ tragic marriage and that of 50% of other American marriages. Now if that’s not discouraging and depressing, I don’t know what is.

As for the first point, there are multiple people in this world with whom we could have a potentially wonderful romantic partnership. There are people who can make us laugh harder than our fiances can. And there are people who are not even capable of making us as annoyed as our fiances do at times. So what’s a girl to do when she’s bent on all of these heavy thoughts? She talks to her fiance about it. And when I talked to mine, he did his usual little magic trick where he talks me down from the ledge…

My fiance Brian assured me that what I’m feeling is normal, and what I’m thinking is true. But he also said that if I keep holding back from fully committing because the grass is always greener in another cute boy’s yard, I’m going to miss out on all of the wonderful, kick-ass things that are unique to a long-term relationship. (I know, I know…he’s SUCH a keeper, ain’t he?)

As for the second point, I’m afraid that my life with Brian will turn out just like my parents’: smooth, simple, and lovely for the first half of the marriage, then torturous, resentful, and cold during the second half. It’s scary to know that two people can start off with love and good intentions, only to end up being the thorn in each other’s side. You see, my parents weren’t always such a disaster. In the beginning they were just twenty-something-year-olds in love. They came from big families and had parents with long and happy marriages. So if two-hurt-and-angry-strangers-sharing-a-cold-bed can happen in their love story, it can happen to anyone’s.

I am the sum of my parents’ strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t want to believe that my marriage will suffer the same fate. Fortunately, I see in myself a characteristic that is completely unique to me – a trick up my sleeve that neither my mom or dad have. It’s called balls. They’re not very big but they’re growing- mostly through writing, dishing with friends, reading Team Practical’s thoughts, and lots of talking with a fiance whose bold ballsy-ness impresses the heck out of me. All of this brings me (at times, but CRUCIAL times) great courage and peace.

For me, so much of being engaged is just about being brave. It’s about being fully aware of the realities of marriage and signing up anyway, knowing that when the time comes to fight for my relationship I’ve got to have the guts to be honest, the guts to hear my husband be honest with me, and the guts to do the work that needs to be done. And I’m coming to grips with the fact that having cold feet doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Brian. It doesn’t mean I’m not ready to be married. And it doesn’t mean that I’m more likely to be a bad wife. I’m just proceeding with caution, moving forward, and plowing through. And that’s the best and bravest thing I can do for now.

But this, this is what Kimberly wrote me this weekend, and this is the video she sent me. I know, I know. What a pain to watch a video. But do it. This one is a little long (you can fast forward a bit in the middle if you are so busy you just don’t have time for Kimberly and Tom Petty) but WATCH IT. It will give you goosebumps. The magic kind.

Sometimes the anticipation of that which is risky is scarier and more debilitating than engaging in the act itself. This is not to say that the jump or a marriage are a piece of cake – clearly, I’m aware that both can suck you dry of everything you’ve got. But when the fear is in your MIND as opposed to in your heart, it’s wise to simply take a leap of faith.

*Side note: I actually didn’t have cold feet, so I’m not saying you have to have them to be thoughtful and sane. But I am saying they are normal.

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