What If It's Not Cold Feet? How To Know If You Should Cancel The Wedding

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In the movies, they make it look so clear when the bride realizes she doesn't want to go through with her wedding. Over in the real world, it's hard to tell what is typical stress versus genuine red flags. These are some indicators that you should postpone or cancel your wedding.

1. You Feel Obligated To Go Through With It

If you know deep down you aren’t in love with this person, you still may feel like it’s “too late” to back out. Maybe you’ve bought your dress, booked the venue, and family has already scheduled travel. We’re not going to pretend it won’t feel stressful, embarrassing, or anxiety-inducing to call it off. But you shouldn’t be with someone for the rest of your life just to save face. That isn’t fair for either of you or all the friends and family that want to see both of you happy. If you do cancel the wedding, have friends and family help you cancel vendors and simply send out a note to guests that your wedding has been postponed indefinitely.

2. There Is A Gut-Reason (Beyond Wedding Planning) That Is Stressing You Out

This is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. It makes sense you may be stressed out because of catering problems or finalizing guest lists but it shouldn’t feel like you’re planning a funeral more than a wedding. Don’t suppress your feelings just because you don’t want to have them. Explore what the root cause is and figure out (with our without your partner) if it's more than plain ol' wedding jitters. And if the root cause IS wedding planning, who says you can’t just elope?

3. You’re Hoping Being Married Will “Change” Them

It’s the same as hoping a baby will save your relationship; getting married isn’t going to turn the person you love into who you want them to be. Andrew Christiansen, a psychology professor at UCLA, published a book on marital conflict and said, “To love and marry someone, you must accept the essence of the other person; you must accept who he or she is. You can push for change at the periphery, but not at the core." If your partner bothers you by being too lazy to help with dinner or your wedding, they may be the same way with taking care of your child or parents in the future. It’s worth discussing with them before you say, “I do.”

4. You Aren’t Marrying The Same Person You Got Engaged To

While focusing on the logistics of planning a wedding is important, don’t ignore changes in your relationship that feel worrisome to you. We’re taught to avoid controversial subjects, like politics, when we first start dating and sometimes those topics (that are core to our identity) don’t get deeply discussed. However, if during your engagement, you learn your partner feels a certain way about a topic that goes deeply against what you believe, it’s okay to talk it out or reconsider your relationship. While sometimes opposites attract, psychologist Theodore Newcomb found those that had similar attitudes on controversial subjects got along best when living together. Of course, you won’t agree on everything, but make sure the two of you are on the same page for things that you both value, for example, how you want to raise your kids.

5. People You Trust Are Pulling You Aside

We’ve all seen it happen in a romantic comedy. Hours before the wedding, the bride’s father admits he thinks she would be happier on her own and she runs, smiling, from the altar. While you shouldn’t live your life based on what other people think, IF people you trust are negatively approaching you about your marriage, consider what they have to say. Wedding planner Sandy Malone says, “No mom or dad wants to break their son or daughter’s heart. If they’re doing it…something is so monumental that it had to be addressed and could not be swept under the carpet.” Don’t rush into calling anything off if someone sits you down but don’t keep rushing toward your wedding, either. Think about what they had to say and if you’re missing signs everyone else sees. From there, talk with your partner about the issue or go to a therapist if you feel you need expert advice.