Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Provide gentle opening for fiance who's getting cold feet
Cold feet: This week my fiance told me he's having some cold feet about our wedding this month and isn't sure we should be getting married. I understand this is not uncommon, at least according to our wedding planner, but how do I know if he is just freaking out (marriage is a big deal!) or if I should be actually figuring out how to cancel a wedding? What questions do I ask?
I want to take him and his concerns seriously, and I obviously don't want to get married just because the wedding train left the station, but I also don't want to give too much weight to something that doesn't mean all that much.
Everyone only talks about the happy fluffy side of a wedding, and I feel really alone, like I can't talk about this to anyone in real life. For what it's worth, my only regret heading into the final month is that we didn't elope (although I think that regret will end after the wedding actually happens). I can't wait to be his wife . . . and of the two of us, I thought I would be the one with doubts.
Carolyn: There's a lot here, but I'll try to cover it all.
The best way to talk to him about his cold feet is to gently hold the door open for him: "If I were to tell you it was okay to call off the wedding, we'll deal with it — then would you do it?"
Some may see that as overreacting, but the last thing you want is to be married to someone who showed up only because he couldn't get his mind around the idea of saying, "I don't love you." Do yourself the favor of offering to cancel, without intent to accuse, guilt trip or elicit sympathy.
Whether he's horrified by the idea or relieved, you'll have your next steps laid out for you — proceed or postpone.
If he's relieved and wants out, though, tell him you want to sit on the news for a couple of days so you can both get used to it before you tell anybody.
That will help you both see whether he's being rash/impulsive or sincere. Just tell anyone who asks that you're taking a two-day hiatus from wedding-plan madness. Credible, and not a bad idea.
As for "happy fluffy" talk, there must be someone you trust somewhere, even if it's not your closest friend — someone who knows you and ideally knows your fiance, who can listen without flinching, ask a few leading questions and not acquire a bias in case the wedding happens. It's okay to show you aren't perfect.
Speaking of imperfection: What would have made eloping better, besides having him "locked in" by now? If it's just that, then you dodged a bullet by not eloping, obviously — but if it's something else, that might be really useful in figuring out what has spooked your fiance.
For example, have you been uptight? Have the families been meddling? Are you sparring over money or taste or temperament or . . . ? If new sources of conflict have been exposed by the wedding process, then that's where to start tracing his doubts.