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Marriage Prep 101

From the burning questions you should ask each other before you walk down the aisle, to the jitters and cold feet, here’s a crash course in building a marriage that can last a lifetime.

Life’s Big Questions continued...

If you dig your way through these issues with your betrothed and find you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, don’t panic -- disagreeing is not a recipe for divorce. 

“Sometimes there are differences that are sizeable in these area, and that’s OK -- you don’t want to marry your clone,” says Weston.  “You just have to balance between how much you alter your life and how much your spouse alters his or hers, or you just agree to disagree.”

Still, explains Weston, it’s important that your individual differences are well understood, and ideally, those differences should come out of the closet well before the down payment is made on a ring.

“People should know where the person they are dating stands on these topics before there is a proposal,” says Weston. “While it doesn’t always happen that way, knowing where you each stand on these issues before you even consider marriage is ideal.”

But better late than never, explains Weston. Even for June brides who are steps away from saying “I do,” getting through these issues now with their husbands-to-be is far better than putting them off until after the honeymoon.

From Jitters to Cold Feet

You’ve made it through your pre-wedding discussion checklist, and it’s time to move on to the menu and the floral selections. The problem is, you still can’t shake a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and it’s not the stuffed mushroom hors d'oeuvres you spent the afternoon sampling, it’s the jitters.

“Everyone experiences jitters to some degree,” says Allison Moir-Smith, author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride’s Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life. “You are going through a major shift in your identity, and the jitters are a result of that.”

The jitters, explains Moir-Smith, can be a healthy part of your transition into married life, helping you to look inside yourself and grow.

“It’s important for brides and grooms to know that the jitters are OK,” Moir-Smith tells WebMD. “You know how to be single, or to be a son or a daughter, and now the jitters are a way for you to self-evaluate and change as you figure out how you are going to be as a husband or a wife.”

While the jitters are relatively normal, one step up on the ladder of wedding anxiety are cold feet -- a phrase that sends chills down the spines of pending brides and grooms everywhere.  How do you tell the difference between the jitters and cold feet?

“One sign is that you are really picking your fiancé apart and are hypercritical of him or her all the time,” says Moir-Smith. “While you might not be ready to call the wedding off, having cold feet means it’s time to do some emotional work around getting married.”

Therapy and some serious one-on-one time with your spouse-to-be are both smart choices; sifting through your thoughts and concerns is the only way to make it to the altar in one piece. But if still doesn’t feel right, calling it off can be the right decision, even if it’s last-minute.

“If you’re going to call off a wedding, the sooner the better,” says Moir-Smith. “It’s far better to call off a wedding than get divorced, and while it will be painful, everyone will be better off in the long run.”

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