Reinventing Romance: A First-Time Bride's Cold Feet

What to do when you have cold feet about getting married for the first time in your 40s.

By Sherry Amatenstein, LMSW

Q. I’m 43 and on the brink of getting married for the first time. My fiance is an amazing person — but as the date nears, my cold feet are turning to icicles. I really like my life and value my independence. But I can’t imagine life without Mitch in it. I feel blessed to have found him. Help! — SheilaA. Change, even a welcome one, is seldom easy. For some people, just switching from one toothpaste brand to another can be mildly traumatic. So it’s not surprising that the blessing of finding your other half is a mixed one. Your entire adult life has been "Admit One." All of a sudden you’re coupling up; there is someone else you are responsible for and to. On the plus side, you’ve got a permanent New Year’s Eve date. On the negative end, you’ve got a permanent New Year’s Eve date!The trick is to distinguish between normal pre-wedding jitters and true distress signals. Nicole Kraft, the editorial director of, advises, "Take a moment to tune into what is actually bothering you. Are you having real concerns about the core of your relationship or are you annoyed at how loudly he chews his food?" Deidre Logan, a Chicagoan and a first-time bride four years ago at age 40, confides, "If you’re too independent to be interdependent, the marriage won’t stand a chance." Logan, who owns a travel company (, adds, "Not that you have to surrender your personality or values, but you do have to sacrifice some of your own desires in order to service your marriage."In advance of the upcoming nuptials, discuss your feelings with your fiance. Use those communication skills you’ve spent 43 years perfecting. It’s possible he’s experiencing some of the same qualms. In any case, make him part of the changing process. Suzanne Henry, 44, offers the perspective of a "late bloomer bride/super-independent woman." The Virginia-based public relations consultant explains, "What’s worked for me these last two years is to have three things I love doing with my husband and three things I love doing that don’t involve him. This way he doesn’t feel abandoned, and I don’t feel stifled."Before the marriage, decide which things are non-negotiable (i.e., your annual all-girls weekend) and which are open to compromise. A predominantly happy marriage is full of compromises and trade-offs. Yes, you will lose total control of the TV remote, but you will also have someone to warm those cold feet at night. Do you have a tough question about dating or relationships?E-mail Sherry at and your question might be featured in an upcoming column.E-mail Sherry About Sherry AmatensteinSherry Amatenstein, LMSW, is the author of Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and Q&A Dating Book. She runs dating seminars around the country and does private coaching — not to help singles marry in 60 days, but to uncover their blocks. She has given relationship advice on the Early Show, Regis, Inside Edition, CBS News, VH1, BBC, and many other programs. Her philosophy is that the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself.Schedule a one-on-one coaching session with Sherry Buy Love Lessons from Bad Breakups Buy The Q&A Dating Book Originally published on, November 2007.

First Published Mon, 2009-04-06 18:19

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