Cold Feet Pre-Engagement

I’ve been with my girlfriend for 1.5 years now. We met on a Catholic dating site and it was pretty miraculous how it all came together. She’s from another part of the country and my family was against it. But we persevered and God made it possible for us to finally live in the same area (not together, obviously).

We’ve got an incredible amount in common. We think the same way. We both want the same things out of life and to live the same lifestyle. It’s really like we’re made for one another. There were powerful signs when we first got together. Mass readings, people telling us how much we inspired them, dreams, etc. So basically, both of us really and truly believed that God was calling us to marry one another and we were thrilled about it.

Now we’re a ways down the road. Still very much in love (obviously no more butterflies and sparkles), and we’ve been whacked in the head with reality plenty of times. But God has always helped us persevere and grow closer. We’ve truly made each other a better person already through overcoming addictions and working on personal faults.

BUT we’re getting closer to the time we decided it’s best for us financially, socially, etc. to get engaged and now I’m suddenly getting nervous about the commitment. I’m a very scrupulous person, so I’m wondering if that’s all this anxiety really is, but I can’t put my finger on the cause and it’s killing both of us. Objectively, I want nothing more than to be with her. Emotionally, I’m a nervous wreck.

I’m going to speak with my parish priest, but I figured I’d throw this out there. Any advice? Thoughts?

To anticipate the barrage, did I discern another vocation before this? Well, I didn’t enter a monastery or seminary or go on any retreats. But I prayed for a few years about it. Finally I got so frustrated that I begged God to give me some sign if he wanted me to enter a religious vocation, because if not, I would presume he wanted me to get married to someone.

Well, within a week, he brought my current girlfriend into my life.

Not knowing your personality, but accepting the positive aspects you describe, I can only say that it is not unusual to be anxious when facing a huge life-decision that leads to changes in lifestyle and direction. Some people process change more easily than others.
The prospect of change in work, in a new place, or a life-affecting change in relationship can make anyone uncertain. You are facing the reality of permanent relationship, instead of a dream or future plan. Your awareness shows commonsense that some people may lack. Some go into marriage not really aware of what a radical choice it is, and therefore they may be less able to sustain the relationship. In any case, I don’t find it the least surprising that a person might feel shaken at some time before undertaking the promise of marriage, and marriage.

If you are in fact good for each other as you say, then God grant you will have the love and courage to go forward in peace, trust, and kindness

I am not reading that you think you have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, so we’ll set that aside.

Nobody can really assess your relationship with your girlfriend on this information.

But on the assumption that there’s nothing wrong with it; that you and she really do love* each other, then I will say that if there was some guy who did NOT have any misgivings about getting married, then he would be a rare fellow indeed. Certainly, I did, even though I knew it was right. Marriage is a life change, and who would not be nervous about a total change in one’s life?

*Love is not butterflies and sparkles, though it may start that way and always have some of it. It’s a commitment to another person; to bring that person the best life here and in eternity that one can. That part really has nothing to do with romanticism. It has to do with the determination to be a proper man.

You don’t have to be a nervous wreck, you just have to recognize you are not comfortable yet being engaged and say so.

You don’t ask someone to marry you because it’s “financially, socially, etc.” time to do so.

It’s okay to feel what you feel and just not be engaged. If she can’t accept that then it’s time to take a break from each other. Sounds like a very intense 18 months. I’d be interested to see how you both are when apart. To see if the addictions come back or either of you revert to old ways or if the change is permanent. Is it love or co-dependence.

Trust your feelings. Just because God brought you together for His Own purpose, doesn’t mean that purpose is marriage.

You sound like me. Before I proposed to my wife as in up to the very last moment I was unsure. Not just unsure but totally petrified. I went through a whole bunch of what if’s Am I sure. Is this the right decision

We’d discussed marriage but in the end it’s your decision as the man. Personally I think what you’re experiencing is normal. It is a big thing to commit yourself to say yes to one woman for the rest of your life.

Keep praying about it however in the end it will require that you step out in faith and trust in the path God has set out for you both.

It’s good to hear from someone who’s been through this sort of thing and made it. Part of my discomfort comes from my discomfort itself. It’s like a vicious cycle of realizing that I’m nervous about marriage, then getting nervous about being nervous about it.

My girlfriend is so excited about it and it worries her that I’m not feeling the same way–which makes me more uncomfortable.

Part of me just wants to man-up, leave it in God’s hands, and push ahead, but this isn’t buying a car, it’s one of the biggest decisions I’ll ever make.

And not to get overly dramatic, but I’ve heard that we can be tempted away from our vocations by the devil. What I’m trying to figure out is if that’s what’s going on here. Is God telling me to hold my horses, or is it a more devious voice from either my own passions (scrupulosity) or something worse.

Can you (or anyone else) speak to any of that from your experience?

I have a hard time with that, because it’s either we’re called to be married or we aren’t, in which care we should stop wasting each other’s time.

We’ve spent months apart due to her career. We’ve been in the same place now for about 6 months, but for a total of 9 given that she stayed in the area last summer. Temptations and bad habits sometimes resurfaced, but never to the same extent. I think co-dependence is a huge part of married life (and love), but that’s just going off of what I’ve seen and read.

I’d love to trust my feelings, but aren’t the passions fickle and easily manipulated? That’s what I’m struggling with.


We’re both in our mid-20s, graduated from college, etc. Just to give a frame of reference.

Life isn’t all or nothing. Life is full of processes. You have said you are reacting to pressure. Take the pressure off. Saying you are not ready for the commitment isn’t breaking up. You get to slow down. She does, too.

The one thing I never heard from you is that YOU feel called to marriage as a vocation, that YOU longed to make it a commitment. Going along when you are not as well - no pun intended - but not as engaged in the process is not honest.

STOP resecond and third guessing everything and take a break is my advice. Or don’t. But its your decision, your life and you get to decide at what pace you do what you want to do.

Go on a retreat or something.

Also, have you shared these misgivings with her? If not, then why would she be the best friend you should be marrying?

And feelings are about something. Stop looking for the devil and start looking for yourself.

Oh yeah, and co-dependence is very unhealthy and ruins long-term relationships. I cannot imagine who you have been reading.

And I am 62 and BTDT.

I appreciate the advice and will consider it. It’s difficult for me to convey the situation fully via a forum, because it probably sounds like a million other couples that got caught in the whirlwind of romance, but it’s nothing like that.

We’ve been more self-aware for our whole relationship than most people are during their engagement. We’ve talked about everything through and through, which is why this anxiety is so preposterous. She’s been with me the whole way through this. We discuss it all the time. I just figured it might help to get more opinions (hence talking to my priest tomorrow as well).

As for the co-dependence subject, well, I don’t want to go too far outside the scope of this board, but I’m talking about it in the sense that Wendell Berry uses it. According to Berry, mutual dependence is the glue of traditional marriages (the physical glue, anyway, obviously there is a spiritual element). It’s what gets us through the hard times in marriage because we haven’t a choice–we need the other person.

In the olden days, that’s how marriage worked. The husband and wife needed each other for survival of both each other and their children. Today, most of us don’t live out in the country and exclusively off of a homestead, which is one of the reasons Berry posits that so many couples get divorced. They don’t have that glue of need for one another that keeps them together through thick and thin.

Again, I’ve never been married, but I think that concept is beautiful. I don’t think a co-dependence in the sense of the blind leading the blind is healthy, however, which is what I’m guessing you’re talking about.


What is BTDT?

I sent you a PM regarding it as it was rather long.

Also BTDT is Been there done that

1.5 years together may seem like a lot, but it’s not very long. Don’t leap into anything. When it’s time, both of you will know and feel it. You can’t hurry love. Get to know each other more. If you act in haste you may regret it. If you wait a while and things proceed, there won’t be any regrets.

I’m posting an update for anyone else that finds themselves in a similar situation:

After speaking with my parish priest whom I trust a great deal, I feel a million times better. He told me that my worries were very much psychological, and normal for someone taking the next step in their lives.

He also said that it is a mark of maturity to not fear burning some bridges of poosibilities. In other words, I felt some guilt about not visiting seminaries and monasteries during my discernment, but never felt a call. The mature man doesn’t dwell on what-ifs, but proceeds with what my priest called a “holy cockiness.” Which is different from arrogance, because it is a trust that God has your back.

Finally, my priest told me that through hearing my story and getting to know my gf and I he believes that I ought to proceed without hesitation. Unless God knocks me off my horse like St.Paul (and I should still be open to that) this is the way to go. He also added that its best not to waste time.

So if I could suggest anything to someone in this situation, it would be to speak with a priest you really trust. No one can tell you how to proceed via a forum. And he will likely tell you to man-up, which is something most men need to hear nowadays anyway.


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