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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Are we experiencing cold feet or something more serious?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11979points) June 22nd, 2010 from iPhone

My fiancé and I are getting married (we hope) in a month. For the past month or so it seems like things have really gone downhill in our relationship. We have always had our issues but recently the problems seems bigger than usual. After arguing day after day, we finally sat down and discussed our feelings. Turns out we’re both thinking similar thoughts about this situation. He thinks I don’t show him enough love and affection. He feels unloved and unwanted. I agree. I’ve always been very closed off towards him, at least physically, and I can’t figure out why. I love him to death. He’s an amazing man. But it almost feels awkward to be intimate with him! We haven’t had sex in weeks. I have had relationships that all I ever did was kiss, hold hands, caress, and have sex all the time. I need that kind of attention but why does it feel strange with my fiancé? All I can come up with is, maybe we became too comfortable with each other. We’re best friends. We can say/do anything in front of one another. Except be intimate. This is a huge issue for us. He isn’t willing to marry someone who can’t give him what he needs. And I don’t blame him! We are under so much pressure right now because of this wedding. We signed up for couple’s therapy next week but I’m afraid they’ll simply say, “You’re still young. Break it off. Move on with life.” And it’s just not that simple. We have been together 5 years. We have a house together. I can’t imagine just walking away at this point. But is it possible to make chemistry and sparks in a relationship? Or are we doomed?

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37 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

Sounds to me as if you may have a pheremone problem. Whether we like it or not, pheremones still play a crucial role in human sexuality. If you are on the pill, try having your doctor prescribe a different one to help change your “scent,” and see if that works. If not, you may have to come off the pill entirely.

lilikoi's avatar

After 5 years sparks don’t fly on their own. Relationships take work.You’re either willing to make the effort or you’re not. Sounds like you are. Therapy may be a good starting point after all.

Blackberry's avatar

You might want to postpone that wedding until you guys know what you want and need in a long-term partner. In my opinion.

dpworkin's avatar

Don’t despair. Counseling was a great choice, and despite your fears you are more likely to find a way to release your libidinous feelings for this man than you are to be told to “move on.”

sleepdoc's avatar

No relationship is doomed if the 2 parties are both willing to work at it. Now sometimes the outcome of the relationship may not be what you expected when you start, but don’t despair. The time leading up to getting married is stressful and crazy. If you both are willing to go and work on this, then do just that and see where you end up.

wgallios's avatar

I know when I got married, planning the wedding and all the stress added a lot of tension to the relationship. I would suggest focusing on getting past the wedding and getting through that stress… or run off to Vegas and get married. After we got past that hump, all that drama of planning the wedding went away instantly.

But as far as the feeling awkward while trying to be intimate. I would say, after the wedding perhaps, relax, have a romantic evening together, and just let things happen.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@CaptainHarley I am on the pill and I do think it decreases my sex drive. But at the same time, in the past I’ve been easily turned on and attracted to men in other relationships while on the pill. My fiancé is a handsome guy! I can’t understand what the issue is. I just really hold back sexually with him.

CaptainHarley's avatar


No, I didn’t mean that the pill may have decreased your sex-drive. I meant that the pill may have changed your preferred “smell” for a man, one that didn’t include your fiance’s particular scent.

Facade's avatar

I think the counseling is a good idea.

marinelife's avatar

Consider getting the book Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. It has exercises that can help you and your fiance become close.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@CaptainHarley Oh I see. Well in that case I might have to get off the pill completely. I’ve tried many different ones and nothing has changed.

madeinkowloon's avatar

I recommend reading The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman. Though I do have to warn you if you’re offended by religious undertones or anything.

I don’t think you’re in trouble. Five years is a long time, and you’re just not in that ‘in love’ stage anymore. ‘Real’ love actually takes work and is a choice.

Good luck!

Coloma's avatar

Do not forge ahead with a wedding if you are unable to find resolution to these problems so they do not continue to recycle themselves over & over again.

If there is something you do not like about someone when you are dating it will either stay the same or, usually get worse after marriage.

I agree with some counseling and, if your libido issue is not hormonally related I’d guess that there is an undecurrent of resentment and unresolved issues going on.

Good luck!

evandad's avatar

I doubt that this is what you want to hear, but if you’re not physically happy with this guy then you should say to hell with the red tape and cut your losses. As you said you’re young, and you have plenty of time to get it right. If you put papers on this it could be the biggest mistake of your young life.

nikipedia's avatar

Different pills shouldn’t make a difference if @CaptainHarley‘s hypothesis is correct. Every person has a part of the genome called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which expresses proteins involved in the immune system. Women tend to be more attracted to men with MHCs unlike their own—unless they’re on the pill (or any kind of hormonal contraception).

Do you feel like your attraction to your fiance changes during your placebo week? Did you start dating when you weren’t on the pill?

It sounds like in addition to the wedding, you’ve been under an awful lot of stress lately. Do you think postponing (not necessarily canceling!) the wedding would make you feel better or worse?

JLeslie's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Aww, I hate to hear that you are having second thoughts, I have been so excited kind of following along with you picking your wedding date, and dressess, etc. Meanwhile, I can only imagine how hard this is for you to be wondering if you should postpone or cancel your wedding. I think some of these questions might have been asked above, but I need clarification.

1) have you always had a low sex drive with your fiance? Since the beginning?

2) I know you are on the pill, and have never had a problem on the pill with sex drive, but are you on a different type of pill than before? I know very few people who do ok on those triphasal pills, if not affecting sexual drive at minimum people don’t feel “right” I didn’t, and are more moody. All other pills I have taken absolutely nothing changed for me, same cramps, same boobs, same weight, same mood, same legnth of period, only those triphasal pills screwed me up.

3) 5 years is quite a while, and I think you guys live together right? So in some ways you are like a married couple already. If you were married 3 or 4 years already and hit a sexual slump no one would think it very odd.

4) You can make sparks, but that is easiest when you had them to begin with and just need to get them back. However, certainly people grow to love each other and desire each other, it is done in cultures who have arranged marriages all of the time

5) It seems you want to want to have sex right? It’s not that you are happy not to have sex with him are you?

janbb's avatar

You are both under a tremendous amount of stress right now with the wedding coming up, and if I remember rightly, you have some additional stress from a car accident and the resulting suit. It would be unusual if you weren’t feeling some tensions in the relationship. Also – correct me if I’m wrong – but weren’t you in an abusive relationship jsut prior to this one? (I believe you wrote about that.) I think couples’ counseling is a great idea, and that as @dpworkin says, it is more likely that given time, it will cause greater intimacy not less. If you have been able to enjoy intimacy with others and you love your fiance, I think therapy will only be beneficial.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I thought about what you wrote…and there is something much deeper going on here that needs to be addressed in therapy..possibly your own issues (separate from the marriage issue). What struck me from your posting is that you cannot understand why there are no sparks with your fiance, who is very handsome, etc etc? The first thought was that someone had hurt you in the past, perhaps, and that hurt was rearing its head at a most important time in your life.

It’s often known that we are attracted to partners who remind us or echo our primary caretakers in childhood. So, it gets a bit strange at times unless you can get a therapist to work that through. (Imago therapists are trained in that.) If you have any abuse issues at all I think there is a huge safety thing that has to be addressed as well that has nothing to do with your fiance. Were there any abuse issues with you or with marriages in your family? I think that might be something else to look into as well.

Abuse sufferers can disassociate from people and they don’t mean to. They want to get close, but can’t….usually because of this safety issue. And you know why it is happening now? Because you are about to get as close as humanly possible to another human being and this on a deep level may make you really frightened….this wedding may have triggered some deep fear of intimacy. The question to investigate is..why?

I wish you could just postpone the wedding till you worked things out. But whatever you do, it looks like you both love each other and counseling…definitely go to counseling and stay in it until you can learn all you can about you and your relationship. It will make a world of difference.

All the best!

JLeslie's avatar

One more question, did you both decide to get married because you had been dating for a long time and seemed like it was time to get married or break up? Or, that you really felt like you wanted to be with him for the rest of your life? Or, because you had pressures around to get married? When I got engaged I was waiting for him to ask me, I loved being with him, and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world, never a second thugh really. However, a few weeks before the wedding there were a few fights that I felt like everything might fall apart, a fight with him, and a fight with his family. But, I didn;t feel like I wanted to call it off, I just felt like things were falling apart, and there was more strife then I ever would have expected.

Marva's avatar

Ok, firstly, I would advise to postpone the wedding. Not because I think you should or shouldn’t get married, but this is not the best move to into under pressure and uncertainty. Yuo can even make up an excuse for the families and just “hold” things for another month or two, untill you work a few things out. If this is the right thing for you, you will find the way to make it happen.

Secondly, you describe a complex sitiation. Myself I was once married in a situation like you describe, eventually it ended, because I stopped loving him. Looking back it was always the deep friendship and warm nest I was after with him, it was a safe place, more than anything else. It doesn’t mean this is what is happening to you, but it could be.
Figthing before the wedding could be the manifestation of a deep and unaware gut feeling that marriage is a the wrong move, but it could also be a manifestation of all the pressure.

Bottom line, I don’t think any of us can help you, you need time to sort out your feelings, and proffessional help.

Godd luck!

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar


1. For some reason, I can’t remember back to the beginning of our relationship. I would assume we had a good sex life or I wouldn’t have stuck around.

2. I’ve been on the pill for many years. Long before I started dating him. But since I’ve been with him, I’ve switched a few times due to migraines. I’m on a pill now that works well with my body and doesn’t give me headaches. So it’d be difficult for me to switch again and risk health issues. My current pill isn’t one of those tri packs with a bunch of different hormones.

3. Yes we do live together. We have for 4 years or so.

4. The thing about creating sparks is that I don’t want it to feel forced. Shouldn’t chemistry happen naturally? I’m worried that if we’re already losing interest in sex, what will happen in another 5 yrs?

5. Yes, I absolutely want to have sex! I love sex. Really. I love anything sexual. Holding hands, public displays of affection, kissing, cuddling, etc. But with him, it doesn’t feel normal. Dare I say, it feels like I’m holding my brother’s hand…

6. We decided to get married, I think, because it seemed like the normal thing to do. We had been together for so long. We had overcome a lot of past issues. We just bought a house together. I guess marriage was the only thing left to do. But I don’t think I would have rushed into it without being confident that I wanted to be with this man forever. I knew our physical issues needed work but I figured it was something that would eventually get fixed. But here we are, a month before the wedding, and they’re certainly not fixed.

Coloma's avatar

Not all relationships are meant to last ‘forever.’
I think the idea of ‘forever’ is a hugely loaded expectation and unrealistic for the vast majority of people.

As far as sex goes..well…sex is great fun, but…it’s not the end all and be all of a relationship.

If the friendship and companionship and communication is intact there are ways around sexual ebbs & flow.

If not…sex is not the glue that binds..although in many dysfunctional relationships sex is viewed as a cure all for what ails the marriage and the partners as a whole.

I had amazing sex with my ex husband, almost up to the bitter end. lol

Just wasn’t enough of a bandaid for the spurting arteries of change. haha

Rarebear's avatar

Relationship problems don’t get better after marriage.

CaptainHarley's avatar

There have been several studies which indicate that couples who live together before marriage are less likely to get married, and that if they do get married, are more likely to divorce later on. I don’t know what to do about this, but it seems you have separated sex from close friendship. My own marriage was similar, except that Vicky and I became best friends BEFORE we began getting serious or having sex. It may be that this is something you cannot overcome. I hope not, it sounds as if the two of you have much in common.

If you do not delay the wedding, you stand a chance of going into the marriage with some “built-in” issues. If you DO delay the marriage, chances are you never will get married. I strongly recommend you find a really good relationship counselor who can help you guys work through this as a couple.

Good luck!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I married my best friend and found myself in the similar situation. Everyone around us told us it was the stress of an almost 2yr engagement, crazy wedding plans, big family pressure, etc. We went to Engaged Encounter and were voted the couple most likely to succeed and we did… as best friends. Maybe what your time together has brought you too is a phenomenal friendship, one you might keep for life but not the stuff of marriage.

Some people say sparks don’t last past a few years and require lots and lots of work, maybe but I can also tell you I’ve had relationship in which I had sex nearly every day with my partner for near 4yrs and sparks nevered wavered for either of us. I’d never get into a relationship again much less a marriage where my partner wasn’t sexually compatible because it causes way too much stress and frustration that seeps into every other part of the relationship.

Cupcake's avatar

I’m glad you’re going to counseling together next week.

I shadow the thought that postponing may be the best remedy… you should do what feels right.

I went through something similar with my husband before we got married… I didn’t feel attracted to him and felt numb. Turns out it was my past issues with men and anxiety that he would do the same things. We worked it out and got married and are very happy.

Be easy on yourself. You have a lot going on… See the therapist, set a course of action and follow it. You’re in control.

JLeslie's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 I don’t think it is your birth control pills either. Of course none of us have a magic ball to predict whether you aill be happily married or not. what about this exercise? Imagine it is a week after our wedding date and you are married, how do you feel? Imagine it is a week after and you are not married, no how do you feel? Does one have more regret than the other? A feeling of relief?

I have seen more than one marriage fall apart very quickly because the couple got married basically because they had been together for a long time, and weren’t breaking up, so they got married, seemed like the thing to do. But, feeling like family and very comfortable with your fiance is a good thing I think. The closeness of understanding each other and being able to be yourself is one of the essential parts of a marriage. Since you have the desire to want to be sexual with him, just aren’t feelin’ it right now, it seems like it is something you can probably figure out. The 7 year itch has been shortened back to the 4 year itch, and in fact many of my friends around the four years mark had a lot of difficulties in their marriages, you are probably kind of in that same place.

The one thing I caution you about is if you are with him because you can’t stand your family and he helped you escape, I have seen that be troublesome for women.

I think what I wrote might sound negative, like I think you should not get married, and I do not think that at all. I have no real answer. Only you know what your relationship is really like and how happy you are. I say make a real effort to get sexy again with each other. Get back into the practice, go on a date, see a hot movie with him, go dancing, whatever you used to do when you were younger, bring yourself back to a time when you couldn’t get enough of it.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@JLeslie Great advice! Thank you :)

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I’m wondering if we should just go through with the wedding and work out all our issues once everything calms down. I’d rather get married, give it my best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll deal with that when the time comes. But if I give up now and call off the wedding, I’ll always wonder “what if”. I’ll regret not having tried or given our relationship a fighting chance. It’s a risk, but it’s not irreversible. I don’t want to get a divorce, obviously, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Right?

janbb's avatar

You definitely don’t want to get married just because the momentum is there, but I know you have been working on both the wedding and the relationship for a long time. I think if I were you, I’d be inclined to do as you say and go ahead with the marriage. Most of us have issues that we are working on – 37 years into a marriage or so! – and it doe not mean the marriage is a bad one. I would defintely start the counseling sessions and see if you can get to a somewhat more settled place before the wedding, but plan to continue them after. You are reminding me of the panic attack when my fiance went back to England the day after we became engaged. Well – 37 years later and he’s “still the one.” Take heart, dearie.

JLeslie's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 I support your decision. Well, I would support any decision you made :). But, it does seem like you have to give it a try. I don’t get the feeling you are in a place where you want to break things off, and so if you don’t get married what are you going to do just continue living together? This is a crossroads point I think.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for the support ;) If we called off the wedding, I think it would be so devastating to us and our families that it would tear us apart. That’s why I really want to give this a fair shot before making any big decisions about cancelling a wedding or breaking up/moving out.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@janbb 37 years! That gives me hope :)

janbb's avatar

(Actually, I lied; it will be 37 next January but you get the point.)

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@janbb You lied to me? Now how can I ever trust any advice you have given me?! ;-)

janbb's avatar

Well, it feels like 37 years, not only 36½. Sorry bout that.

Cat4thCB's avatar

my comments may seem blunt (and lengthy), but marriage is a significant and meaningful decision. you are going to be making a long-term commitment and permanent bond to a living person, not merely to being married. and you seem in need of perspective, a new mindset, and some self-examination.

for the moment, put aside the matter of the wedding and the formality of getting married. the wedding is one day, the marriage is forever.

what makes a marriage forever is the building of a strong foundation.


at this point your marriage foundation is unstable, uncertain, and weak. your attitude towards building this foundation is clearly lukewarm, if not wholly apathetic. your viewpoint leans toward obligation.


you stated, “We decided to get married, I think, because it seemed like the normal thing to do. We had been together for so long. We had overcome a lot of past issues. We just bought a house together. I guess marriage was the only thing left to do.”

none of these are reasons to get married. they do not contribute to a strong foundation. they will not bind you together. marriage vows should be viewed as sacred, not a mere “thing to do” or a strategy for real estate investment.



marriage is full of stress and requires adjustments and sacrifice and consideration. if you are having fights about serious matters, if neither of you are having your needs met, getting married is not the fix. you seem to be looking for reasons to be together, not feeling that you want to be together. making a wise choice may be the hardest thing you ever do, since your desire for the closeness and love possible in marriage is very strong.


your reasoning is fickle. first you say that you have “always been very closed off towards him”, then you say the opposite, that “We can say/do anything in front of one another”. contradictory feelings about such weighty matters should really be resolved before committing to a lifetime with a person with equally strong concerns about his own issues with you.

you say that he feels that you “don’t show him enough love and affection”. love and affection are part of what makes a concrete foundation for your life together. sensitivity to the physical and emotional needs of your mate is vital to making your marriage thrive.


It is possible to be together for many years and yet not be “at heart” with your partner.


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