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A Spiral of ‘What Ifs’ One Month Before My Wedding

August 11, 2022
My fiance and I on our engagement day Photo credit: Andrew Wagdy
My fiancé and I on our engagement day
Photo credit: Andrew Wagdy

It’s past 2 AM. I’m scrolling aimlessly through my phone, and I notice that my countdown application—flashing a picture of a picture of Andrew and I on our engagement day— says 37 days.

It hits me.

I’m getting married. I’m getting married in a little over a month, and all I can think of are the curtains and carpets we’re yet to buy and the honeymoon we haven’t booked as flight fares continue to rise.

A reality I knew as distant, is now at my doorstep.

Far from the crevices of my mind was the most vital element: a slack-jawed transition that would take me from living on my own, to living with a partner for the rest of my life.

At first, I thought it was just nerves. Being the anxious person I am, I felt a festering guilt for feeling this way—I love my fiancé, and cannot wait to marry him, but the constant pressure is driving me insane.

I didn’t think anyone else faced what I’m facing. Google said otherwise. As soon as I typed “fear before wedding” in the search bar, countless articles appeared about pre-wedding jitters being absolutely normal.

I sighed in relief.

I stare at the ceiling, hold my phone, and listen to Andrew detail the differences between hotels for our honeymoon booking. We are up till 3 AM, researching and discussing. The following day, we are on the road from 9 AM to apply for a visa at the embassy. After which, we hop on for a road trip which sees us drive from one side of Cairo to the other to see the wedding decorations with the wedding planner. When the hectic day is about to end, I prepare myself for a sleepless night to which I know I’ll wake up to more logistics and duties.

Cold feet or pre-wedding anxiety?

Collins Dictionary defines ‘cold feet’ as being nervous or frightened about something because you think it will fail. That might just be the most accurate description of how I feel at present.

The excitement is unreal. Yet, I cannot help but wonder what may go wrong.

What if we grow apart when we get older? With lasting relationships in Egypt becoming so rare, what if ours gets in line one day?

The idea of living with the person you love is exhilarating. But what if living together turns out to be a challenge? Each of us has lived in different households with different habits throughout our lives.

With increasing responsibilities, what if we cannot tolerate our differences anymore or manage to find a middle ground?

I’ve been living alone for three years. What if I cannot get used to the company?

What if boredom gets in the way over the years and the conversation between us dries up?

What happens if we fight?

What if we stop making each other happy?

Meanwhile, the phrase “life-long commitment” constantly rings in my head.

Before our engagement, it took me a long time to get over my fear of commitment. I knew I was in love, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, I knew we were happy together, but the ‘what ifs’ were what held me back.

Today, these ‘what ifs’ are back again.

Expectations and checklists

Photo credit: Dreamstime

As I flip through my endless wedding checklists and notes, I realize I’m removing one task and adding at least two. Between time-consuming preparations and endless lists of things to buy, I feel like I’m not getting the time I need to take it all in.

From rushing to buy appliances before prices spike and fully furnishing our house, to planning a once-in-a-lifetime wedding and an unforgettable honeymoon, my fiancé had an extra task on his plate: to handle an exhausted and anxious bride-to-be.

As Egyptians, we have a habit of checking up on each other, sometimes too often, and since the wedding is the most important event coming up in my life, friends, family, and colleagues are asking me about it daily. Although many do it to offer assistance in planning and preparation, the consistent questions every other day make it more stressful because they only serve to remind me that I am far from done with the logistics.

Thankfully, my partner is supportive and understands that it is a stressful period. However, I cannot help but compare myself and doubt my skills. I wonder if my food will be as good as his mother’s, or if I would know how to decorate the house, or better yet, take care of it. More so, will I be able to be responsible for a household?

Although these may seem like insignificant concerns, the scarcity of successful marriages make trivial issues like these take up a portion of my nighttime overthinking.

In 2017, the Egyptian Cabinet Information and Decision Support Center issued a report which revealed that Egypt ranks first globally in terms of divorce rates, after it increased from 7 percent to 40 percent in the last 50 years.

Unfortunately, divorce is a widespread phenomenon among Egyptians, particularly Muslims. Although it is uncommon among Christians because of the rules of the Coptic Orthodox Church and verses from the Bible.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:9)

This is the main verse that the Coptic Orthodox church follows with regards to divorce based on its belief that a couple becomes one in holy matrimony.

A crown and a tiara to be worn by the couple at church, as part of the wedding ceremony
Photo credit: Pinterest

Hence, divorce was never an option to be considered, and whether the church allows it or not, I would not get married from the start if I am keeping divorce as an option in my lifeplan. Nevertheless, this adds to the anxiety and pressure of the “life-long commitment” that I’m about to make.

Ultimately, walking down the aisle together has been a dream I cannot wait to see happen, but no one prepares you for the pre-wedding stress and how to deal with it. Everybody tells me that I should enjoy the last few months being engaged because I will never get them back again, but that only adds more anxiety to the situation.

There is also an unfathomable amount of pressure: from social media, to have the most beautiful and picturesque wedding; then, nagging from acquaintances to buy every bit of appliances and furniture for the house before settling in, and distress from people’s comments about investing in the honeymoon because travel becomes rare later on. With each person adding just a bit of their advice, the stress does not ease out, it doubles.

The opinions and ideas expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Egyptian Streets’ editorial team. To submit an opinion article, please email [email protected].

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