I’m having serious doubts about getting married next month. My fiancé is a good person, he has a kind family, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s not the right person for me. Our personalities are so different and when we argue, I feel small. How do can I say to someone I’m supposed to love, “I can’t marry you”?
Getting married is a brave first step into a committed future together as partners. But just as courageous a step is deciding that this marriage is not a good fit. Ending an engagement is a fraught and complex process: explaining the decision to your fiancé, cancelling wedding plans and vendor contracts, notifying guests and families, healing and gaining personal insight about how the relationship continued this far. It is often an emotionally painful and confusing experience.
Just this weekend, there was a story on NPR about calling off the wedding. It profiled three individuals who had decided to cancel their engagements, too. The story caught my attention as a premarital counselor in Bethesda, MD because these kinds of decisions are absolutely a reality and deserve acknowledgment. All premarital couples, regardless of how they’re feeling about the wedding and whether they ultimately decide to get married, deserve support.
Here is an except from the article that accompanies the NPR audio transcript:
Nikki Vargas’ unraveling happened just a couple weeks out from her wedding. Her fiancé was on his bachelor party weekend with friends, when she packed a backpack and went to South America by herself. When she was hiking in the jungle she had an epiphany.
“I didn’t want to get married,” she recalls. “It was the first time I’d said it out loud.”
Stella Grizont, too, remembers the moment it all came crashing down.
“There was one day where I was just lying on the bed and I got a call from my aunt. And she’s’ like, ‘How are you?’ and I just started crying. … I wasn’t happy at all. And she just said, you know, you don’t have to do this. It was almost like that was the permission I needed.”
In some ways, says Jonathan Brill, acknowledging for himself that he didn’t want to go through with the wedding was the easy part.
“When you have a relationship that ends that way, it’s not ending with one person, you’re breaking up with her family,” Brill says. “So I remember having to take her little brother out and spend time explaining it to him.”
You don’t have to make this decision on your own–seeking therapy can provide emotional support and a place to care for yourself during this difficult time.
Sometimes the decision to call off the wedding is made before seeking counseling. Individual therapy or couples therapy helps each partner–separately or together–process the decision, heal the loss of the relationship, and look forward to the future. Other times the decision to end the engagement is made as part of discernment counseling. Discernment counseling is a type of therapy specifically designed for mixed-agenda couples where one partner wants the relationship to continue and the other partner isn’t fully committed to remaining together. This type of counseling helps each partner–separately and together–make a wise decision about the future of the relationship.
Emily Cook Therapy in Bethesda, MD specializes in relationship therapy. Experienced individual counselors, couples therapists, premarital counselors, and discernment counselors have immediate availability for new appointments. Appointments are available weekday mornings, afternoons, and evenings, as well as on weekends. Call today. We can help.