Recently, Bronwyn Timmons wrote an article entitled Signs You Should Call Off Your Wedding. As I read the article, I took a trip down memory lane. She accurately described so many feelings I experienced five years ago as I made the difficult decision to end an engagement. Although it might sound scary and impossible to end an engagement, I actually found that many surprising benefits came along with the decision.
1. Respect. When we ended our engagement, I was expecting to feel embarrassed and to be given a whole lot of pity from everyone who found out. I thought people would regard my situation as an example of a failed commitment. Instead, I found people revered me with a greater level of respect. They recognized it took courage to act on the realization that our engagement wasn’t right, and to end it rather than seeing it through out of pride or fear.
2. Wedding planning experience. Of course, the further along in the wedding planning process you are when you end your engagement, the more difficult it will be to undo everything you’ve done so far. On the bright side, though, when you do get married someday and begin to plan another wedding, you’ll already be a pro. You won’t have to make the same mistakes you made the first time around, and you’ll probably be a lot more efficient and have a better idea of what you want. Heck, maybe you’ll already have some planning done you can use for your next wedding, such as your guest list or menu selections.
3. A proposal do-over. Let’s face it – not every proposal goes like a fairy tale. We sometimes make mistakes during and leading up to the proposal that we wish we could take back. (For examples, read Proposal Faux Pas: Five Behaviors a Woman Should Avoid While Getting Engaged.) When the right guy proposes, you’ll already know what to do and what not to do. If your new soon-to-be-fiancé doesn’t mind being reminded that you’ve been engaged before, you could also offer him some proposal advice. I told mine to make it unique and memorable because we’d have to tell the story for the rest of our lives.
4. A new lease on life. You might be worried that after ending an engagement, you will never be happy again. I found the contrary to be true. After the initial shock of ending such a significant relationship, I found that I was happier than I’d been in a long time. During the aftermath of the breakup, I became a version of myself that felt more authentic. I had foregone the wrong life path, which I easily could have followed, and now a brand new one was unfolding before me. I was out of the wrong relationship and now open for the right one. As my priest told me when I asked for advice about whether to end the engagement, “If you break up with him now, some guy out there will be very happy you did.” My husband would concur.
5. Setting an example for others. Perhaps the happiest benefit of ending an engagement was the fact that I became an example for other women who were with the wrong guy. So often, women get engaged or stay in relationships for the wrong reasons. (For examples, read Ten of the Worst Reasons to Get Married.) I was able to show those women that it’s good to recognize you are in the wrong relationship, and it’s perfectly acceptable – in fact, encouraged – to get out.
If you have a voice inside you that says it would be in your best interest to end your engagement, I encourage you to honestly explore that notion. Marriage is a permanent decision and a lifelong commitment – make that commitment to the right person. It might hurt in the beginning, but in the long run, it could be the best decision you ever made.
More related advice:
Casting Back Your Fish: Seven Signs It’s Time to Break Up
How to Get Over a Breakup in Twelve Steps
Five of the WORST Reasons to Stay in a Relationship