We Need More Broken Engagements

I can remember hearing stories of a wedding being called off and thinking it was the most intense, heartbreaking yet fascinating thing. I mean, isn’t being engaged the most exciting perfect time of your life? How did you say yes and then only a few short months later, you are saying no. Intriguing and terrifying that one’s mind could change about something so major when so many people were watching.

Fast forward to now. I so wish there were more broken engagements. When I coached women who were ending their marriages, I was astonished how many of them reported a deep knowing on their wedding day that they were making a mistake. The reasons they ignored that inner voice and proceeded with the wedding were always logistical considerations like the money that had already been spent, the dress purchased, the venue booked, or the invitations mailed. Others were just overwhelmed at the idea of how to tell the entire guest list that the wedding was called off- it just felt like they couldn’t disappoint or inconvenience that many people. It was also really embarrassing to talk about a wedding for months and then admit it was a mistake. And of course, there were those who reported simply not wanting to break their fiance’s heart in such an epic and humiliating way. Having been a bride caught up in the swirl that is planning a big affair, I can see how it feels impossible to get off that train once it gets going.

But the engagement is a sacred season that gives us a particularly clean window through which to see our relationship in a new way. When you are engaged, you are in a liminal phase- with one foot out of your old life and one foot in your new one- not exactly single, but not quite married. You are in the in-between. And it can feel simultaneously exhilarating and disorienting. So much is changing in our closest relationships and so many things are coming up emotionally. And yet all the focus is on the wedding day. We aren’t encouraged to create a space to get quiet and still and listen to our own voice or intuition. Instead, we are ushered into a frenzy of planning and angsting about an instagram worthy wedding. There isn’t a voice in the industry asking brides- how do you feel now? Do you still want this? What do you most want? What do you most fear?

So, let me be that voice. In between the cake tasting and dress fitting- take time alone, and ask yourself those questions. Allow whatever wants to come up, to come up. You can do this through journaling, meditating, therapy, or even just a quiet walk or yoga session where you set the intention to answer those questions. Or you can work with a life coach, like myself, who is experienced in helping brides specifically get super clear on the best path forward. It takes accessing your own inner knowing (which can be difficult to do under stress). But you have all the answers you ever need. And then it’s remembering that you can change your mind. That your happiness is worth more than a lost venue deposit or designer dress you can’t return. And that true love demands honestly. Truth and love are the same thing. Your fiance deserves that much. And so do you. Besides, a broken engagement is a far more romantic a story to tell than the one about divorce.

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