The Courage to Call Off the Wedding

Typically, I like my quiet time on a plane. But I couldn’t resist talking with the passenger next to me.  She volunteered that was getting away after calling off her wedding.

Her name was Ellen and she was in her late thirties. This would have been her second marriage. “It’s almost as complicated to call it off as it is to put it together,” she said. “Strange how everyone seems to take my decision personally. My parents,  my daughter, friends and co-workers, all trying to reassure me that it’s natural to feel nervous before your wedding. They’re saying that my fiancée is a good man, that I’m not getting any younger, that I always wanted to have another child. Why is everyone so involved in my decision?”

Ellen sounded like a woman who has the self-esteem and intelligence to listen to her heart and her intuition. I asked her what influenced her decision. She said there were red flags.

One was that her fiancée didn’t take her side when his mother criticized her. Ellen knew it would be a problem because ,when she pointed it out to him, he became defensive and told her she was being too sensitive.  He loved them both. Why should he have to choose between his mother and his wife?

Then there were his put downs and teasing, both public and private. Yes, he usually followed up with an ardent apology, but if he was behaving this way before marriage, what could she expect later?

“It’s the small things that bother me,” she said. “I kept thinking I was being petty, but how many times will I have to justify to myself that it doesn’t bother me when he holds his fork like he’s pitching hay, or talks with food in his mouth, or slurps his soup, or is rude to the waiter or dismissive to the receptionist, or, or , or………

“Ultimately, I didn’t feel like he was right for me,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable for my family and friends right now, so I thought I’d get away and let those who seem so heavily involved in my decision simmer down.”

I think Ellen was smart to call it off.  She knew she couldn’t change his behavior after marriage. She wasn’t apologetic for her decision. She did what she had to do to prevent a stressful marriage from disintegrating into a stressful divorce.

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