So, you’ve finally taken the final step and asked your long-time girlfriend to marry you. Everything seems great, and you’ve started planning the wedding and sharing your happiness with your family and friends. But then, something goes wrong and you’re not sure that she’s the one for you. Maybe it’s something she said or maybe it’s something she did, but either way, you don’t know what to do now.
Your buddies tell you it’s just cold feet and that you’ll get over it. Your mother gushes about the upcoming wedding and how excited she is about it, so you are dealing with family pressure to go through with the wedding too. But there’s still that nagging doubt at the back of your mind. Don’t know what to do? You’re not alone!
Cold Feet Or Something Else?
First of all, before you do anything drastic like call off the wedding, make sure that you know if your doubts are just cold feet or if they are fuelled by something more significant. After all, getting cold feet is a common phenomenon that many about-to-get-married individuals experience, and you shouldn’t necessarily attribute the feeling to some kind of fundamental relationship flaw.
Too many people are searching for the movie-style relationship where every moment is filled with fireworks and love-at-first sight kind of love. And, when things are not like that, people worry that they haven’t found their soul mate or their perfect match and wonder if the grass really is greener on the other side. That’s not a good reason to end a relationship, much less an engagement!
But What If It’s Something More?
Sometimes it’s obvious that there may be a serious problem between an engaged couple. For example, maybe a week after you proposed to her, you found your fiancé in bed with another guy. That’s probably going to present a huge problem for a lot of guys. Or maybe your girlfriend cherishes her girls’ nights out more than she cherishes spending time with you and this is causing some problems. While it may not seem like a significant problem, this may be a sign of a bigger problem like a lack of mutual respect or a poor communication problem. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that a walk down the isle will be the cure for all of these problems. Sometimes you need to confront these problems head on before you consider taking your relationship to the next level. If that means calling off your engagement and taking a few steps back, just remember that it will be cheaper than a divorce.
When You Should Make It Work
If you’ve been together with your girlfriend for a while and you asked her to marry you, there must be something about the relationship that you find meaningful and loving. Don’t forget what brought you together when you are experiencing doubts because no engagement should be ended abruptly and without thought.
Before you come to any decision on your own, talk to your fiancé about your concerns (whatever they may be) and to your friends and family. Look for both support and honesty. If everyone you know tells you that she’s not the one for you and can provide good reasons for their opinions that may be sound advice for you to follow. However, perhaps you are being too picky or unreasonable and your friends and family can tell you that too.
When Things Are Just Not Going To Work
There are many reasons people end engagements – they aren’t ready to get married; one partner cheats on the other during the engagement or any other number of things happens. If that’s the case for you, you need to break off the engagement and you should do it properly. Waiting until the moment before you are supposed to say “I do” isn’t the best time and neither is waiting for the preacher to ask if anyone objects to the marriage.
According to Rachel Safier, author of There Goes the Bride, there are rules of engagement-breaking etiquette that should be followed, if possible. Following these rules will make breaking off the engagement easier for both of you. First, get back the ring. Of course, this is up to her, really. She’ll likely be very upset and angry and may want to keep the ring to get back at you. However, another part of her won’t ever want to see that ring again and she may be happy to give it back. If it gets ugly though, the person who paid for it, presumably the guy, actually has the legal right to get the ring back.
Letting family and friends know about the break-up is the next important step. Depending on how much time there is between the break-up and the wedding date, you may be able to let everyone know by word of mouth. However, if the invitations have been sent out, the caterer booked and out-of-town guests have made arrangements to come in for the wedding, you’ll need to do something more than just hope that your gossipy aunt lets everyone know. An email or a brief mailed notice should suffice in letting everyone know that the wedding’s off.
Most importantly, try to be mature about the entire break-up. At least one of you will be very hurt and that hurt will cause you both to say things that will be hard to hear and harder to forget. Explain to her exactly why you are breaking off the engagement without personally attacking her. Wish her the best in the future and then move forward, making sure to return all of her belongings so that you don’t end up in front of Judge Judy later on!
Obviously it’s difficult to know what you should do when you think you may be in an engagement that’s not going to work. Remember to take the time to think about your decision fully before you make it and seek the help of a counselor if you think that would be helpful.