It’s wedding season, and thousands of couples have passed, as of the moment of engagement, the point of no return. Yes, people do break off engagements, but as likely as not, they follow through and get married, whether it makes sense to do so or not. The inevitable nature of weddings is driven by two powerful (though false) societal beliefs:
- The ultimate achievement in love (especially for women) is a once-in-a-lifetime, dream wedding.
- The most devastating thing that can happen in love is to be left at the altar–the figurative knife-in-the-heart of break-ups.
Challenge these beliefs, or you’ll wish you’d been left at the altar. Too many of us find out the hard way that a dream wedding is cold comfort (if it is remembered at all) in a nightmare marriage, and that the true ultimate achievement in love is what we call Good Love: a healthy, loving relationship of honor, esteem and respect. Here are three reasons to break your engagement now:
You believe everything will change (for the better) after you say “I do.” The truth: A wedding binds and secures what is. It bonds you to one another, but it does not change either of you; rather it affirms who you are—good, bad and ugly. That means, whatever the condition the relationship is in before marriage, it will become more so after the wedding. A strong, healthy relationship gets stronger over time; an ill-established, unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship crumbles and collapses–often with both spouses and their children (not to mention finances, careers and businesses) buried under the rubble.
Consider this powerful advice, shared by Xerox Corp. Chairperson Ursula Burns at a recent executive leadership conference for women: “Divide the things you love about him [or her] by two; multiply the things you hate by 10. Decide if you can live with them then.”
Wedding vows are not magic. Changing the terms of a relationship (from dating, to sex partners, to engaged, to married, to parents, in whatever order), does not change the nature of the people in that relationship. If something about your partner bothers you now, you’d better seriously consider whether you could stand it for the rest of your life. If not, break off the engagement, no matter how many people you disappoint.
You’ve been taught that marrying a person you don’t really know is okay, because it’s true love. You know the drill: Everything clicked right from jump. Your fiancee is perfect in every way, including in bed, or he or she offers other strong attractors (see definition here) that had you ready to put a ring on it after only a few months, or weeks, or days. Won’t it be fun spending the rest of your lives getting to know each other!
Well, probably not. Actually, HELL NO! The truth: Nothing will make you wish you’d been left at the altar more than waking up a few months, or weeks, or days after your wedding and realizing that you married a stranger. A person worth marrying is worth taking the time to know. If taking that time means breaking the engagement, so be it. The right person is worth the wait (and you’re worth the effort); the wrong person is never worth the risk. And speaking of risk: