Why Calling Off My Wedding Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

Trust your gut

I found APW soon after I got engaged. I stumbled upon it after Googling, “how to call off your wedding.”

I knew before he proposed that it wasn’t working. That voice deep inside—call it your sense of self, intuition, the Holy Spirit, whatever—you know what I’m talking about. That voice had been speaking to me in stern voices for some time. I was about to break it off when we got engaged. I sometimes wonder if the reason he proposed was because deep inside he knew, too, that I had doubts and he was trying to save it. I’ll never know the answer to that.

I wrote about this for APW in early 2012. The timing of it all couldn’t have been more dramatic; it was a month before our wedding when I told him I had doubts. The next day, I became very sick with what turned out to be a brain tumor. We had to cancel the wedding not just because I wasn’t sure, but because I physically couldn’t have made it though the ceremony we had planned. The summer felt like a living nightmare of fights and pain, both between the two of us and within myself. That November, I left.

Leaving turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.

I remember trying to talk myself out of it. I would reason with that internal voice, tell it that really, couldn’t it see, we did belong together. We both loved to run trails, go to rockabilly concerts, and follow baseball. We were both mainly vegetarian, and writers. We had so much in common, I would argue with myself. He stood beside me through major illnesses.

Lesson learned: don’t do that. Don’t argue with yourself, when you know what you have to do but it’s hard and you don’t know how you’re going to pull if off or why, exactly, you feel like that’s the thing to do.

Because I didn’t take into account, when I made those arguments, that I also never felt completely relaxed around him. I obsessed over whether the house was clean enough for him when he got home. He got mad if my toenails weren’t painted and pretty, or if I talked to any of my old guy friends (or, for that matter, girlfriends that he didn’t approve of). I was embarrassed to tell him some of the music I listened to in the car by myself, for fear he would make fun of it. He made it clear that he didn’t like my family.

We fought over my career, and how he felt I needed to put our future family first and quit following my passion—something that rarely pays extremely well, but I could easily live on while putting money aside—for a job that made more money.

And so I found myself living what started to feel like a double life. I emailed my old guy friends and called them when he wasn’t home (nothing inappropriate, I just didn’t agree that I should cut them out of my life. Looking back, that should have been a sign). I visited my family in the Midwest by myself. I met girlfriends for lunch without him. I bought new tires for my car, even though he said I should sell my beloved Jeep Wrangler and buy something more practical and comfortable for him to ride in.

Sometimes when I remember that relationship I’m embarrassed. I mean, how could I be with someone who made me feel like I was walking on eggshells in my own house? But looking back, I see that he does have things in common with the man I would like to be my future husband—he’s responsible, funny, outdoorsy. He supported me through very, very tough times. But I’ve never regretted leaving. Not for one millisecond. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and the most difficult to execute.

Since then, other things have come up that I wasn’t sure how to handle, and I’ve started listening for that inner voice to tell me where to go, instead of just doing what’s comfortable. Last month, almost half the staff at my company was laid off. About the same time, my landlords told me I had to move out at the end of August.

So now I’m staying with relatives, looking for a new place to live, and looking for a new job (I was not one of the ones laid off, thank goodness, but that inner voice is telling me the company may not be so stable right now). I’m also thinking about going for it and starting my own business, without the backup support of a significant other (once Obamacare kicks in in January, and I can buy my own healthcare).

I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop a few months ago, next to a guy whom I totally hit it off with. He was tall, hot, adorable. We immediately clicked. I left before he did, and when I got home, about five minutes away, I had this feeling that I needed to go back and give him my number. So I did. He was still there. His smile was huge. We went out that night.

We dated for about a month, the first man I’d gone out with since my fiancé. While it didn’t work out, he was ridiculously lovely and made me feel better about myself than I had in ages. I’ll always be thankful I gave him my number that day, and to him for reminding me that there are men like that out there. Now, it’s on to the next adventure.

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  • Melinda

    Thank you so much for this post! While I didn’t call off a wedding, I did very recently end a four-year relationship that was heading for marriage. And like you, there were qualities about him that I do want in a life partner– super funny, feminist, cat lover, affectionate. But he still wasn’t right for me. I need someone more enthusiastic and positive about life, someone who can just be happy for me when something good happens without me begging him to be.

    And like you, it is the best decision I have made in a very long time. I am SO excited for what lies ahead and hope you are, too!

  • Good for you! I hope if you do start your own business, you’ll write again and tell us all about it.

  • Paranoid Libra

    Wow he put you through a lot. So glad to hear you are feeling better about dating again and overall asides the landlord thing doing well. Good luck with your business!

    P.S. Anyone who would try to get rid of my wrangler would be axed out of my life too. That thing is a beast an although mine is old and has a lot of miles I still have it as a second vehicle because well its a Jeep thing ;)

  • Shiri

    Between this post and the last one, I’m astounded by how brave you are. Not just for your attitude about your illnesses, but for your attitude about your relationship, as well, and for putting it all out here.

    Also, thank god for the end of being denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions.

    • Winter

      I accidently reported the comment while trying to exactly it, sorry! Also, this post was a good reminder to stop and listen to the still small voice in our heads that knows what we really need in our lives.

  • Kestrel

    I hope this isn’t inappropriate, but I’d like to thank you for writing this because I feel a lot better about marrying my SO. In two weeks, we’ll be ‘officially engaged’ (aka, we’re actually going to tell everyone and put it on facebook) and I’ve been having jitters.

    But when I think about it, I can be completely, 100% myself with him, and that’s amazing as I’m not 100% myself with anyone else. (Hell, he even knows about my bad, bad attempts at fan fiction).

    I think that everyone gets a bit nervous when their life is about to change, but you really helped me step back, analyze the situation and realize that those nagging voice in my head are actually just voices worried about change – not worried about marrying my SO.

    • Lindsey d.

      Yes! When I saw the headline, I immediately started planning “why so depressing lately, APW?” comment, but then I actually felt so much better after reading the column. It also validated my cold feet as simply an aversion to change (and grief over leaving my home to move into his – I can’t wait to live with him, but I have to mourn the place I built as a home for myself). This weekend, I laughed until I could barely breath telling my fiance about how I twice scared myself with my own hair, something I would tell only him (and strangers on the internet).

      However, I’m sending this post to a friend who called off an engagement to a guy who wanted her to do all the compromising in the relationship. I’m so proud of her for starting a new life without him. It’s been about 10 months and she still loves him (but knows he is terrible for her). This might make her feel better about her choice.

    • Miel

      I’m starting to think whether you feel comfortable enough with your SO to tell them about your fan fiction might be the gold standard for figuring out if they’re the right one…

      • Lindsey d.

        Or admitting that you totally had a thing for a specific boy band member (Nick Carter was my fan fiction-writing equivalent).

        • Had a thing? I am not ashamed. I have a full-fledged thing for boy bands of ages past. or put another way – you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my [crazy ’90s nerdy dance parties]

      • Rebecca


      • Kestrel

        Mine were particularly bad as I wrote them when I was in late high school/early college (when we first started dating). Oh, god it’s awful. I’m a horrible writer, and (as many people who try to write fan fiction) insisted on perfecting myself and putting myself in the story.

        I actually kind of want to try again as I feel I’m a lot more comfortable with failure in general now, although the only writing I’ve done lately is technical or on internet forums!

    • Ella

      Fan fiction is awesome, and I’m sure you were wonderful. :)

    • Yup! Big life changes are totally scary! I went through a month or two of “What if we are making a terrible mistake?!?!?!” a short time after we got engaged. But it wasn’t over big things, it was over dumb little things and, really, more about the terrifying enormity of “forever.” My now-husband and I talked it through, and then I felt waaaaaaay better. My previous relationship lasted for six years and, while we never got engaged, I did a lot of ignoring of that nagging little voice in my head for years before I finally acknowledged that I had to get out. Definitely important to try to discern the difference between “I’m just scared of taking this huge life step” and “legitimate warning from my subconscious.”

    • Yes! This! I appreciate everything about this post, but personally, I most appreciate the insight into what was wrong and why it was right for the author to leave – because it gave me perspective on my own experience.

      I too got really nervous and jittery when my now-husband and I got engaged, and I worried a lot that that Meant Something. I deal with severe anxiety, and change (even good change) can be very hard for me; so I was able to see that the nerves were more about my personality than my husband. But still… the message I got so much growing up was that you Just Know and it Just Feels Right, and so the fact that I didn’t feel those things, that what I felt instead was freaked out made me, well, even more nervous. I obviously worked through it and went ahead and got married, which I’m very glad I did.

      But it still really helps to hear some of the facts behind where that voice inside came from for the writer – because it helps me see the difference between that knowing voice and my own nervous voice (which is not my knowing voice). I am so grateful for the author’s candor and really appreciate her sharing.

      • catherine

        I totally relate to what you wrote! It’s important to be able to tell the difference between Fear Voice and real, actual red flags, as in – how your partner treats you. I too am engaged and my anxiety set in about two months before she proposed. All the sudden the rug was pulled out from under me. Sent me on a long soul-meeting journey and I’m learning about all the subconscious fear inside me, the Fear Voices, and having to come face to face with the anxiety and fear I’ve had all my life – all thanks to this relationship. Aint love grand? Oh, and there is an AWESOME APW post called Weddings, Marriage, & Anxiety or something like that. Reading that and the SO MANY COMMENTS of APW-ers relating really really helped me.

      • catherine
        • That’s such a great post – thank you for sharing it! It really is so helpful for me, always, to hear of others’ similar experiences. It’s one of the reasons I love APW so much – it shows how many more narratives there are than just our dominant cultural ones and how valuable all that different experience is.

      • Nicole

        I never really got the You Just Know feeling either (well, not consistently) and I started my freak out about 5 minutes after he proposed. It was only after I talked to him and realized that he was really scared too that I calmed down a bit. As far as knowing if he’s the right choice or not, I think that if you’re wonderful friends and lovers, communicate well, and have reasonably frequent moments of looking at him and thinking “wow, I *really* love you”, then it will all work out.

        • catherine

          Wow Nicole, love this:. As far as knowing if he’s the right choice or not, I think that if you’re wonderful friends and lovers, communicate well, and have reasonably frequent moments of looking at him and thinking “wow, I *really* love you”, then it will all work out.

          ^so simple, love it.

          at the end of the day, having a relationship of kindness and respect, trust, faith, and conscious loving is really all ya need, in my opinion :) and a willingness to take responsibility for your feelings and a desire to learn about love together.

          • I think this is also really wise and great:
            “at the end of the day, having a relationship of kindness and respect, trust, faith, and conscious loving is really all ya need, in my opinion :) and a willingness to take responsibility for your feelings and a desire to learn about love together.”

  • Amy March

    This is so interesting. And I would love to see a “how did you know” open thread- knowing it’s right or wrong. Is it really In His Kiss? :)

  • Kh

    My dear friend is about to marry someone that sounds eerily similar in two weeks and it makes me incredibly sad. You have no idea how much I admire your inner strength and trust in that tiny voice in the back of your mind that told you to go. Good for you and I wish more people had your courage.

    • Paranoid Libra

      KH I know it can be difficult to have to stand on the side lines and watch. Maybe you can just grab coffee with her and just have a talk with her gently not necessarily directly asking her if she is nervous about the big change coming up. Then just say you are there for her no matter what.

      Then you have to sit back and let her make the mistake if she still continues on because some people have to make the mistake in order to learn from it while others can realize it beforehand and back away in the nick of time. I know it sucks to watch and it’s hard to not come right out and say hey maybe you should hold off but remember just like How I Met Your Mother, some mistakes need to be made.

    • JustAnotherBlue

      So, I’m not suggesting that you line her out and demand she call it off, or even get really vocal with your disapproval…but I was in a similar situation to the OP (I knew it was wrong when he proposed, was actually working my way up to breaking it off, and then said “yes” because I didn’t know what else to do under the circumstances). Only I went through with it and got married, doubting the whole time. My self esteem at the time was crap, and I dismissed my doubts as being part of my mental illness. Nobody, not my friends or my family, ever suggested to me that I might not be making a good choice or talked to me at all about any doubts they might have had. Nobody ever said to me “Are you SURE you want to do this? Because if you don’t, we support you.” If someone had, I would have almost assuredly backed out and saved myself four years of miserable marriage. Just putting that out there.

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m in a long term relationship that is headed for marriage that I know isn’t right. But I keep arguing with that stern voice inside, saying, but we like the same things and have so much in common, and he’s not boring. But I, too, am not comfortable being myself around him; I’m lonely for real connection and intimacy. But walking away is so hard and complicated and daunting. Thank you for reminding me that even though it’s hard, doing what’s right for you is important and worth it.

    • C

      Good luck, and don’t talk yourself out of listening to that voice. It knows what it’s talking about.

    • C

      Also, HUGS.

      • Jessica

        Thanks. It’s just such a hard conversation to have with yourself. But you’re right, and so is that voice.

        • Sarah McD

          I kept arguing with my voice too. He was everything I wanted in a partner and I couldn’t name why exactly I felt so restless and caged in the relationship. But I haven’t regretted walking away (without a “real” reason, because I was waiting for him to do something wrong so I could blame that on why I left) and now I’m engaged to exactly the right man for me. After falling in love with my now-fiancé, I was able to understand why I wasn’t satisfied in my last relationship. That voice in your head is a lot smarter than we every give it credit!

    • Megan

      This post resonated with me so much. And your comment motivated me to write in. I was in a relationship where I also didn’t feel like things were right even thought things looks great from the outside, we were headed toward marriage, and I kept trying to justify things to myself (“we are the same religion, and that’s so hard to find! we have so much in common!”). I even broke up with him…for a whole week, before the pressure from him and my family convinced me to try again. Long story short – I got married, he was verbally abusive, and after 4 very very very difficult years I got divorced. And here’s what I’ve learned that I want to pass on to you: you don’t have to have the vocabulary to explain why it isn’t working to know it isn’t working and leave. Don’t let yourself walk into the marriage and spend x years of your life in pain just to develop the vocabulary. It may be very hard to walk away. It was very very hard for me to get divorced. But SO MANY good things came into my life once I did. May it be the same for you=) Best of luck!

    • Beth

      I’ve been there and I’m sorry you’re going through it. I was with someone for 4.5 years who I was 100% sure was the person I was going to marry. Not a doubt in my mind that we could work through any problem. Even though we had our issues and I constantly felt like I was walking on eggshells and he kept blaming me/our relationship for why he wasn’t happy with his life, we also had a lot of good times and a lot of love between us. It wasn’t until about 3 months before we broke up that I realized it might not actually be the right thing. It’s heart breaking, but it was the right choice to leave. We’re still friends (kind of), and now that I’m married to someone else, when I see my ex it is glaringly obvious that I could never ever be with him again.

      The hardest part of the whole thing was that it kind of destroyed my 100% certainty for future relationships. Even with my now husband, I find myself occasionally worrying, “If I was SO sure and SO wrong about that relationship, how can I be sure of any relationship?” But I have no real basis for that worry and luckily relationships require more than one person and my dude is constantly calming these fears by being his awesome self. Plus it was a jolt of reality that you can’t just “be sure” and have that be enough. You both have to be involved in the act of making it work.

      Hugs and good luck with whatever you decide.

    • Aims

      I’m so with you lady. Going through this myself right now. I’m finally feeling calm about my decision to leave, but now I just have to figure out a few logistical things (as in Visas, we’re in Australia, I’m tied to his visa and I ain’t ready to leave this country yet) before I make the leap.

      For me, I spent a lot of time writing to myself about what exactly I was struggling with. I am not a journaler usually, but I used long train rides to take the time to talk to myself. I am generally better at writing my thoughts than sharing them verbally or even just thinking them to myself. I used songs and tv shows and blogs and other peoples’ comments to feel less alone in this and to help me understand why others came to a similar decision.

      My biggest struggle has always been: how do I convince him and explain to him that this is over and that there is nothing we can do to fix it? Then how do I explain to my nearest and dearest that I’m not making some crazy rash decision because from their perspective, our relationship looks awesome (people often tell us how great we are together, man that makes it tough when in my head I’m on my way out)? Anyway, today I had a slight epiphany about how to make this not about him and more about our relationship.

      Basically, I realized that I’m a feeler, I experience and react to the world predominantly through my feelings. Obviously I can think things through and be logical, but how I feel matters a lot to me. My guy is the opposite. He is a thinker, through and through. He is always thinking and introspecting and carefully considering everything before he reacts or responds. I tend to blurt out what’s on my mind, then reshape the thoughts as I work through my feelings. Of course, he isn’t devoid of feeling, it’s just rare that his feelings about something would over ride his thoughts. In some ways, we compliment each other, yin to yang. And we have a lot of things in common, even many of our values. But there are many, many things that we have trouble understanding about each other. We could probably make this work to some degree, in fact we have for over 8yrs, but now I’m thinking why would we work so hard for something that’s not even great? Please don’t misunderstand me, obviously relationships are going to take work, but there must be a line where the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t weigh out. I always thought we were good at communicating, but recently I realized we aren’t. There are many things I am very careful as to how I present, or don’t even tell him at all because of how I think/know he’ll react. I’m sure he does the same with me.

      Anyway, now I just have to stand my ground and help him to realize that this isn’t working.

      I hope you can find your way too. Be strong ladies. :)

  • Anonymous

    I always appreciate reading another persons perspective on leaving a relationship that just wasn’t right. One thing I haven’t seen here yet though, is how to deal with being a person who can leave, in future relationships.

    Although I’m married and very in love, when things get tough, my instinct is always to run. Having walked away from a very long term relationship once, its difficult to shut off that valve. The “I’m strong enough to leave” valve. Despite hard work and knowing that my husband fears I will leave, I still struggle with telling him I won’t leave. Because I will. After I’ve tried everything else of course, but I will leave if things aren’t good for long enough. I thought for a while my new found strength would serve me well for the rest of my life but since meeting my husband just a few months after I found my strength, its felt more like a weakness and one I don’t know how to combat.

    • Another Anonymous

      I can completely relate to your “I’m strong enough to leave” valve and the instinct to run. I too am very in love and happy building our life together – we just bought a home, our wedding is in one year. Although I haven’t ever left for the long term, I know I physically CAN because I have an amazing support system and have always been independent. There was even an incident a few months after we got engaged where I left the ring with him and went home (we weren’t living together yet). It was resolved quickly after, but the fact that I was able to do that (although upset) made me feel like I would be able to do it forever.

      Add to this the fact that my fiance’s mother has told me she wishes she left fiance’s father years ago. They have been married for 25+ years and it scares me that that is what her life is and she wishes it was different.

      This instinct to run when times get tough has been very difficult – I can’t tell if it’s that “little voice” everyone is talking about or just fear. I have battled unhappiness and slight depression my whole life, even before I met my fiance, so it could also be my personal unbalanced unhappiness too. I was SO HAPPY when he proposed, I am happy making wedding arrangements, but sometimes there is just a black cloud over my head and it’s hard to differentiate my personal unhappiness from our relationship.

      Eek, this was longer than I had anticipated. Hopefully someone will have some words of wisdom.

      • Anonymous

        “I have battled unhappiness and slight depression my whole life, even before I met my fiance, so it could also be my personal unbalanced unhappiness too.”

        THIS. You’ve hit on another aspect for this for me as well. Cuz I’ve gots issues. Lots. They affect everything about me and until I get better at understanding when a problem is me because its pushing bad buttons or triggering bad reactions, or when a problem is my husband being a jerk, until I get better at distinguishing, I will continue to feel this struggle.

        I use the litmus test my therapist gave me for when he and I first started dating and I started feeling like running every time something went wrong between us but knew rationally I shouldn’t run. She told me to ask myself a question and as long as the answer was yes, I could stay in the relationship without worrying I was making too many concessions or trapping myself with someone who would never be what I wanted (a fear from the crappy long term relationship I trapped myself in for too long): Does he make me happy?

        Almost 4 years after we started dating, I can still say, even on days when I hate him or I think he’s responsible for me feeling terrible – yeah I want to punch him, but he still makes me happier than I’ve ever been. If the answer to that question is ever no, I’ll come up with a new game plan. In the meantime, it keeps me steady and with my feet planted firmly in our life instead of heading for the door every time I get upset.

    • Katie C

      I know EXACTLY how you feel. I divorced when it was not worth the fight anymore. I tried everything, but nothing worked. I finally found the strength to walk away when I felt I had no choice, and was proud of that strength. I’m now engaged and find that I face the same dilemma. I know I can walk away, and that I’ll be fine. However, he’s amaizng and nothing like my ex. He stands beside me in all things, and we have such a blast together. This is the first time I’ve truely felt like part of a partnership.

      The problem I have is that every time we have an argument, I too find myself thinking “I can just go.” I think my flight instinct has taken over, and I’m not sure how to quiet it down. Yes, I’m strong enough to walk away if the need arises, but there is no need. Just because I can doesn’t mean I SHOULD. The only solution I have been able to come up with is to stick it out and talk myself down. I’ve been working with a therapist and her advice is to feel those emotions and honor them. Then put them away where they belong. Everyone has conflicting emotions, but, especially when fear is involved, you should acknowledge them, then think carefully about how you react. For me, fear of being so deeply emotionally devasated again keeps that flight instinct near the surface.

      It’s good to know there are others out there who face similar turmoil. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m so happy to have found this blog.

      • Anonymous

        I can’t tell you both how much it means to know I’m not the only one with this problem. It’s actually also been a problem with friendships. See when I found the strength to leave that bad long term relationship, I also ended most of my friendships (as they were pretty terrible for me too). Now, as I struggle to make new friends, I’m constantly on the alert for if these friends are good for me or not. I constantly work on telling myself to not take things personally if someone doesn’t contact me back or telling myself that just because a new friend doesn’t completely get me (because no one does) it doesn’t mean we can’t have a wonderful relationship.

        In some ways, part of my own problem with wanting to leave, is not trusting that I pick people who are good for me or who care about me. I don’t know if that resonates with either of you, but I think its a strength I should work on – trusting myself and trusting I will know when someone is mistreating me.

        • Katie C

          HA! I almost mentioned that I have similar issues with friends, but decided to leave the context to romantic relationships as that’s where the topic started.

          When I left my ex, I too lost friends. I figured out that in many ways, those relationships were as unbalanced as my marriage. I made all of the concessions. I had to hide parts of myself that they did not approve of. Once I discovered the strength to walk away from my marriage, I then transferred that to other relationships. Now, I struggle to make friends. I want so much to find like minded people I can be around, who can be relied on and really trusted. People who will truely appreciate me, in all of my imperfect glory. At the same time, I’m constantly on the look-out for people who just want to take advantage of me, and keep people at arm’s length as self-defense. I have finally decided to just go ahead and put myself out there in an effort to push past all of this. I have joined meetup.com and joined a book club, and photography group. I really hope that exposing myself to new and different people will help me.

          Again, so thrilled to find kindred spirits!

          • dragonzflame

            *Gasp* a thousand times yes!

            Losing friends was a bigger kicker than getting out of that relationship – especially my ‘best’ friend who I’d known since I was four. But as she was engaged to one of my ex’s friends, a group alpha male who liked to dictate who everyone else was friends with, it wasn’t surprising. And as it turned out, in the aftermath, not one person asked if I was okay.

            Screw that. Life’s so much better now.

      • Another Anonymous

        This is why APW ROCKS!

        Katie, thank you for “Just because I can doesn’t mean I SHOULD.” and for “Everyone has conflicting emotions, but, especially when fear is involved, you should acknowledge them, then think carefully about how you react.”

        And girls, I’ve always struggled with the girlfriend thing – have had some friend-break-ups for sure (APW had a great article about that here once). Maybe we should hang.


        • Anonymous

          This whole thread is making me once again wish there was a way to find and hook up with folks with similar paths/backgrounds/issues/etc. Part of the reason I think its hard to make friends and part of the reason I feel misunderstood is not having a very expansive group of people who get me. People who’ve lived through the same kind of stuff, or people who’ve changed into the same kind of person as me. It seems like if there was a place online, where you could type in the issue you’re currently having (example: when the relationship gets tough – I want to run) and having a message board or similar where you can connect with others like you. And when you’ve got a problem and need advice, you can easily find someone else who found out their hubs likes to wear ladies unders or someone else who’s lost a baby or someone else who doesn’t have contact with their family. Like an online, never ending group therapy session. I’ve never been in group therapy, but the longer I struggle with feeling alone, the more I wish I had an addiction or problem that has group therapy groups attached to it.

          • MDAnonForNow

            Group therapy isn’t just for addictions and such. I battled some mild depression in grad school and for a semester did individual therapy, but for the 2nd year of my masters, I was in group therapy. It was through the university, but it was a a group of students (undergrad & grad) who sat down with a psychologist once a week to talk through issues we were having – struggling with fitting in, uncertainty about life, school, etc.

            I suggest checking around – there may be programs in your area that have group therapy/support groups for depression/divorce/grief, etc. I know local churches in my area of Baltimore’s suburbs run some of these kinds of things, as do churches in Eastern PA where I grew up. Maybe your county Health Dept has resources for you.

    • Just here to say you’re not alone. I struggled with this a lot. I was in a long-term, super unhealthy relationship before and it took me years to work up the strength to walk away. Even though I love my now-husband very much, there were times (particularly early on) when every little thing that went wrong or that we had to work on seemed like a red flag that would make my brain go “Will this be terrible again? SHOULD I LEAVE?” Eventually, I realized that it was less a legit feeling that I should leave, and more a deep fear that I would make the same mistake again. I don’t feel that way anymore (though I had a brief flare up of fear after we got engaged that I mentioned above), though… so I think soul-searching and trying to figure out what was at the root of it all really helped.

  • Amy

    Thank you for the reminder to listen to that “little voice”, it is hard sometimes but so very important.

  • Side note: I hope you go for it with your own business! Passion and love for what you’re creating will go a long, long way. My own home business hasn’t gotten big enough to support me yet, but I’m so glad I have taken the first steps on that path and kicking myself for not doing it sooner! :)

  • marie

    I, too, found APW not long before I called off my wedding… and I, too, heard but did not heed the little voice for many months– thereby impeding any chance of making real progress in the first place. Loving relationships are all about deciding, committing, actively seeking the good in each other. If your heart is already, fundamentally out, I think it is hard (impossible?) to really give things an honest chance for change.

    This beautiful Dear Sugar column really resonated with me at the time, and helped me come to my resolution to end things, painful though it was:

    I think she writes with such wisdom and grace.

    • This statement is so wise: “Loving relationships are all about deciding, committing, actively seeking the good in each other.” I’m going to remember that, especially the “actively seeking the good in each other” part. Thank you!

    • I also found this column at just-the-right-time-for-me. I remember sitting alone, on the living room floor in our old house, sobbing over All of the Words. “And if there’s one thing I believe more than I believe anything else, it’s that you can’t fake the core. The truth that lives there will eventually win out.”

  • Stalking Sarah

    THIS is why I read APW after getting married: Quality, thoughtful writing about The Big Things.

  • KB

    “Sometimes when I remember that relationship I’m embarrassed.”

    This – I feel like everyone has at least one relationship that they look back on and think, “Ugh, I can’t believe I dated that person…” I myself have one ex who I’d be MORTIFIED if any of my friends ever met because he was just so wrong for me on eight million levels. I ran into him on the street the other day and we had a very pleasant 5 minute exchange, but when we walked away, I literally smacked my palm to my forehead and muttered, “WHAT was I THINKING???”

  • Allie

    “Sometimes when I remember that relationship I’m embarrassed. I mean, how could I be with someone who made me feel like I was walking on eggshells in my own house? … But I’ve never regretted leaving. Not for one millisecond. It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and the most difficult to execute.”

    All of this.

  • JR

    There are a lot of posts on this website I’ve enjoyed reading, but in the last 4-6 weeks it really has turned into the most depressing litany of disasters, I’ve pretty much given up reading it. One story after another about divorces, failed relationships, calling off weddings, whole series of these in fact. Why not just go all the way and change the name to “A Practical Break-up”? I’ve never seen a wedding website that’s so focused on not weddings. Clearly it’s resonating with some of the readers judging by the comments but I wonder how many others (my partner and I, for instance) have pretty much lost interest because these posts are so damn depressing and have nothing to do with actually having weddings, practical or otherwise.

    • Elaine

      IMO, these are stories about real relationships by real people. Every other wedding resources in the world has information on planning a party; it’s so much harder to find information on topics this site has the insight to broach. Weddings aren’t just about frivolity; even in the happiest of relationships, they can bring up some weighty issues. If you’re not considering the hard stuff, IMO, you’re not approaching marriage with the seriousness it deserves. And hey, if you’re only interested in the “happy, happy, joy, joy” stories, you can choose to selectively search for those.

    • catherine

      I agree with Elaine’s comment, but also remember that this month’s theme is What I Learned – so I was prepared for a few more “hard stuff” stories…hard stuff often leads to learning growth. I understand not wanting to read upsetting stories all the time, but I feel like it’s usually not like this.

  • Elaine

    This is so, so lovely! I also was half of a broken engagement 5.5 years ago, and life post-break up has been so much richer than I could have ever expected. My ex sounds like yours in many ways: a man with some wonderful qualities, but ultimately, not someone with whom my dreams were aligned. Wishing you all the best as you proceed on your journey.

  • Kim

    I needed this! I have come down off the post engagement high to realise that even after 5 years together, he’s only recently said that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever want children. Being a mother has always been a big part of my plan for my life, and now I’m kicking myself for us not sitting down and discussing such an important issue before getting swept up in the excitement and romance of engagement. I have also realised that having a wedding is never going to be financial priority for him anyway, and I’m beginning to doubt we will ever actually get married.
    So is this it? Do I wait and plan and dream and hope he’ll come around? Or do I leave? Because I suffer from depression he has always talked me round in the past, but I just don’t think it’s right anymore and I can’t tell whether it’s all in my head. This post helps so much – “Don’t argue with yourself, when you know what you have to do but it’s hard and you don’t know how you’re going to pull if off or why, exactly, you feel like that’s the thing to do.” THANK YOU.

  • I think you’re amazing.

    I wish I had of listened to my own voice, but I didn’t. During and after the divorce, I regretted that big time.