He called off the wedding

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Right now I am trying to figure out or make sense out of a decision by my daughter’s fiance for calling off their wedding eight weeks before the big day. Thank goodness we had not sent out any invitations yet. On the one hand, I am grateful that he bailed before saying I-do instead of after. Right now my daughter, husband and myself feel completely betrayed by someone we thought we totally knew and trusted. None of us saw this coming. Our interpretation is he just woke up one morning and no longer wanted to get married. The only explanation he can give our daughter is I am feeling overwhelmed by everything.

This is a couple that has dated for three years and been engaged for nine months. There was never any pressure to propose. In fact, our daughter said she would have been perfectly happy had they still just been dating. There were no financial issues. They got along beautifully and we all thought they were two peas in a pod. To say the least, we are completely shocked and just trying to figure out how any of us will ever trust him or another guy.

He claims to love our daughter very much and he does not want out of the relationship. He wants to still call and see her exclusively. Naturally, she loves him unconditionally and right now is OK with this and she wants to give him space and be patient. I absolutely do not know what advice to give her and he won’t face us. This happened two weeks ago and he does not want to see us or talk to us at all. My husband and I adored him and would have done anything for him. He was extremely respectful towards us and our daughter and he was doting and loving towards her whenever we saw them together. They never not got along.

How should we proceed? We feel like our daughter needs to steer clear. He showed excitement and interest in all of the wedding plans — they made all of the decisions together. No one tried to force him or talk him into doing anything he wasn’t completely OK with. It is almost like we have been totally blindsided and deceived by all of his actions. We had just seen both of them a few days before his announcement. Spent several hours together eating, talking and laughing — he showed no signs of hesitation what-so-ever. It is almost like he is this fake person that we do not know.

Right now my husband and I don’t feel we could believe anything he says.

A: Whoa. Slow down. You are much, much too upset to make any good decisions. You are doing lots of blaming and judging and not much in the way of trying to understand. A young man doesn’t make this kind of decision lightly. I don’t believe you misjudged his character over all these years. Something serious is going on for him.

As hard as it may be for you, you really have to turn this over to your daughter. She needs to work out her relationship with the man she loves. Pressure from you one way or another isn’t going to be helpful. Love her. Tell her you have confidence in her judgment and that you will stand behind whatever she decides she needs to do. Then take a little distance.

Despite your belief that the fiance was excited and ready to marry, it may be that he got caught up in other people’s enthusiasm and that he simply isn’t quite there. (As you said, better that he figure that out before the wedding than after.) These kids are young. They may need a little more time before taking the next step. Please be generous and support them in that struggle.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). He called off the wedding. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/06/2074/