Going through a broken engagement can be difficult and emotionally painful. What adds to this pain is telling friends and family that the engagement and wedding are cancelled. To help understand possible reasons for a broken engagement and what someone can do to cope with a broken engagement, I have interviewed therapist Sandra A Doron LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“My specialty is relationships. Helping relationships thrive by having individuals both acknowledge and appreciate themselves and their partner. Although I may initially see couples at a difficult time in their lives, in the process of therapy they often find the courage, the skills, and the motivation to keep working on their relationship, and in the end, make it work successfully.”
What are common reasons broken engagements occur?
“The most common reason engagements are broken is because one of the partners in the relationship is in conflict. Let’s use fictional names, Susan and Paul. Perhaps his parents easily influence Paul, and his parents are not happy with Susan. Paul, however, does not share his on-going doubts with Susan, and Susan assumes Paul is more fatigued lately, working later and longer hours, but never guesses that Paul is having second thoughts about the upcoming marriage. Or perhaps Paul is in conflict about whether he really wants to be married at all. Although he loves Susan, he wonders if he can remain faithful to her, and often yearns to maintain his independent life-style, partying with his buddies, and going out whenever he wishes.”
How can someone tell friends and family that there has been a broken engagement?
“Telling friends and family about the broken engagement is difficult because Paul was not upfront with Susan, and then announcing that the engagement is off to friends and family is sometimes as troubling as breaking off the engagement to begin with. There may be less than a handful of family or close friends whom Paul or Susan would want to speak with about the reasons why the engagement was broken. The couple may want to share with these people because they can confide and trust in them. With the rest of the more distant family members and friends, they can tell them that the engagement has been broken off. The ideal response from those who hear the news is: “I’m so sorry to hear this.” If people ask why, which unfortunately some will ask, Paul and Susan can say something like “We were not ready to get married.” Then change the subject. To speak in an objective tone, with as much poise as possible, is important, especially if they don’t want to be further questioned.”
How can someone cope with a broken engagement?
“The best way to cope with the broken engagement is for Susan to share her sadness with her best friends, and with those she can trust: with close family and friends who are good listeners, who will understand Susan’s feelings of anger, shame, betrayal, and profound disappointment and loss. If Susan or Paul is devastated by the break-up, professional counseling could be helpful. Since Paul broke off the engagement, he too is likely to be feeling guilty and very embarrassed, and very conflicted, especially if he still feels that he is in love with Susan.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who is coping with a broken engagement?
“Perhaps the most important point to remember is that if Susan is shocked by the devastating news, having had no advance signs that it would be coming, the healing process will probably take longer. In time, Susan may understand that what happened is for the best, and it was fortunate that she never married a man who had so many doubts in the first place. She may also come to see that Paul was so closed emotionally that he could not share his feelings and conflicts with her. This awareness may help Susan have an easier time overcoming the sorrow and pain that she may initially have felt. She would know that such a marriage would most likely have ended in divorce, and it would have been much more painful to dissolve a failed marriage.”
Thank you Sandra for the interview on how to recover from a broken engagement. If you would like more information on Sandra A Doron you can check out her website on www.aacounseling.com.
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