A Broken Engagement
is Better Than a Happy Divorce
By Frank Kermit
One of the ironies of couples counseling that I often find myself doing is taking the couple through the pre-marital coaching process when they may already be at the end of their relationship. I often ask them questions about their expectations about where they would have wanted their relationship to go, that are the same questions that couples who are ABOUT to get serious need to be asking.
Sadly, many couples get committed sooner than they should without having some much needed conversations. These include, the desire to have children together and taking into account any children that either person already has from previous relationships, the financial management of the new family, past mental health issues that could resurface, where you would live if you had to suddenly move from your current city, how you want your remains dealt with at the end of your life, and all the things you current do not like, but tolerate in your new partner that you HOPE will change.
These also include any past life issues that the new partner should be aware of such as any past trauma that could impact their future together, a criminal record, past bankruptcy, and anything incriminating that someone else may have on you that could become an issue (such as ex-lovers having potentially embarrassing and explicit photos and videos of you).
It does happen that when couples go for pre-martial coaching they end up coming to the conclusion that they should not be together after all and cancel the engagement (whether an official engagement, or an emotional one).
The purpose of pre-martial coaching is not to break couples up, but to build a solid foundation for the future relationship (parenting, marriage, common law, or de facto spouse). In the process of asking hard questions, it may come to their attention (and surprise) that the couple finds they simply have too many irreconcilable differences that would eventually end their union. This is a horribly sad time for the couple, as well as, anyone around them who share in their pain.
However, I am here to tell you that a broken engagement is far better than going through a happy and amicable divorce. Marriage (or any serious long term commitment) takes work. It is not always going to be easy. There will be times, even in the best of couples, that one or both of you may feel that being together was a mistake (shhh!! It is a secret that no one wants you to know!) It is normal to question your choice.
It is not about how much you love someone. It is more about how you get along. Contrary to what romantic entertainment would have you think: real couples, in real life relationships, have real hardships, and real doubts. It is those couples that can separate the passing doubts that can be worked through from the irreconcilable differences in values that bring about breaks up and divorce, who stand the best chance for long term relationship success.
If you are engaged to be married, but are having seriously strong doubts that you do not think are going to pass, hold off getting serious or call it off. When in serious doubt, stay out. If nothing else, pre-marital coaching will teach you that it will take everything you have to keep it together long term and in that, there is no doubt.