One of my most visited posts is how to heal from a broken engagement and many emails and DMS through Instagram have popped up since that post published in spring. The most common question I’m asked is, “How do I answer people when they ask about the wedding?”
While we might know how to answer a typical breakup when people ask about an old boyfriend, it’s we just say we broke up. But when it comes to a wedding called off, like a broken engagement, that naturally requires more of an explanation, because you know people might be thinking, Wait, you were totally going to marry that person, there were plans made, what happened that made you or him change their mind?
Buy my book In Repair: How to Heal from a Broken Engagement on Amazon.
My example of being asked about my wedding and having to answer
I was in the elevator at work and a co-worker came in and noticed how sickly thin I was getting which was a result of not being able to eat from a broken heart and not due to a wedding diet. It was very obvious I was dropping weight fast, I was under 100 lbs. She said cheerfully, “You’re getting too skinny! When’s the wedding?”
I replied somberly, “Oh, there’s no wedding anymore,” and her face fell and said, “I’m so sorry, oh my goodness, I’m so sorry.” I knew she was, and I felt even worse having to tell her to take her feel awkward. I felt bad that my response made her feel bad for asking. She only asked and didn’t mean to bring up any pain.
When people ask you about a breakup, here’s how to answer
Keep in mind –
- You have nothing to be embarrassed about. What happened is not in your control – whether you had to decide to call it off for good reason that was out of your control, or your fiancé called off the wedding. Things like this happened and if my broken engagement post is one of the most popular every month, you have to know that you are not alone.
- You can answer vaguely, or you can use it as therapy and spill your guts to anyone every time they ask. It’s OK. You do what feels right for YOU.
- Remember no one is asking to be malicious or hurt you by asking. If they are curious what happened that’s up to you if you want to share.
- You control what you share. If you aren’t ready to talk about it, don’t.
- You can use it as an opportunity to ask for help. You can tell them you are in pain and you’d like prayer or you want them to check in on you.
- People won’t really talk as much as you think. If you are concerned about gossip, I doubt it will happen – coming from experience and when I have heard people’s engagement called off – people don’t talk about it in an ugly way, more out of concern. It won’t be malicious talk because that’s not how women are – word may travel but it won’t be in a way that you have to feel ashamed to hide your face. And again, don’t be ashamed.
My situation and what I chose to share –
I had a blog at the time, maybe some of you read it before I moved over this to URL. I didn’t talk about it in details, just the pain I was feeling and how I knew God was working in me. I wish I didn’t delete the entire blog I wrote such beautiful, raw, thoughtful things on it. Or at least I wish I archived it but I chose to not think about that part of my life.
Everyone who was invited to the wedding knew the details. There were only 50 guests. The rest had an idea, I shared what I felt like sharing at different times.
My Facebook friends, some still had no idea. I didn’t feel like sharing it, it wasn’t anyone’s business but I also just didn’t feel like I had to. People knew it happened and they supported me. What my friends chose to tell them if they asked was up to them I didn’t mind but I just didn’t feel as though I needed to make a public service announcement, and I never did.
Until that blog post from last spring, that’s when I shared everything, the words, how I felt, all of it. And that was 9 years later!
All this to say, sometimes you want to share immediately, other times you don’t, and maybe as time passes God urges you to share your story so you can help others. Your story might be happening as a healing to others, many others after you while also directing your life to a much better path that only this breakup can do.
Examples of what you can say when people ask about your breakup
- “Unfortunately the wedding isn’t happening. I hope to tell you about it someday when I heal but right now I’d love it if you could keep me in your prayers, I’m really struggling.”
- “There is no wedding. Some things came up, and it was a difficult decision to decide to walk away. I’m so sad about it so if you could just pray for some strength for me that would be appreciated.”
But if they want to know more, you can be vague if you want. Say they were disagreements. Or you can tell them every detail.
There is no right or wrong on how to answer, the only thing you need to be aware of is how you will feel after that conversation.
Some people prefer to not share every detail, while some find it therapeutic to talk about and get some advice from others. You can probably tell which I prefer. I spill the beans. I pour my soul out and I cry and I will talk to anyone who will listen because communication and affirmation is what I need and I also believe conversations and sharing brokenness as well as the peaks is what brings us together as humans.
Do not ever feel bad for talking about it over and over again, or sharing your pain. People who are asking you how the wedding planning is going, they care. If you are struggling, they care and want to hear about it.
Allow people to be there for you, to cheer you up with their words of wisdom. You may also find that people who have been divorced know the feeling. They say it’s like a death, they know how heartbroken you must feel, so you never know who you share your pain with what kind of valuable wisdom they can give you. And sharing your pain may make you work into people’s prayers.
You can even be positive in the way you talk about it even though you feel like crap. Here’s an opportunity to set an example and also speak truth to yourself, yes it hurts but it’s best it happened on this side of the wedding instead of after.
I hope this helps you feel more confident when you have to answer. Don’t fear the question, be prepared to answer. Know that you are a beautiful, marvelous child of God and what has happened to you while path changing, it is character building and you will have a beautiful and wonderful life ahead.
Further Reading –
- In Repair: How to Heal from a Broken Engagement
- How to Heal from a Broken Engagement: My Story
- The Phoenix Process: Changing with Loss (free online article)
Have you had to answer difficult questions? How have you answered? Share in the comments on what you’ve learned.