How I Knew It Was Time To Call Off My Wedding

Her Voice

It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I was in the middle of one of the biggest fights of my life. Perhaps, the most hurtful part of the blind anger, and blood red rage was who I was in the fight with. My opponent during that fight wasn't supposed to be an opponent at all, he was my fiancé and almost a year ago, to that date, he had asked me to marry him. And now, we were fighting each other with words that could make anyone think that love had never grown, made, lived, or stayed there between us at all.

It was an hour before our food tasting at the wedding venue, but I could not feel anything. I was numb. I watched his back walk out of the door to leave.

Tears flowed down my face.

I accepted the sadness I felt in the time following our break up. Not for him. They were for me. I felt like the relationship failed despite all my effort. It was a realization that only solidified more as I thought of the save-the-dates that had gone out to family and friends, the venue that was halfway paid for, the wedding dress I no longer had a need for.

How could I stop now?

As I look back now, I realize that the feeling of failure was still easier to swallow than regret would ever be. And the relief I felt after sadness subsided forced me to realize that I was glad the train had stopped well before it pulled into the station. Deep down, I was grateful to him for walking away.

It meant I no longer had to say “yes" when every fiber of my being was screaming “no" all for the sake of a so-called happy ending with a man I no longer felt moved by or enamored with.

It's okay to be wrong in love.

Here are the 7 signs I wish I paid attention to long before that fight that told me the wedding was off:

Nothing About Our Relationship Was Organic

I met my ex-fiance the day before my first solo trip out of the country. I re-read the article I wrote about it now laughing at my ignorance. I didn't listen to a friend that said, “Get to know a man through all four seasons before committing your life to him." I had it mapped out to a science. Controlling my destiny was so important, I even organized the date and time of his marriage proposal. It wasn't a surprise. Nothing about our relationship came naturally because I was constantly forcing him to show love he didn't rightfully feel.

Of course, a man can say he loves you, but if he wakes up in the morning, fixes a full breakfast for himself and never asks, “Are you hungry?", you can make a safe bet that his words are just words. Love motivates us to be selfless.

Love moves us to give and, when it's authentic, giving is as natural as breathing. I ignored all the signs while simultaneously depending on signs to hold us together. What do I mean? The distance between us and our inability to communicate was consistent. However, on days where he'd happen to finish my sentences I thought, Oh my God, that's the sign that he was made for me. I just got to stay committed and rock with him!

Trust what is consistent. Trust your heart. I learned to stop fishing for signs and see things as they are.

My Body Changed

I gained 15 pounds. It wasn't the cutesy “date night eating out" weight because date nights ceased with a wedding looming overhead. It was stress weight. After my annual biometric screening, I was told to take a stress test. My blood pressure was incredibly high. If that wasn't enough, the hair around my temples receded after I'd cut off all my hair. I felt horrible about myself. The progress I'd made just the year before in being the healthiest I'd ever been was completely wiped away.

I Made No Personal Advancements

While personal advancement is a self-motivated decision, sometimes I was so obsessed with the relationship that I stifled my own growth. It's important to hold some energy back for your own goals and ambition. It's also important to connect to a man or woman who is your ultimate cheerleader. On days you run out of energy, he/she makes you feel like you can leap over tall buildings. Most importantly, you cultivate that “I Can Do Anything" spirit from having a healthy balance between your personal goals and the "us" goals. I didn't have the balance. It was all about building the "us" life and my life lost its luster.

I Had To Fake That The Picture Was Perfect

I became wedding planning obsessed while the relationship was falling apart. The image of the “best day of our lives" was the only joy I had. We made the commitment so we had to make it work. If I focused on the wedding plans, then the relationship would work itself out. I just had to keep pushing forward. I began overcompensating by creating the “grand" wedding in effort to mask the fear that I was making a mistake.

I went to my second bridal shop and found THE dress. I'd watched hundreds of would-be brides stand on the podium when they finally said 'yes to the dress' and cry tears of pure joy. My mother was teary-eyed. Her firstborn was in a gorgeous gown with a chapel-length veil. It was real now. I was going to marry him and I felt sick. I stood there with a beautiful dress on and the owner of the boutique said, “I sense some hesitation." The hesitation she sensed was not about the dress…it was my heart.

I remember leaving the boutique. Still manufacturing excitement, I called him saying “I found the dress!" He said, “That's nice. I'll call you after I'm finished doing what I'm doing." I stared at the phone, beeping with the sound of an abruptly-ended call. The wedding dress that should have been freeing felt like a straightjacket.

I Was Not Keeping God At The Center

My relationship with God came to a standstill because building this other relationship became the singular focus. I'd sit in church and plan out table settings and centerpieces in my head. I'd fill the hole with keeping busy. A friend said something so powerful to me once: “Christ is so important in a relationship because every time I get into an argument with my wife, I am convicted. My relationship with God gives me that push to say, 'Hey, I'm sorry.' God values at the center of your relationship holds you to a higher standard of how you treat each other. She is my partner and not my enemy."

It should never get to a place where name-calling is the go-to defense or ending the relationship becomes a curse-filled mantra. God is the compass that causes you to honor each other even in heated disagreements.

I Felt Really Alone In My Relationship

There I was, seven months away from the big day and I felt more alone than I'd ever felt in my life. I'd been stripped of my first love, which was travel, in order to prioritize the relationship first and not offend my soon-to-be-husband. He was on the couch playing video games or watching Netflix. I was in the bedroom buying home appliances or watching Four Weddings. This would go on for hours with barely two words spoken to each other until I fell asleep or he left the apartment to "do something." I became a clam, only imparting my feelings to my friends. He became resentful, using the silent treatment towards me whether we were together or apart.

Communication failed and therefore so did trust. My relationship with my friends ceased to exist. When I went to Barbados with my college friend for my birthday, a monkey ran across the main power line on the island and shut down the power in three parishes. The power outage also impacted the cell phone towers. To my fiancé, the story seemed as far fetched as it sounded. I spent most of the time there arguing about the veracity of the power outage on the island. Even in another country, I was unhappy. We were in a relationship in title but could not have been more apart in action.

We Were No Longer Compatible

Seeing value in what makes you different and appreciating it is what makes relationships work. He and I had two very different backgrounds. I am very suburban and he is very urban. I am a newbie traveler and he is a chronic homebody. He is frugal. I am for fabulosity on a budget. Our differences became obstacles instead of assets. They were weapons that drove a wedge between us instead of drawing us closer together. What we failed to do was respect the incredible things that made us unique. No one will ever find a person who is compatible in every way. Compatibility is important when it comes to values but differences are important to building mature balanced relationships.

The apartment was empty. I stared at a brand new Spin & Scrub Hoover vacuum cleaner and my new touchless trash can. All of these high tech appliances surrounded me but a gilded cage is still a cage. Actress Meagan Good's husband, Devon Franklin once said, "For anybody that has ever been married getting the ring isn't the end of the story. Unless God cosigned that ring, you are in trouble. Don't compare your life to someone else's life because you could be coveting trouble."

Thanksgiving Day, I had a family auction. I gave away most of the things I'd purchased during the course of the relationship. It gave me the closure I needed, and the satisfaction of witnessing my family and friends receive the things they needed.

To my surprise the family embraced my change in relationship status with a “thank God".

They saw the sadness I thought I'd masterfully masked. The fear I had of failure dissipated with each Taboo card thrown on the dinner table and each piece of cinnamon glazed sweet potato pie passed around. Life goes on!

We are living, breathing beings that grow and change.

I am embracing the fact that every relationship isn't the right one. I've learned to make a U-turn when it's necessary. No amount of commitment in the world is worth sacrificing your happy. By all means, get your happy!

Do you have a personal story that has happened to you and left you feeling empowered? Share your story with the xoNecole readers by sending your submissions to editor@xonecole.com!

Featured image by Beatriz Pérez Moya on Unsplash

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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