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Saying 'I... Don't.' gracefully

Updated 4:39 PM ET, Thu January 30, 2014
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On the fence about getting hitched? Therapist Dr. Nancy Irwin has some advice on how to make it easier on all parties. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Dr. Irwin advises seeking counsel from an unbiased party, like a therapist, counselor, or spiritual leader, not a friend or family member. "They are well-meaning, but cannot help but have their biases," she says. A. Gross/General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
Dr. Irwin suggests writing down your fears and doubts, and what it is that you're looking for in a permanent partner. "Writing these things down allows you begin to get clarity on what is working and what is not working in your relationship," she says. Vincenzo Balocchi/Alinari Archives/Florence/Alinari via Getty Images
If you decide not to go through with the wedding, Dr. Irwin advises to break the news in person, one-on-one in safe, private place, with as few words as possible. cut to the chase. Simply, "This is not a rash decision. I have given it much careful thought. This hurts like hell, but I know it is best for us both. I cannot marry you." Then be quiet and listen. American Stock/Getty Images
After the jilted person has spoken their piece, Dr. Irwin advises the initiating party to offer to help make phone calls, cancel caters, return gifts and take care of other logistics. Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images
The pain of a broken engagement, and the death of a dream is something you just have to get through, says Dr. Irwin. " It sucks completely, but won't suck nearly as badly as a divorce, legal fees, child custody issues, or feeling like a failure. You can also choose to think of the 'wasted money' as an investment in your personal growth. Walter Bellamy/London Express/Getty Images
If you're worried about what other people might think, put that to rest, says Dr. Irwin. "It takes enormous courage to face the embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, expense, hassle of canceling plans, returning gifts, et cetera. Honor your courage of doing the right thing in spite of others' potential criticism or gossip." Peter Stackpole//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images