Liv­ing with can­cel­ing a wed­ding

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@wash­ Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at­post. Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn: I re­cently called off my wed­ding less than a week be­fore­hand. And ev­ery­one hates me now — my ex, her fam­ily, even my fam­ily has been nasty to me. On top of that, I truly feel ter­ri­ble about hav­ing done this. I kept try­ing to put my feel­ings down to cold feet, but I sud­denly knew I couldn’t go through with it. Bet­ter that than a di­vorce in less than a year, right?

I know I look like the bad guy, but I hon­estly think my ex bears some blame for giv­ing me an ul­ti­ma­tum in­stead of let­ting it hap­pen or­gan­i­cally. We had only been dat­ing two years be­fore she said, “Give me a ring or else I walk.” When I tried to ex­plain this to some friends and my fam­ily, they said it just makes me look even worse, try­ing to blame the “heart­bro­ken, jilted bride.” Aren’t I en­ti­tled to de­fend my­self, or am I just go­ing to have to take 100 per­cent of the blame for­ever?? — Not Re­ally the Vil­lain Not Re­ally the Vil­lain: Ah, you had me till the fin­ger-point­ing.

Yes, her ul­ti­ma­tum was a ter­ri­ble idea. But, dude — you heard her ter­ri­ble idea and did what? Bought a ring. So that’s on you.

Let me go back for a sec­ond, though. I don’t like blame at all in sit­u­a­tions like this. You two weren’t right for each other. Ev­ery­one who “hates” you isn’t con­nect­ing enough dots to rec­og­nize you had to call it off.

You could both be lovely peo­ple who tried to do right by each other, and that still could have brought you to a last-minute can­cel­la­tion. Some­times the Aha Fairy chooses to visit at an exquisitely ter­ri­ble time.

So own that, and noth­ing else. Say you’re sorry. Say you feel ter­ri­ble. Say you wish clar­ity had come sooner. No flinch­ing.

And no jus­ti­fi­ca­tions, ei­ther. Here’s what doesn’t help any­one at a time like this: “Hey, beats a di­vorce, amirite?” “YOU pres­sured ME, re­mem­ber.”

“We had only been dat­ing two years!” (My eye­roll added.)

“Do I have to take 100 per­cent of the blame for­ever?!”

Your job is to have a clear mes­sage for your­self, that you are 100 per­cent re­spon­si­ble for your part in this. For agree­ing to some­thing you didn’t want and for tak­ing so long to see the er­ror in that.

How oth­ers see it, see her, see you? That’s for them to work out. The rest will fol­low when you get right with you.

. . . And when you com­pen­sate your ex and/or her fam­ily for any de­posits you lost by bolt­ing so late. De­cency de­mands it, in in­stall­ments if you must. Dear Carolyn: I have a friend who never calls me — ever. Which is fine, I’m a busy per­son with mul­ti­ple jobs and an ac­tive so­cial life. The prob­lem is that some­times she will send me an email say­ing she misses our old close friend­ship and won­ders what she might have done wrong to push me away. We’ve been through this a few times. I say noth­ing is wrong, I’m busy and the phone works both ways. I set up an out­ing or two for us. She en­joys it, tells me so ef­fu­sively but does not sug­gest any out­ings from her end. I get busy, cy­cle re­peats.

I haven’t heard from her in a re­ally long time. I’m an­tic­i­pat­ing the hurt email, and I’m try­ing to fig­ure out a way out of this. I en­joy her com­pany, but I’m tired of do­ing all the work, then get­ting guilt-tripped when I stop. Ideas? — Over­booked Over­booked: If you like her, then email now, un­prompted, to sug­gest mak­ing plans. The best de­fense be­ing a good of­fense, or some­thing like that.

If her wounded email shows up be­fore you’ve had a chance to do this, then don’t scram­ble to make plans. In­stead, just an­swer her “what she might have done wrong to push me away” ques­tion hon­estly. “You haven’t called me! If you want to, though, then call me.” Spray-paint the steps on the floor to help her do the dance. Dear Carolyn: My son and his wife have a blended fam­ily. They have been to­gether a short time, and I have come to love all the chil­dren equally. All are tweens and young teens.

The step-grand­chil­dren have birth­days com­ing up. I gave the grand­chil­dren gift money for their birth­days. I am con­cerned that what­ever I do, the oth­ers will feel that I value them less. If I give ev­ery­one the same amount or same gift, I feel the “grands” will feel slighted be­cause I am THEIR grand­mother. If I give the “step-grands” a lesser gift, I feel they will feel slighted. Any sug­ges­tions would be help­ful.

— Anony­mous Anony­mous: Which “bad” mes­sage is bet­ter to send: That you treat all chil­dren equally or that you openly grant some chil­dren more-than and oth­ers less-than sta­tus?

Please tell me the an­swer is ob­vi­ous when it’s phrased this way.

Kids are kids, and grand­par­ents are grand­par­ents. Love is love. Equal gifts for all.

Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at wash­ing­ton­ con­ver­sa­tions.

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