A few years ago, I photographed Ashley’s engagement session. 2 weeks later they broke off their engagement. A couple years went by and I was so happy to get another call from Ashley. She was getting married. Again. It was an honor to be there when Blake & her said their vows. I loved hearing her tell the story of the journey that led them to each other. I asked her if she would be bold enough to share it with all of you and she was kind enough to do so.
Here is her story:
“When Alex approached me about writing for his blog on the topic of a broken engagement, I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to share my story and to let other people out there know that broken engagements aren’t as rare or shameful as they might think. Often times, it’s thought that if you are engaged to a person, you’re basically already married to them – that backing out of the engagement could be the worst and most embarrassing thing to do. While it can be somewhat embarrassing (although needlessly, especially to the people who care most about you), it is not necessarily the worst. It may feel like it in the moment, but feelings generally don’t stand the test of time. Decisions do.
I dated a pretty great guy for three-ish of my four college years. He was extremely intelligent, super nice, tall, and a fellow believer. He had an awesome job lined up for after college so I didn’t really need to focus on and stress out about job searching just yet. We thought this is it. The next step is to get married. It’s perfect timing. We’ll graduate, have a couple of months before he starts work so that gives us the perfect opportunity for having a wedding, going on our honeymoon, moving to a new city, and getting settled. All before he starts work and I start looking for my own job. We loved each other’s families and felt like we were already a part of them. We spent holidays with them and other weekends. His family had gotten to know and love me and mine had gotten to know and love him.
Everything was perfect. This is how life is supposed to go, right? You graduate high school, go to college, meet your future spouse, graduate college, get married, buy a house, and start having babies. Boom. Boom. Boom. The circle of life.
Half of our wedding was already planned: deposits paid, engagement pictures taken, dress purchased, and guests notified of the date. We were on course to make this happen.
Then, one afternoon, I learned that he was having second thoughts – he wasn’t sure about marrying me. He said it wasn’t necessarily me but that something didn’t feel right with the situation. He had felt troubled since proposing but didn’t want to ruin everything and just thought he would get over it. But something kept nudging him until he finally told me his thoughts. I didn’t want to hear it, believe it, or understand it. I basically just ran away, ran out of the apartment, to my car, called my best friend and cried the whole way home and weeks after. I thought this couldn’t be real. How am I supposed to face ANYBODY (parents included) and tell them what happened? How am I supposed to cancel a wedding? I, honestly, wore my ring for another 2-3 weeks, knowing that his mind wasn’t going to be changed. I didn’t know how to tell people that he had decided not to marry me. That he was choosing another path. And that I was so so ashamed. It felt like a failure on my part.
Breaking an engagement to someone you care deeply about is never easy or happy for either person involved. It was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced and had to work through. I know that it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make. I really thought there would be no other guy that could measure up to him. I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. My whole world was turned upside down with one sentence. I now had no plan, no idea of what to do after college, where to go, what job I was going to work. I was utterly lost and helpless.
But God was good. His plan was so much better than I could have ever imagined.
I have come to realize that neither one of us were really ready to start a marriage. We were not prepared like we thought we were. God still had so much to work to do within both of us before we would be ready to bring someone else into our lives. I am so grateful that he realized that and called off the engagement before our marriage ended in divorce (a whole new kind of pain, worse, and much more complex than canceling a wedding). I am glad he had the courage to do what I couldn’t and to see what I wouldn’t.
God brought me through the fire and made me so much stronger than I was before. I no longer depended on another person but instead depended on Him. I moved to the fourth largest city in America (coming from a town of 11,000), worked three jobs to make ends meet and gain financial independence from my parents. But more importantly, my identity as a woman and daughter of Christ was deepened through these struggles.
I also started dating another man from college. One who would have such great impact on my faith and who would challenge me and push me to be the best I could be independently of him. Who truly loved me through all my faults and misgivings, times of freak outs, and two and half years of being 1,562 miles apart. Blake knew me and loved me and fought to become the best husband, man, and future father a man could be. He has shown undying love by working hard and preparing a life for me.
He made sure that we both understood what marriage really is. What it means to be a husband, what it means to be a wife. How that works together. Are we attracted to each other physically? Immensely. :) Do we know that there will be times that our physical attraction won’t solve the deep issues of combining two different hearts? Most definitely.
We were ready to share our lives, become one, and love and respect each other no matter what. We have committed ourselves to God and to each other. We decided to take a leap into the adventures of marriage. I have to say it’s been a pretty great journey so far, full of laughter and joy.
I couldn’t have asked for better, even though I tried.
All this to say, decisions can still be made during the engagement. Not just about cake flavors, flowers, and colors. This is a time for you to really dig deeper, to talk about the hard topics, and to figure out if this person is really who you want to choose to be by your side no matter what life throws at you.” ~ Ashley
Ashley, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. If any of you have gone through a similar experience, please leave a note in the comments for anyone you think it could help.