My husband and I both came close to marrying other people. That's what brought us closer together when we first met: the realization that we had been through almost exactly the same thing.
We both called off our weddings (to other people) shortly before the actual date. Him three months before, me two weeks.
At the time, I felt like no one understood why I had cancelled my wedding, which would have taken place at the end of summer 2007. I felt like it would have been easier to explain if my ex-fiancé had been abusive or if we had huge fights all the time, but he wasn't, and we didn't.
We got along okay. Our life together was okay. But that was it - it was just okay. As asinine as it sounds, I was 23 and had never stopped to think about my future with him. With the wedding day fast approaching, it was getting harder and harder to push away the thought that maybe we weren't the best match for each other.
A few months before the wedding, I happened upon an article about inertia relationships. It was like a slap in the face. That was exactly what I was living: a relationship that kept rolling along of its own accord. It was easier to keep moving than try to stop it. We moved in together because it was the logical thing to do. And it felt like we were getting married because that's what people our age did after being together five years.
My now-husband had been with his ex-fiancée for almost nine years; they were supposed to be married in 2005. He used a clever analogy to describe how he felt in the months leading up to his wedding. He says it was like being on a train going 100 kilometres an hour, hurtling toward a rock on the tracks a few kilometres away. He knew the rock was there. He knew it was going to hurt when the train hit the rock. But it was comfortable inside the train, and if he closed the curtains he didn't have to look outside and see how fast he was going. He knew he should jump out of the train though, because even though it was going to hurt, it wouldn't hurt as much as hitting the rock later on down the track.
We both felt like we should be happy with our partners, but we weren't. I tried to convince myself I was happy. I told myself every girl would love to be in my place, to have a kind, generous boyfriend like mine. He bought me flowers and jewellery and other little gifts. He drove me to the bus stop, then waited for me after work every day. He was great with kids, and couldn't wait for us to have our own. So why didn't I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet?
My husband compared his ex-fiancée to a Mercedes. She was kind, smart, beautiful - everyone wants a Mercedes, right? But he just wasn't a Mercedes type of guy. Flashy and luxurious aren't his thing. What he really wanted was a Subaru: always ready for adventure, can take anything you throw at it, doesn't mind getting dirty.
And that's what I came to realize, too. I had been lying to myself when I said it didn't matter if my ex-fiancé didn't like to read and was never interested in what I was reading, even though I've always been passionate about books and reading and learning new things. I had been lying to myself when I wore the jewellery he gave me. I've never liked expensive jewellery, and what he bought for me was much more in his style than mine. I had been lying to myself when I substituted his dreams for mine.
My now-husband and I both felt guilty. We were afraid we'd ruined the other person's life by not going through with our respective weddings. Guilt is probably the main reason we took so long to break off our relationships. It's hard to put yourself first, to not think about the other person's needs. I felt so selfish.
I think my healing process was easier than my husband's though. He went through two years of wondering if he had done the right thing. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders the very day I called off my wedding. I could breathe again, more freely than I had in years. I was on a cloud as I moved into my new apartment, smiling at nothing and feeling lighter than I'd felt in a long time.
Maybe doubts would have eventually taken over me. But I was too busy reconnecting with friends and getting to know myself. I learned to trust my gut feeling. I also learned (and am still learning) to be honest with myself about who I am, what's really important to me and what I want out of life.
Then, not long after my breakup, I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams. Someone who had been through what I had just gone through. Someone who understood what it was like to call off a wedding. It was uncanny how similar our stories were, and we had so much in common. He loves to read, too, and talk about books with me. He is always eager to learn new things, and we're both passionate about what we do for a living. With him, it felt so right that I knew I had done the right thing.
We actually met at a wedding. I was a bridesmaid, he was the bride's first cousin. And last October, we tied the knot.
Kim Lacroix lives in Ottawa.