Choosing someone to spend the rest of your life with involves grief. “Decide” has the same root as “suicide” and “homicide”; it means you are killing off your other options to embrace this one. Yes, it is beautiful: you have chosen someone you love so much. Likely you are highly compatible, perhaps you are going to create a family together, and you’re choosing to share your life journeys. There is security, a feeling of being chosen and special, there is giddiness, excitement, and there’s rest.
But what about the grief? With every relationship there are things you won’t get. You’ve chosen to commit to this person so those things aren’t deal breakers, but they are important. It’s normal to feel sadness, confusion, resentment, and anger soon after the engagement. There is real loss that needs grieving. For instance, you might never have sex with anyone else. That is a big deal! There may be things your partner won’t do, or can’t. If you identify as bisexual, this one’s obvious. And chemistry, even if it’s great, tends to settle with time.
Now is the time to grieve all the things you’re losing. Let yourself feel the weight of them, and let them be big things. Maybe your partner isn’t a morning person, or a night owl, and you are. That might be really sad! For the rest of your life, you’re going to wake up happy next to someone who can’t share that with you, or stay up late alone. Perhaps you disagree about the way you make and care for your home. That is a difficult, every day thing. Maybe you’re an artist and your partner can’t really understand or enter that world with you. Maybe you love sushi, or backpacking, or musicals and your partner is just never going to share those things with you. Maybe choosing this partner means choosing a certain geography or lifestyle. Even if you like it it still means grieving the geographies or lifestyles that may now be closed off to you. That’s sad! Let yourself feel how really sad that is.
It’s important to let yourself feel the weight of all this. Face it, feel it, grieve it, and let it go. Give yourself the time and space to work through it: write about it and have conversations with friends, a counselor, your partner. When planning all the logistical details of the wedding, don’t neglect the emotional work behind the ritual. Do the grief work so you can arrive at grounded celebration. It is through grief that we find gratitude. By facing, accepting and letting go of what isn’t you can wholeheartedly enjoy and cherish what is.
1 thought on “Engagement Grief”
Never, ever have I considered this. I am not sure I will share it with my soon to be married son and daughter-in-law, but I hope I do. Choosing in favor of one, means dismissing the others. Thanks for the insightful post!