Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Confirmed bachelor was okay with marriage — just not to her
It's Not You, It's Me: I'm sure you've heard this one before. My ex and I broke up because he insisted he never wanted to get married, didn't believe in marriage, etc. Seven months later, he's engaged . . . I just got the wedding invitation.
How do people get through this? What is it about some women that changes the minds of the terminally single? Or how do I get around the fact that, obviously, it was me who was the problem?
Carolyn: No, it wasn't you, it was what the two of you created when you were combined. Just because you two formed something he didn't want doesn't mean you did anything wrong.
For the sake of argument: Let's say you had a lot in common (appearance, demeanor, whatever) with someone he associated with his decision never to marry. That kind of thing happens all the time — say, you reminded him of his mother, which is why he was initially drawn to but ultimately put off by you. Is any part of that your fault? Is any of it a sign that you need to change?
That example oversimplifies, of course, but it's in service of a larger point: We have these big brains, but we're also animals, and so any time something goes wrong, you have to account for the primal stuff as well as the cerebral. While it's always possible you talked or nagged him to death or undermined him or whatever, and that's why he wouldn't marry you, it's also possible it was something even he can't explain.
Maybe he and his fiancee just lined up surprisingly well. It could also be that his fiancee pulled something on him that you would never have considered to get him to agree to marriage; dopes spring eternal and all.
It all points to asking yourself, would you or should you have done something different (besides "become someone else")? If so, then try to make those changes now, for you; make this nightmare count. The rest, please recognize as having been out of your control, stuff to grieve and leave at the curb.
Ask why you didn't put each other first when plans hit a snag
Maryland: My uncle recently passed away and his funeral was Christmas week. Prior to this development, my husband and I were going to Richmond, Va., for the holidays. I couldn't go because of the funeral, but my husband still wanted to go to spend time with his family. Was I unreasonable to want him to stay here with me?
Carolyn: There are two attitudes that are good to see in a case like this.
(1) He says to you: Now you're stuck without Christmas plans, so I'll stick around with you and together we'll make the best of it;
(2) You say to him: Just because my Christmas got derailed doesn't mean yours has to be.
Theme alert! In 1 and 2, you both have each other's backs.
In your scenario, neither of you had the other's back. I think that's a real conversation starter, if you can point it out to him without just pointing the finger at him. That, not the Christmas logistics, is the problem that needs attention from you both.