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A beautiful story of a couple who donated their daughter’s wedding reception dinner to 200 homeless people at Atlanta’s “Hosea Feed the Hungry,” charity, has gotten lots of attention.  It was the kind of act that renews people’s faith in humanity and reminds us that no matter how bleak a circumstance is, some part can be salvaged to bless someone else.

That being said, the underlying question can’t be ignored. What happened to bring this family to this place?  You probably think I’m wondering whether the guy cheated or whether he found out his fiancé was still in love with her college boyfriend. But actually those specifics aren’t necessary at all.  My question is which one of them was brave enough to realize that it’s better to make a decision that could cost temporary embarrassment and lots of money than to go into a “permanent” situation that could lead to years of unhappiness?

We all know couples who had no business dating, let alone deciding to get married…we may even have been part of one ourselves.  Our misplaced commitment may have been toward  the “idea” of getting married, to our newly acquired ring, to our wedding party, our parents, pastor and that huge deposit we made to the caterer, and there was no turning back.

I think some parents are just as responsible for pushing a marriage through even if there are red flags early on.  It may be due to some pressure they’re getting from friends who are badgering them about their daughter’s or son’s marital status. Or maybe they’ve had a successful marriage and think the couple will be able to weather the storms of infidelity, financial struggles, kids, addiction, unemployment, illness or whatever they’ve been able to endure.

And then there’s the moral or religious factor that makes couples having sex or wanting to have it feel that the only way they can overcome the guilt is by getting married. And finally,  there’s the couple that’s doing it for the child they are having or the children they already have together and they want to become a “legitimate” family.

I think it’s smart and courageous for a woman or man to call off a wedding if they aren’t truly committed and I think more would if they actually understood how serious marriage is meant to be and if they had a cocoon of support around that would help them through the process.   A man or woman in love could truly go through a period of loss akin to mourning a death when a marriage engagement ends. Or they could feel a sense of relief they never would have imagined if they hadn’t made the decision to postpone or cancel.  Families may be torn apart, friendships severed and yes  a lot of money could go down the drain.

Cheaper to Keep your Dignity? Why Some Have What it Takes to Walk Away  was originally published on

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