Top 10 Things NOT to Say
to a Person Going Through a Broken Engagement
10. “Sorry to hear about the marriage not working out.”
As true as this statement might be… going through a broken engagement is not something that should be brought up… especially in the workplace. If you truly desire to communicate your grievances- send a card or just leave an encouraging note (that way they can read and cry about it in private). Going through a broken engagement can be such a painful experience that a mention of it at an emotionally unstable time could be devastating. Just don’t.
I almost left my classroom in tear because of this- just this morning.
9. “You’re better off without him (her).”
Again, as true as this statement might be, it should not be said. Depending on the situation, the person in whom you are talking to may believe this, but it is not beneficial in any circumstance. Hating the ex-fiancée will not help the healing process (believe me, I’ve tried)! If they still love the other person, they may not show offense but they will still be to some extent offended, even if subconsciously.
8. “He must not have been the one.”
Do you really know this to be true? Is it possible that they actually may be The One- even if it is 15 years from now? I understand you are just trying to be helpful, but PLEASE, don’t throw out cliché thoughts to try and lift people’s spirits. In the mind of the recently “unengaged” this may very well have been their One and Only person that they love and want to love forever… changing their mind in this is a work that God’s healing alone can do. Please don’t try to be a life and love Doctor, just be a friend.
7. “Married life is hard, you’re better off.”
“Married life is hard.” Well, duh. Do you think that a person who has already gone through “pre-marital counseling” has not already heard this a dozen times? Do you really think that the formerly engaged person was naïve enough to think it would be a perfect fairy tale? Have you watched the news? Have you seen people around you? Obviously, anyone who has seriously considered marriage has taken into account the difficulty and challenges that were to come. Do they know the full extent at which these trials would be? No, not if they haven’t been married before, but this doesn’t mean you should be in a place of believing they truly are better off.
Do you know they really are better off? NO, you can’t know, you are not God. You can’t see into the future. As much as you can see from the outside, and believe that “circumstances” tell you they are better off… don’t assume. The feelings and emotions that are taking place inside this person at the moment are very complex and there may be things that are now effecting the “un-engaged” that you may have not considered. (Such as: despair, sexual temptation, lust, loneliness, hopelessness, questioning of faith, etc.)
6. “Better a broken engagement then a broken marriage.”
Even though this statement is true, it can be interpreted that you are saying they are better off not with the one they were engaged to. As true as this may seem through the evidence of the lives of those involved, please again take into consideration that you can’t know this for sure. If this engagement had ended in a divorce… then yes, a broken engagement is better by far; if this engagement had ended in a productive and thriving life (for Christ, if they were believers), then a broken engagement is not better. Statements like this only create more bitterness and heart-ache for those involved, so please, just refrain from saying this.
5. “I know what you’re going through.”
THEONLYREASON you should EVER say this, is if you are saying it to yourself. I know it is tempting to say if you have gone through something similar, but NO MATTER how similar your situation has been- it is not EXACTLY the same. The best thing I have ever had someone say to me in connection with this response is the exact opposite… “I have no idea how you are feeling right now, but I’ll be praying,” I know we all have had heart-ache, but please don’t diminish the other persons feelings by assuming you know how it feels and how to “get over it.” Even if you had been in the same exact situation, you do not have the same history or emotions as the one you are talking to… so again, just don’t.
4. “You, just need to choose to be happy.”
No, even Jesus on His was to raise Lazarus from the dead (knowing the outcome of that day) still “wept” with Mary. There is a time for everything under the sun… a time to cry and a time to laugh. Just be sensitive. IF God has blessed you with the gift of making your friend laugh… then go ahead and try, laughing does help the heart at times. However, DO NOT just tell them to choose to be happy. It is just wrong and honestly, not always a healthy choice.
3. “Look at the bright side.”
Unless you are trying to be light hearted and just joking (and it is an appropriate time to be joking), just don’t. At the right moment something like, “Well, look at the bright side, at least you won’t have kids with big noses,” will be hilarious. At the wrong moment… it will be heart wrenching. Timing is everything if you are trying to lift the spirits of your friend. If they seem too discouraged to take a joke, just don’t.
2. “You’re not alone in this.”
No matter how much you want to be there for your friend or loved one, the truth is you cannot always be there for them. In the middle of the night they will still wake up alone. When they come home from work to an empty house- you will not be there. Even if they do not live alone, they still are alone emotionally and in their thoughts. This is something they are going to have to face and come to realize. Thankfully, if they have a relationship with the Lord, He will be with them. He has promised to never leave or forsake us, and you will also have to trust your friend into the hands of their Maker. However, there will even be times they will feel abandoned by Him. Let this be. Let Him make His own presence known. You can tell them you are praying for them, but be sensitive because at times I have even become bitter at responses like that, when I cannot see the Lord working. Does that mean He’s not there? No, it just means you need to let Him defend Himself in the heart of the one you care about.
1.“You’ve got to just move on.”
Shut your mouth right now. Do not let this come out… ever. If this is the truth and they have to move on… they are going to have to come to this conclusion on their OWN. Nothing you say can make this happen in the heart and mind of the one who is heartbroken. There are no words that can make this process begin. Let them discover this on their own and just avoid saying this. It is not okay.
So then, what do you say?
I’m not trying to make it sound like there is nothing you can say to your friend or loved one who has just gone through this heartbreak of a broken engagement, but please be sensitive. Here are some of the loving things that have been encouraging to me:
·Wow, it sounds like you’re in a very dark place right now (I knew they were listening and acknowledging the feelings I was having).
·I’m so sorry (simple, but heartfelt).
·I don’t agree with the way things have happened, but just hang in there (“just hang in there,” even though cliché, really hasn’t bothered me- personally. Simple, but true.)
·Praying for you.
·I love you.
·(hug… no words, just a hug)
·If there is anything I can do to be there for you, let me know.
·Call me any time you just need to talk or vent.
·Want to have dinner and go to a movie?
·Come to church with me (although going to church is something I normally do, when someone invited me to go and expects me to be there, I seem to actually follow through and go. At times when I am depressed it is easy to choose, just to stay home and sleep.)