The wedding is scheduled in four months and Elizabeth asks desperately, "Is there anything I can do to make this work?" Elizabeth and her fiancé have had an on-again off-again relationship for 13 years that started when she was only 15. As the wedding date gets closer his bad behavior has been getting worse.
Elizabeth writes, "He disrespects me, makes jokes about me, puts me down and curses at me when he gets upset. He even kicked a hole in the wall after I got upset because he was cursing at me!" She concludes her appeal for help by saying, "I'm very concerned because we are getting married in four months."
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She also writes that she has an appointment with a counselor very soon. That's fortunate because I'm sure her counselor will tell her that no matter how far along the wedding planning has gone and how painful, embarrassing, difficult and potentially expensive it will be to cancel this wedding that's exactly what needs to happen.
Even if her fiancé is behaving badly because he is stressed by the approaching wedding or by Elizabeth's stress about the wedding, he is displaying his anger in extremely immature and dangerous ways. This is an important sign of a potentially abusive relationship. Even if he promises to reform, which appears extremely unlikely, the changes he needs to make before Elizabeth can be safe in his company will take far longer than four months to learn and solidify. And right now it does not appear that he is even admitting that he has done anything wrong.
Both Elizabeth and her fiancé are minimizing a very serious problem in very different ways. He is denying the existence of a problem at all. He sees nothing wrong in his disrespectful behavior and when she complains about it he blames her and becomes violently angry. If we asked him what he thinks went wrong, he would probably blame Elizabeth for trying to control him.
Elizabeth recognizes that the problem exists but is minimizing the seriousness of the problem. She's looking for a solution that can be implemented within four months so that they can go ahead and get married. She probably knows how unrealistic this is but doesn't want to face the disgrace of admitting to friends and family that she has made a mistake.
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Many women that I've worked with and others who shared their secrets to help me prepare my book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before®… Saying “I Do” have admitted to me that they knew they should never have gone through with their weddings. They knew that something was wrong before the ceremony but they didn't have the courage to call it off.
These women usually went on to tell me how they did not recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and that the bad behavior got worse after the wedding. Some stayed for many years and some divorced almost immediately. Most implied that if they had known that the consequences of going ahead with the wedding were far worse than they imagined that the consequences of canceling it would have been, they would have told the truth and stopped the wedding.