I Couldn't Call Off My Wedding — But I Never Wanted To Be Married

What do you do when marrying the right guy means living the wrong life?

sad bride AS Project / Shutterstock

When grandma wrote to me, saying that she'd already bought her airline ticket, I knew I'd have to go through with it. There was no more hoping and praying that things would change.

I couldn't call off my wedding, even though I didn't want to get married anyway.

Everyone who knew us thought marrying Ryan was a no-brainer. We'd been dating since our sophomore year of college.

We met at a Halloween party at a mutual friend's apartment; he was a yeti, I was a big-game hunter, and the minute he took off his shaggy head, I fell in love with his big brown eyes. We sat on the fire escape until two in the morning trying to top each other with all the exotic places we dreamed of traveling to.


I Couldn't Call Off My Wedding, But I Never Wanted To Be MarriedPhoto: Meri Verbina / Pexels

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We stuck it out long-distance all through junior year study-abroad, while he ate waffles in Brussels, Belgium, and I barbequed in Canberra, Australia. Back at school, we moved in together. It was so easy and comfortable that "maybe someday" turned into "How about August?"


Christmas morning, eating pancakes in our pajamas before the drive to his parent's house, I found a small, tasteful diamond ring in my stocking. I barely waited to tell Ryan "yes!" before I was on the phone telling everyone else what had just happened.

Between classes, job hunting, and planning the wedding, the next few months were the busiest I ever expected to live through.

Since school was a couple of hours' drive from home, my mom took care of a lot of details. But dress fittings, cake tastings, invitations, and all the million other things that go into planning a wedding still had my calendar packed and my head spinning.

And then everything started to go wrong — not just with wedding planning, but with our relationship.


Ryan got a job offer. It was exactly the job he wanted, with great benefits and a salary that — well, let's just say it was more than he was expecting. Lots more. The problem? It was right here, in the small, rural college town where Ryan grew up.

"Isn't it great? We don't even have to move!" he crowed.

I Couldn't Call Off My Wedding, But I Never Wanted To Be MarriedPhoto: RDNE Stock project / Pexels


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I looked Ryan straight in those beautiful brown eyes and, suddenly, I was more certain than I've ever been of anything in my life that we shouldn't get married.

I hadn't applied for a single job in our college town. This wasn't so much a testimony to my adventurous spirit as a recognition of the cold, hard fact that there weren't any I wanted, and there would never be any.

Ever since my first A+ in high school English, I've dreamed of a career in publishing. Number of publishers in our town? Zero.

This wasn't news to Ryan. I'd been bubbling about all the places we could move to since we both started job hunting months before. Manhattan, Chicago, the Bay Area — all vibrant and exciting, and all cities I could see myself taking by storm.


Our Town, USA? After four years there, I was pretty sure it wasn't worth storming.

We talked it over. Then we yelled, slammed doors, and went to bed angry.

Ryan wasn't budging; in this economy, he said, we couldn't say no to a great offer like this. He said I'd find something. He said it would all be worth it in the end. And besides, his mother would be right across town to help with the kids.



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Kids? We'd talked about kids — someday. But they weren't coming soon enough that I had started worrying about finding a babysitter, that's for sure. We yelled some more, then quit talking to each other at all for a while.

Then I got Grandma's letter. It seems she'd been dreaming of this day ever since she first saw me as a tiny baby. I shouldn't worry, I told myself — she could get a wheelchair in the airport, and of course she wouldn't miss my wedding for the whole world.

So there I was. The hassle, the embarrassment — and disappointing grandma. I just couldn't call off my wedding.

Ryan's the right guy for me; I've never doubted that. But what do you do when marrying the right guy means living the wrong life?


Here's what I did: I called it cold feet and went through with the wedding, despite not wanting to at that time. And I don't mind admitting that I was a gorgeous bride.

That was a year ago. Since the wedding, I've found a job and I absolutely hate it. We're saving up to travel somewhere exotic, but something essential and expensive always seems to come up.

I Couldn't Call Off My Wedding, But I Never Wanted To Be MarriedPhoto: Vlada Karpovich / Pexels


I've asked Ryan to start looking for a job somewhere else in a year or two. He says he's considering it. But I'm done waiting for him to make up his mind. Instead, I've been sending out resumes for every job opening I see, as long as it's nowhere near this town.

Big city, here I come. Will Ryan be coming with me? That's entirely up to him.

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Rachel Coburn Ambler is a writer and contributor to YourTango. Her bylines have also been featured in Science Magazine and Taylor & Francis.