Critical Ex-Fiancé

29 Apr

Letterbalm Man's Pointing FingerDear LetterBalm: My ex-fiancé and I had been engaged for six months. We were planning to be married next year. But as the months went by, he kept bringing up mistakes I made that I didn’t want to discuss. I made the mistake of telling him some things I’m not proud of. For instance, I secretly ran up credit card debt when I was married before. It had nothing to do with him – I was divorced when I met him – and I paid the debt before I left the marriage, and I’ve never done that again. He wouldn’t leave things alone; I got fed up feeling angry and guilty when he harped on my failings. I realized this was a serious character flaw, that he didn’t trust me and couldn’t stop condemning me. So, I ended the engagement. I feel a lot better, but I can’t get my sister to stop criticizing my decision. She keeps saying I made a big mistake, that I keep making mistakes about men, that I’ll never find another man as good as him (I haven’t told her about his behavior) and that I’ll grow old alone. I need her to back off. Please give me the words.

–Blessed Freedom

What you’re hearing is the sound of hearty applause. Ms. L.B. congratulates you for having the backbone to walk away from your toxic fiancé and take charge of your life. We can keep this brief: You owe your sister no explanation, and since you seem to have bounced back and rejoined your life (with the help of counseling if you feel the need), she should be happy for you and be on your side. The next time you and she are alone together tell her this, pulling no punches and keeping your composure:

Shirlee, this is the last time I’ll allow you to say anything about my broken engagement to Wally. I haven’t told you my reasons, and I never will. They’re not your concerns. Rest assured they are good ones. As my sister, I expect you to love and support me, not put me down. I refuse to listen to your criticisms of my decisions and life choices. And, starting now, the subject of Wally and the engagement is closed for good.

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