I called off my wedding three months before the big day. I realised love alone is not enough

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun4,2024
The institution of marriage is changing, but the wedding business is booming. Why are we still so wedded to the tradition? Watch Insight episode Weddings on SBS on Tuesday 7 May at 8.30pm or on .
I have dedicated my life to helping others with their relationships as a clinical psychologist and couples therapist. But I have a shameful confession: I have a history of relationship disasters and have often doubted my ‘happy ever after’.
Then I fell for a man I believed was ‘the one’, before he very quickly wasn’t. The experience completely changed my views on what love and marriage really means to me.
I met this man on a dating app in April 2020 as Sydney was navigating. His eagerness, energy and attentiveness captivated me. He started showering me with flowers, gifts and countless text messages. I felt wanted, and we fell in love.

After two months of dating and intimately sharing our life stories, he said he wanted to marry me. Caught up in a romantic whirlwind, I started sharing inspiration for engagement rings.

Not long after, he met me on a harbourside wharf at sunset, where he got down on one knee to propose with my dream diamond ring.
I felt overjoyed that someone had chosen me. Never to be alone again, I felt safe in the promise of a secure future with a partner.

I remember the elation of looking at wedding venues together, envisioning a rust and olive green colour palette for flowers, invitations, seating and bridesmaid dresses.

A woman sitting on the floor in a house. She is holding a puppy and smiling.

Phoebe Rodgers started talking with her partner about marriage only two months into their relationship. Source: Supplied

When I found our wedding celebrant online, my eyes welled up as I watched a video of her marrying a couple.

I adored my wedding dress, and how beautiful I felt in it as my mum and sister looked on. Although they were worried about the speed of things, I had their support.
Then quite suddenly, the .

Marriage ‘like a death sentence’

As wedding plans proceeded, big cracks appeared in our relationship.
Financial pressure started to take a toll.

I’d picture walking down the aisle and feel sick to my stomach. Saying ‘yes’ felt like a lie and a death sentence.

I decided to end the relationship. It was three months before the wedding.
The COVID-19 restrictions at the time, which had restricted the scale of our wedding, allowed me to cancel the venue with little cost incurred and provide an easy explanation to guests. It felt as if the ‘COVID gods’ were looking out for me.
What people didn’t know was that I’d called off the wedding because of.

‘A very different person’

I experienced a flood of grief for the part of me that longed for her own love story.
But mostly, I felt enormous relief.
I knew that calling off the wedding was the right call, and would spare me a lifetime of misery.

I know the pressure couples face in planning the perfect wedding, whether to please their loved ones or simply to have their fairytale moment.

I nearly succumbed to my own internal pressure, and the part of me that wanted to show others that I had found love.
I’m now a very different person to who I was before, and my beliefs on love, weddings and marriage have changed.

I used to believe that a wedding was the most important expression of love.

A woman in a black suit smiles at the camera against a pink background.

Phoebe Rodgers says she’s grateful to her younger self for having the strength to call off her wedding. Source: Supplied

Today, the expressions of love I value most are my new partner’s respect, encouragement and loyalty. It’s cooking me dinner after a long day, or walking the dog when I’m too tired.

Love is consistency, reliability, predictability, and emotional safety. I am blessed to have found this kind of love.

Whilst I’m open to marriage again, it doesn’t feel so important anymore. The depth of our connection and faith in our future exists without marriage. If we do marry, it will be small and intimate, and honour our love story.

‘Love is not enough’

I have also realised that love itself is not enough to make a relationship work.
A relationship must be built on a strong foundation of shared values, empathy and communication. A relationship must enrich your life and nurture you to be your best self.
Ultimately, I am full of gratitude to the strong woman I was when I called off my wedding. I am happy today because of her.

Since that time, I have worked hard to heal and transform my old relationship patterns.

Marriage doesn’t feel so important anymore.

Phoebe Rodgers

I learned to date intentionally guided by my values, and stopped tolerating bad behaviour.
This allowed me to love myself more deeply, and guided me to a partner who takes my feelings, opinions and needs seriously.
Healing myself wasn’t enough though. I see all too many stories like mine, and want this to change. So I have created an online group for all women to come together and heal, so that they too can experience a love that is healthy, safe, reciprocal, nurturing and kind.
It is my heartfelt wish that every woman experiences this.
And for more stories head to Insightful – a new podcast series from SBS, hosted by Kumi Taguchi. From sex and relationships to health, wealth, and grief Insightful offers deeper dives into the lives and first person stories of former guests from the acclaimed TV show, Insight.
Follow Insightful on the , or wherever you get your podcasts.
Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “I called off my wedding three months before the big day. I realised love alone is not enough”
  1. Why do you think love alone is not enough for a successful marriage in today’s society?

    1. Love is undoubtedly a crucial foundation for a successful marriage, but in today’s fast-paced society, it takes more than just love to navigate the complexities of a lifelong commitment. Communication, understanding, mutual respect, and continuous effort are essential elements that contribute to a lasting and fulfilling marriage. With changing societal norms and expectations, couples need to adapt and grow together, embracing challenges and differences with patience and empathy.

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