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How long should a couple be engaged before getting married? Great question! There isn’t a “magic number” and it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. What matters is how well you both really know each other and if you are both ready—individually and relationally—for that big “forever” next step.

To help guide you through this thought process, let’s see what some experts have to say and what conclusions they’ve gathered from research. 

The average engagement length for U.S. couples was 15 months. The study represents feedback from more than 25,000 couples married in 2019. 

Different factors can play into having a longer or shorter engagement. It boils down to what is best for you two. It’s important to know the difference between having a reason for a long engagement or one of you not wanting to commit and pick a wedding date.

Reasons for having longer engagement:

  • Are you still in school?
  • Are you long-distance or living abroad?
  • Do you have commitments that are presently keeping you busy and you need time to plan?
  • Are you saving money for the wedding to pay for it upfront?
  • Most importantly, are you still getting to know each other?

John Van Epp, author and relationship expert, believes that within “three to six months you can begin to know someone, but like looking through a microscope at its lowest power, you can only see certain things in that amount of time.

Dating someone for an extended period allows you to see certain things that may not become evident right away. Having history together provides understanding into who each person really is. It allows you to see how each person handles different kinds of situations. So, you may not need a long engagement if you’ve already put in the relationship work to get to know each other well. The important thing is that you are ready for marriage.

A relationship needs time for things to normalize. Many people are very flexible in the infancy of a relationship, but as time goes by they become less flexible. By taking things slow and easy you give your relationship time to grow up and you get to see how the person will really treat you,” says relationship expert, Julie Baumgardner.

One study found that couples who dated for more than two years consistently scored higher on marital satisfaction than those who dated less than two years.

According to research by John Birtchnell and John Kennard, at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, “Couples which are better acquainted before marriage have significantly higher rates of marital quality.” Couples who are less acquainted experience greater problems when they face the inevitable difficulties of marriage.

Long engagements are helpful when individuals are at significantly different places in their lives,” says Scott Haltzman, author and relationship expert. So, if you or your partner are in the midst of some of those things listed above, it might be better to take some time on the front end to sort it out before the wedding. It also allows time for premarital education

Haltzman also says that a prolonged engagement gives couples an opportunity to engage in premarital education to learn skills to help them navigate the marriage journey. Premarital education is incredibly importantno matter how long youre engaged.

In addition, Scott Stanley, a marriage guru and research professor at the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies, argues that one of the primary reasons premarital education has value is because it slows couples down and fosters greater deliberation. In Making a Case for Premarital Education, Stanley says the lack of time in a premarital relationship correlates with higher rates of divorce in the subsequent marriage.

However, there is a growing love for shorter engagements.

Remember, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Maybe you’ve dated a really long time and gone through premarital education. Perhaps you’ve seen each other respond to problems, differences, and stressors over time. If so, you might not need a long engagement. 

Being engaged feels separate from dating because of the mutual desire for commitment for the future. But there is some overlap in this limbo. You aren’t married yet and you’re more than a girlfriend/boyfriend. Nonetheless, you’re still dating and your goal is to continue getting to know each other so there aren’t any big surprises after you marry.

It boils down to figuring out what is best for you both based on where your relationship is right now. Have you laid a strong foundation? Are you rushing things? Are you listening to other people’s opinions versus making a decision that is right for the two of you? 

It’s a case by case basis, so don’t feel like you have to find a perfect equation. Figure out what works for you.

Consider these blogs for some additional resources:

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I just want to do it right, I want to know what I’m supposed to do.” I kept saying this to myself while I was engaged.

Plus, I wanted to prepare myself for anything that could come our way. I wanted a rock solid marriage with a foundation no earthquake could tear down. My parents divorced and my amazing mom raised my sisters and me by herself. She taught me unconditional love with her selfless giving and consistent encouragement, but I wasn’t around a marriage relationship

Luckily, the tantalizing lie that I would mess up or something would go wrong was put to bed once Tyler, my husband, and I took inventory of the relationships we admire

His parents’ marriage was stronger than ever, a close family friend had been married for almost 50 years, a couple who were our small group leaders, and the list went on. Tyler and I were surrounded by people who loved us and would jump at the opportunity to support us.

☆ There are people in your life with good intentions who will give you lots of marriage advice before and right after you say “I do.” However, there are some people who might not necessarily be the right ones to speak into your marriage. Or it might be better to say that they may not be qualified to give you that kind of advice

How can you decipher what marriage advice is solid, who to listen to, and who’s a friend of your marriage?

Checklist:

  • Do you or your fiancé have a good relationship with the person giving advice?
  • Is this someone who you trust?
  • Did this person/couple know you and/or your fiancé before the engagement?
  • Is this a person who is where you want to be at in life?
  • Do you like how they handle conflict?
  • Have they already been through what you’re going through?
  • Are they supportive of your marriage?
  • Will the relationship with them continue in your marriage and not just before it?

There’s no better place to seek marriage advice than from someone who is in the place you want to be. Most people will give advice from the baggage they have had to carry and what they’ve already been through. There is wisdom in asking questions, and pure gold from listening to those who have done marriage well who know you well enough to be open and honest about their experience. Talk to couples who did not let trials cripple their relationship but used the challenge as an opportunity to grow from it. 

Ask them questions like…

  • What is the most challenging and most rewarding part of marriage?
  • What did you all do that has helped you get to the place you are now?
  • How do you solve problems that seem irreconcilable?
  • What would you have done differently with the experiences you have been through?
  • What grace do you wish you had given each other in the beginning of your marriage?

☆ There’s always room to grow-—more in love, closer together, and into stronger versions of yourself. Lean into the support system you have and keep the door open for conversations throughout your marriage.

In addition to talking with your trusted people, here are some resources…

☆ If you want to take it a step further, check out our free online premarital program!

P.S. There are a few other organizations we have found helpful, like The Gottman Institute, LoveThinks, and the work by Michele Weiner-Davis to name a few. Hope this helps. <3

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While you’re engaged, conversations tend to hover endlessly around the wedding day, and naturally so. Though working out the details and planning your celebration is exciting, having conversations about other topics is important, too. 

You and your fiancé are stepping into something beautiful—a promise of commitment, a proclamation of loving each other now and falling in love over and over again, a 24/7 best friend, and a person who wants to love you at your best and through the worst. You owe it to each other to take the time to appreciate what you have and to continue the pursuit.

One way to pursue each other is to sit down and have important conversations. Continue to learn about each other, find a middle ground for things you may not have the same opinion on, and keep the door open to come back to these conversations down the road. As time goes by, things can change, and so can you. 

5 Conversations Every Engaged Couple Should Have Before They Say, “I Do”

1. Talk about the importance of marriage, what it means to you both and what you hope for it to look like. Being on the same page about why marriage is important to you helps you both take ownership of your relationship and establishes its value. When you take the time to lay out your hopes and expectations, you invite your spouse into the opportunity to make those happen. If you don’t voice what you expect from your future spouse, you’ll set them up for failure and yourself up for disappointment.

2. Do you want children? If one of you does and the other doesn’t, this could be quite an obstacle to get over. It is important not to assume the other’s answer in this particular conversation because it intimately affects what the future looks like. Talking about this as an engaged couple is a really big deal.

3. How do you handle conflict and what rules do you want to establish on how to fight when you do? Conflict is inescapable for any relationship, says Psychologist Dan Wile, but some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. You have to find what works best for you both. For my husband and I, we have two ground rules: 1. No yelling and 2. No cussing at each other. This works for us! If we feel like we are going to start yelling, we call timeout and revisit the conversation after we have had time to process.

With more than 40 years of love and relationship research under their belt, The Gottman Institute says that whether love will last is more about how couples address their differences and support one another’s needs and dreams. Here are some steps they suggest to handle conflict better.

4. Talk through your finances.  What are your financial goals? Have you talked about a budget and about savings? This topic can take a turn for the worst pretty quickly if you don’t find a middle ground. Here’s some guidance on automating money in your marriage and saving thousands by The Gottman Institute.

5. Intimacy in your relationship—an often underrated conversation. Being intimate isn’t limited to being physical, though that is an important part. In fact, there’s emotional and spiritual intimacy, too. Each of these plays into each other and helps create a deeper bond with your partner because you are learning about them in a way that others may never experience. Spending quality time together is a great way to increase intimacy. Talk about what your dreams are, your spirituality, your feelings and what’s on your heart as well.

Get personal with your sweetheart. Start out your marriage with the muscle memory of talking through tough conversations, how you want to love each other and what’s important to you. The more you communicate, the richer the potential for a lovely life together. Now who’s ready to say I do?

Check out some other great blogs for engaged couples:

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Fighting with your fiancé all the time, aka, the person you are planning on spending forever with, can feel just exhausting. The uncertainty from COVID-19, the potential for rescheduling your wedding, fear of job loss, or navigating unemployment while trying to secure a future together, spending what may feel like too much time together, and so many unknowns right now can definitely stir the dust in the air. Just when you think the dust is going to settle, one of you kicks it back up again! 

I have seen far too many people fall into the trap of marrying a person thinking that they knew them, but in reality, they only knew about them,” says Dr. John Van Epp, relationship expert, and author. 

So, for starters, if you find yourself in constant conflict with your fiancé, what exactly are you fighting about?  

  • Finances around the wedding?
  • When you will actually get married?  
  • What the celebration will look like in the midst of “RONA?”
  • One of you is messy and the other is a neat freak?
  • Your mother?
  • Quarantining during the Pandemic?
  • The dishes in the sink overnight?
  • Money in general?

Fighting about things that matter is one thing, but if you find yourself fighting with your fiancé about Every. Little. Thing, that’s a whole new ballgame. It might be a good time to take inventory of your relationship and see if it’s unhealthy. 

An important thing to consider—if you are fighting about everyday things that you will for sure continue to encounter, and you are thinking that once you marry things will simmer down and those issues won’t be such a big deal or you will be able to “work on your spouse” to get them to change… Do not be fooled. If you see things that you need to work on individually or as a couple, the chances of change happening before the wedding are far greater than after the ring is on your finger

The hopeful news is that conflict is inescapable for any relationship, AND some of the best news is that conflict handled well actually brings you closer instead of pulling you apart. 

You for sure are not alone in this. Psychologist Dan Wile says it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing a long-term partner, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unresolvable problems.” It’s true.  Every couple has around 10 things they will not necessarily agree on for the duration of their marriage. Despite this, relationship expert Dr. Gottman, who has studied couples for the last 40 years, has found that about ⅓ of conflicts can be resolved with the right approach. Even for those things that you might disagree on for forever, Gottman found that how you approach each other is the key.

Dr. Gottman’s Approach:

  • Step 1: Soften Your Start-Up. Are you beginning the conversation where you left off in your head? When your fiancé gets to your apartment you say, “Why should I ever be ready on time? You’re always late.” They respond with, “I got stuck behind an accident. I’m working on my timing.” Then maybe you go on to say, “It’ll be something else next time.” Soft Start-Ups don’t include the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). Instead, you and your partner start the conversation gently and with intentions of understanding each other and coming to a resolution.
  • Step 2: Learn to Send and Receive Repair Attempts. Think of a repair attempt as slamming on the brakes when you see a red light. You do this to avoid a collision that could harm your marriage,” says Kyle Benson from the Gottman Institute. In the example above, acknowledging that your fiancé is working on their time management could have de-escalated the situation. Practicing sending and receiving repair attempts can help improve the quality of your relationship.
  • Step 3: Soothe Yourself and Each Other. If you know you’re too upset to have a conversation at the moment, take a 20-30 minute break and try and “focus on the positives of your relationship by yourself.” When you’re “Flooded, ” as Dr. John Gottman refers to it, your brain is flooded with stress hormones and chemicals that make it nearly impossible for your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain responsible for complex problem-solving, to function. As a result, you can’t physiologically function as you normally would. You can’t communicate as you normally should. Acknowledge what makes you feel flooded, talk about the best way and time to bring up issues to each other, how your partner can soothe you and what signals you can give each other to clue the other into how you’re feeling.
  • Step 4: Compromise. When you negotiate, you accept each other’s imperfections while recognizing your relationship is more important than the argument and being right.
  • Step 5: Address Emotional Injuries. Sometimes how you fight is what hurts more than what you were fighting about. Be open to talking it out and processing what you two went through. Accept responsibility and learn from your fights.

Fighting with your fiancé doesn’t have to be all bad—it can be an area for growth and an opportunity to understand each other’s differences better. A great way to fight for your relationship is by preparing for marriage. Consider premarital education or counseling to set yourselves up with the tools you need to thrive in your relationship.

Some other blogs you might find helpful!

10 RULES TO “FIGHT NICE” WITH YOUR SPOUSE

TOP 10 POTENTIAL MARRIAGE PITFALLS

10 GREAT DATES BEFORE YOU SAY “I DO”

10 RED FLAGS IN A DATING RELATIONSHIP

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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We may have just celebrated a major holiday, but why not keep the fun going? Pick a random holiday (it can be major like Christmas or something smaller like Earth Day) to celebrate together! You don’t have to wait till the actual date of that holiday, but you can recreate this DIY date night the next time the holiday comes around! Below are some examples of supplies you may use for some popular holidays, but creativity is always encouraged!

Christmas Supplies:

  • A small, wrapped gift for each other
  • Christmas lights hung in the living room or bedroom
  • Your traditional Christmas meal for dinner
  • Your favorite Christmas music to dance to
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • What’s your favorite holiday song?
    • What’s the best present you’ve ever received?
    • What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Valentine’s Day Supplies:

  • Chocolates (of course!)
  • Roses or other flowers
  • A romantic, candlelit meal
  • A bubble bath for two
  • Massage oils
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • When you do feel most loved by me?
    • How would you describe me in three words?
    • What is my most attractive quality to you?

Earth Day Supplies:

  • Plant flowers, trees, or veggies in your yard, garden, or on your porch
  • Pick one single-use item in your house to replace with a reusable item (plastic water bottles → reusable, getting reusable grocery bags, plastic baggies → reusable containers, etc.)
  • Make a plant-based meal for dinner
  • Go on a walk or hike in a park
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • Where is your favorite place to be outside? (Beach, Mountains, Woods, etc.)
    • If it was our last day on Earth, what would you want to do together?
    • If I were some type of plant, tree or flower, what do you think I would be?

St. Patrick’s Day Supplies:

  • Something green to wear
  • A traditional Irish meal for dinner
  • Shamrock-shaped cookies to decorate
  • Follow a video to learn a traditional Irish dance
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • If you found a pot of gold, what would you do with all that money?
    • What is your favorite St. Paddy’s day tradition?
    • If you could choose one city in Ireland to visit, what would it be?

Halloween Supplies:

  • Dress up in costume
  • Spooky music
  • Make a creepy dessert together (doing a quick Google search will give you great ideas!)
  • Look up scary stories to tell each other or watch a scary movie!
  • Ask each other some questions, like:
    • What’s the best costume you’ve ever dressed up in?
    • What’s the scariest experience you’ve ever had?
    • Do you believe in supernatural spirits / ghosts / demons? 

There’s just something about holidays that create an extra special experience! So take advantage of the excitement, nostalgia or novelty of doing something different with your love! Make this unique DIY date night one to remember!

Looking for more DIY date night ideas?

Check out ALL of our DIY Date Nights!

And what about something even MORE unique?

Check out our FREE Live Virtual date night events on Facebook!

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I just want to feel our love—the love we are spending time, energy, and money on celebrating. I miss the lack of urgency in answering questions and exchanging our ideas to spark conversations instead of polite compromises. When I was in the midst of planning my wedding I didn’t prioritize quality time with my fiancé. When we saw each other it was business. We sat in the tension of wanting romance but not knowing how to be both productive and passionate about each other. Learn from my mistake and get you and yours on a date! 

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia did a study on how date nights affect couples. According to the study The Date Night Opportunity by W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew (University of Virginia, 2012):

In these data sets, husbands’ and wives’ reports of couple time were associated with higher relationship quality. For example, Figure 1 shows that husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.

You are preparing for marriage as you prepare for your wedding. You will be someone’s husband or wife. Take what you see from the research and practice this habit so that it becomes muscle memory for your marriage! Don’t let the quantity of time you’re spending together blur with the meaning of quality time with your fiancé. 

How to Spend Quality Time with Your Fiancé While Planning a Wedding:

  1. Go over both of your schedules together. If you are making time to plan, to grocery shop, or to hang out with friends then you can surely make time to be intentional with your future spouse! Re-allocate your time and try to spend time together at least once a week. P.S. Try your best to refrain from talking about the wedding during this time—unless it’s about how excited you are!
  1. Be intentional with your time. Now that you have carved out some precious time together, don’t waste it! Put up the screens and put in the effort. Talk about how you two can love each other well. If you don’t know what your love language is, take the test and find out. Enjoy falling in love with each other over and over again (as well as learning to love each other better and better.)
  1. Cultivate intimacy. To have intimacy you have to spend quality time together. Communicating your desires, thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively and often are a sure-fire way to keep your connection with each other close. In this same vein, pursue each other. There’s nothing like the feeling of being worth someone’s time and effort. When you pursue your spouse-to-be, you are communicating to them they are valuable and deserving of your love. And for goodness’ sake—kiss! “A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy.” According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

You have your life together ahead of you. Let’s start it out with some healthy habits and making sure your relationship is the priority.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to get the most quality out of your time set aside for each other, here is a link to date nights that perfectly mix together fun, romance, and facilitate natural connection… Pro-Tip: They’re free! (Which I know is a plus since weddings aren’t always cheap.)

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This 4th of July is one for the books, no doubt. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a date night with your honey! If you’re stuck in your hometown without your annual fireworks display, check out this date night to set off some fireworks of your own (if you know what we mean)!

Supplies:

  • Fingerpaint (red and blue preferred!)
  • Water
  • 2 Super Soakers or water blasters
  • White/light colored shirts (bathing suit underneath is a good idea!)
  • A large open space (back yard, park, etc.)
  • Sun glasses or goggles (optional)
  • A picnic & blanket (optional)
  • Paper towels (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Head to your back yard or a local park with all your supplies. (Be wearing your light=colored shirt!)
  2. Carefully pour a small amount of fingerpaint into each Super Soaker. Red in one and blue in the other.
  3. Pour some water into the Super Soaker and shake until well combined.
  4. Keep adding water/fingerpaint until the mixture is runny enough to come out but colored enough to see.
  5. Stand back to back, each with a Super Soaker, and count down from 3.
  6. Then… It’s on! Have a water fight with your honey!
  7. When one person has had enough, or your soakers are out of water, enjoy a picnic together!

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Prioritizing your marriage over your wedding is a beautiful place to grow from. While the wedding day itself is dreamt of, saved for, and planned out, it can be magical without being financially detrimental. You’ll find you carry over some of the same conversations you had while planning your wedding while having conversations about preparing for marriage. What you two talk about in regard to how to save money for the big day will probably lead you to some great ideas you take with you after the wedding season.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you talked about:

  • Cutting down on how often you eat and drink out
  • Combining subscriptions like Netflix, Spotify or Apple Music
  • Buying some used things instead of buying all new things
  • Setting saving goals
  • Packing your lunch
  • Paying off debt
  • Asking friends and family if they have something you need

Research from the Gottman Institute shows that one of the biggest reasons couples fight is because of money. You can avoid this by getting on the same page and goal-setting together! When the two of you have a conversation about how you spend your money separately and how you can save together, you’ll find that while working as a team, you’re strengthening your relationship. You’ll inevitably align your priorities and practice making important decisions together. It’s a win-win. So let’s get down to business: You want to save money for your wedding, so here are some great ways to do so with a little advice from NerdWallet and my own wedding experience!

Money-Saving Tips for Planning Your Wedding:

  • If you’re expecting to be engaged soon, start saving. If you know the two of you are planning to get married, start saving as soon as possible! My husband and I looked at our monthly income and cost of living and found room where we could save. Some months we saved $500 each, some $300. You have to figure out what works best for you. The best part about starting a few months prior to being engaged is that we could pay for things as we made decisions and we knew we had stability from the get-go.
  • Consider having an intimate wedding! COVID-19 has made guests joining in over Zoom or Facebook Live sexy. All of the money you’ll save on food, beverages, a DJ, venue, extra hours from photographers, the rehearsal dinner with extended family, bridesmaids and groomsmen can go straight into investing in your own marriage! Maybe you can save money based on what you were willing to pay for a bigger wedding and put it away as an emergency or fun fund!
  • Skip the Saturday wedding. Planning your wedding for a Sunday or weekday can save you thousands! (I know from experience—my husband and I saved $1.5k by having a Sunday wedding.)
  • Think outside the box for a venue. Vacation home, if you know someone with property, government-owned historical sites, restaurants, State Parks (so, so cheap), etc.
  • Use the venue’s resources. Using a venue that offers chairs and tables is a huge plus! Ask what’s included.
  • Design and send your own invites. Go paperless for the younger friends! Canva has tons of free designs. The two best pro-tips I can give is to only send formal invites to those you know wouldn’t be as tech-savvy and email the rest. If you do decide to print, here is part 2: use Staples to print. Don’t upload your design as an invitation, but as a postcard! It cost us maybe $48 for 250 “Save the Dates” and postage costs less for postcards as well! We did the same things with our invitations but put them in an envelope and used the back as a place for more information. (P.S. The average cost for stationery/postage items like those listed is over $400… I just told you a way to do both for about $100). My wedding planner book told me to budget $800?!?
  • Buy Wholesale Flowers. You can put arrangements together yourself and save $150 alone on what people charge for making bridal bouquets!
  • Check the sale rack and wedding dress samples first! Your dress won’t be any less beautiful if you get a great deal.
  • Borrow anything you can! Everything from accessories, centerpieces from friends or family members who have gotten married, decorations… anything!
  • Cut down on a store-bought cake. Trust me, you don’t need as much cake as you think. Get a nice personal cake to cut into for you and your spouse and ask some friends and family to make the rest. This worked out beautifully for us.
  • Limit Plus-Ones. If someone isn’t seriously dating, they don’t need one! On the flip side, just because someone is dating, doesn’t mean you need to invite the significant other—especially if you aren’t close to them! If someone is coming from out of town, offering a plus-one to travel with is thoughtful.

Be up front with each other while planning your wedding and figure out what your priorities are. Remember, your wedding day is the beginning, but your marriage is the rest of the story. One of the best reasons to save money on your wedding is so you can invest directly into your marriage! Enjoy this season, but anticipate the sweetness that follows. Being married is just the best!! (I’m biased, but I’d like to think I’m also honest.)

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Marriage is the best! But it’s not perfect. If you’re engaged, I think it’s only fair someone breaks the news to you. There are some definite misconceptions when it comes to being married

Having recently been in your shoes (about a year ago now), I’m glad to have figured this out! My hope is that you have an amazing first year of marriage and many years to follow. A great place to start is with clearing up a few misconceptions about marriage. Whether you are finding out about or being reminded of these 5 things, I encourage you to seriously consider them. 

Misconception #1. Marriage will solve whatever problems you currently have.

As amazing as that would be, a title and official seal of foreverness does not equal problem-free reality. If you know something is creating friction for you now while you’re engaged… work on it before “I do.” The hardest conversations are always worth having and though they may not feel great in the moment, they are more than likely the most important to have. (Besides, you may have the luxury of going back to your own place if you need some space. Once you’re living together you only have a few rooms to work with, and that may only be the bathroom if you’re in a one-bedroom like me!) You want to start this new chapter fresh. Lessen your baggage by bringing in more solutions than problems. You have to put in some legwork, but it’s so worth it!

Misconception #2. Your spouse will be the only emotional support system you’ll need.

Wooowee on this one. Let me tell you, you will be very disappointed if you fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re marrying someone to be their one and only, they’ll be the only one you need. To hold an expectation for your spouse that they are the only key to your happiness, comforting you when you’re sad, or even magically want to pick up and join you in all of your hobbies is to be disappointed. Just like you, your fiancé is human and when they become your spouse, they will be human then, too. 

My dad died unexpectedly this year, one month into our marriage. I am 24, so it feels young. Though my husband was absolutely there to hold me, I needed someone to talk with to verbally process what just happened. My husband is an internal processor and doesn’t want to say anything until he feels like he has the right words to say. Instead of putting pressure on him to try and talk to me in depth about what was going on and potentially being upset by how he handled it, I called my best girlfriend. She processes things like I do. That’s what I needed. This didn’t make my husband any less loving or capable (because goodness he is the most loving)it just gave us both the space to do what we needed. He supported me by not leaving my side and holding me while my best friend talked me through my emotions. 

It’s healthy to have people you can depend on outside of your own home. Having an opportunity to navigate this so early in our marriage really got us on the right track. Even though it was a painful and tragic thing to happen, it was so good for our marriage because it reminded us that we don’t have to carry the weight of being the only source of stability for each other. It takes a village!

Misconception #3. You’ll hang out all the time because you live together.

Would be nice, but isn’t exactly as it seems. I hope I’m not breaking any hearts here—I’m just wanting to be honest with you. Though you do spend a lot of time together, it looks different than while dating. Your love life and work life are a little more separate when you aren’t married. I love the perks of coming home to my handsome man. We share bills, chores, meals over candlelight, and a bed! 

Despite coming home to each other, if you both work a full-time job, that’s 40 hours a week apart (let’s set COVID-19 aside as the exception here for a moment) you aren’t together. Then you come home, if you work out after your job, have to make dinner, clean up, shower or prepare for the next day of work, you begin to notice how coming home at 5 and getting enough sleep leaves only a few hours to get everything done. 

Just breathing the same air or sitting on the same couch doesn’t mean you’re really connecting. We are so guilty of being on our phones while next to each other and look up at the time and just ask where it went. We’ve gone to bed saying “I missed you today” or “I feel like we didn’t even see each other!” while being in the same house. (Let’s bring COVID-19 back for a moment because this was recent while working from home!) 

Quantity of time together doesn’t equal quality. Quality time takes being intentional and showing an effort. If you are blessed enough to have the same schedule, use it to your advantage and enjoy each other and enjoy meaningful time together. There are many couples who don’t have the luxury of sharing meals together with one person working the night shift and the other the morning shift. I’m not trying to guilt trip you into hanging out… ok, maybe I am just a little, but you’ll thank me. Have a family meeting and talk about your schedule. Pencil in quality time together.

Misconception #4. The first year is the hardest year.

I’m going to be honest. Hearing people say this frustrates me. Your first year does not have to be your hardest! Take it from someone who has dealt with: losing and starting a new job, losing their father, my husband being crashed into while driving my car (that we just had fixed), my mom getting in a wreck, my husband’s trip to the ER (an expensive date for four stitches lemme tell ya), my husband getting more responsibility at work which meant more work at home, unexpected bills, family members in the hospital, COVID-19 and quarantine… I could go on. That all sounds like a recipe for conflict and stress—but it wasn’t. Each situation that went wrong was an opportunity to grow closer together.

Was it hard? Some parts, but it was also so sweet. In the midst of all of those things: we fell more in love, rescued two of the sweetest kitties, got to travel, went  camping, played tons of games, experienced new things, danced in the kitchen (many times) while making dinner, laughed at each other and ourselves, came home to our best friend, spend more uninterrupted quality time with each other than ever before (thank you, quarantine), learned new things about each other, shared stories, made a lot of memories, and the list could go on. 

We consciously made an effort to continue pursuing each other, assume the best of one another, have a good attitude, resolve conflict, and be romantic. 

We have been together almost 8 years and this year topped them all. If you put in the work and continue to pursue each other, I bet your first year can be wonderful despite whatever life may throw at you.

Misconception #5. Your spouse will know everything you want.

So remember how I said your fiancé, once you marry them, will still be human when they become your spouse? Yeah. This remains true a few paragraphs later. Unfortunately, when you reach husband or wife status, you don’t become a mind reader! (Mind-blowing, I’m sure.) I am SO guilty of this, and I definitely have a natural ability to pick up on feelings other people don’t. (For you Enneagram people out there, I am a 2!).

I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have had the conversation about needing to tell each other what we need and what we want. Sometimes, when we assume, we get it wrong. You know how the saying goes. Even though you two know each other better than anyone else, it’s dangerous to presume that they know what you mean without saying or explaining it. You’re going to have to keep working at communication.

This goes back to the expectations thing I mentioned before. You have to play your part in informing the other person what it is that is really on your mind and heart. Communication is king. If there’s one thing to become a pro at in marriage, it’s communicating (I’m sure you could think of a few more areas to be well-versed in). 

Communicate often and clearly. Never put yourself in the position of thinking you know everything there is to know about your spouse. You’ll get bored! Being married isn’t a finish line—it’s the beginning of an ongoing process.

*Helpful hint for the ladies: they still don’t pick up on hints. Just save yourself the trouble and ask very direct questions, *wink wink.*

With these common misconceptions about marriage out in the open, I hope you have a better understanding of what not to expect. Truly, perspective and expectations are everything. You and your fiancé will navigate all of it together—you aren’t alone! As some of these things try and sneak their way into your marriage, I hope you feel equipped to kick them out! Oh, and smooch along the way… it’s good for you.

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Sure, vacations are canceled and this summer is going to look a lot different than you intended. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun pretending to travel on your DIY Date Night Around the World! Now before you roll your eyes, hear us out… There are so many great ways to feel like you’ve gone exploring, even if you haven’t left your town!

You could plan a future vacation somewhere far away. Research places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and things to do! Get it all planned out for a later date.

  • Supplies:
    • A computer
    • A notebook (or use your computer again!)
    • A little creativity!

OR you could take a drive without a destination and explore the town you’re in! It’s also a great time to pull out some great date night questions. (In need of a few? Combine two of our at-home date nights and play Truth or Dare along the way!)

  • Supplies:
    • A car
    • A deck of cards (optional)

You can also try and recreate famous landmarks from the comfort of your own home for your DIY Date Night! Try making a cardboard cutout of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and pose with it as if you were actually there! For an extra spin on things, get a disposable camera to take pictures of all the landmarks you “went” to! Don’t feel like all the effort? Take some virtual tours of famous places around the world, instead! Just click here.

  • Supplies:
    • A camera
    • A little creativity

Image from Pexels.com