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What Britney Spears Has to Teach Us About Alone Time in Marriage

Turns out, taking care of yourself helps you take care of each other.

Want a healthy, lasting marriage? Be prepared to be alone and focus on yourself. Totally. Backed. By. Research. “Alone Time” is part of what is frequently referred to as “Self-Care.” You and your spouse need it. You both probably work and stuff, so free time is couple time, right? And it should be. That’s why you got married. 

But not all free time should be couple time. You both need some alone time to recharge and recalibrate. This is part of you working to grow into the best possible version of yourself. No worries, the “self” in “self-care” isn’t self-ish. You and your spouse plan and prioritize alone time so couple time can be more meaningful. (And more fun!)

How much alone time in marriage do I need?

What do I do with it?

What if my spouse wants or needs more or less time?

How do we talk about it?

You’re asking all the right questions. Here’s why we need to answer them…

This month, the new unauthorized Britney Spears documentary, The New York Times Presents “Framing Britney Spears” premiered on FX and Hulu. It generated over a million tweets the first night. The premiere coincides with the growing #FreeBritney movement as lawyers convene to debate if the 39-year-old pop icon is competent to manage her own life.

Since 2008, Britney Spears has been placed under a “conservatorship” managed by her father and various lawyers. (You remember why. Head-shaving and whatnot.) This is a legal arrangement usually reserved for people in a coma, those who suffer from mental illness, and the elderly. Under these circumstances, Spears has not been allowed to:

  • Vote.
  • Drive.
  • Manage her money.
  • Make career decisions.
  • Get married.
  • Have children.
  • Have custody of her children.
  • Speak publicly about the conservatorship. (Kuhn-sur-vuh-ter-ship. Takes a few tries.)
  • Testify on behalf of herself regarding her mental, emotional, physical competency.

For over 12 freakin’ years! Imagine living like this! 

During this time, “she” has released three successful albums and one… um… not. (Sorry, Britney Jean.) “She” has completed world tours and a four-year, $140 million Las Vegas gig. “She” has launched fragrance and clothing lines. So, “she” has been busy. But other people manage her life. 

★ If you aren’t actively and mindfully managing yourself, who or what is? Imagine living like this! Just because you’re busy doing all the things, even the successful things, it doesn’t mean you’re taking care of yourself. In fact, busyness is the biggest enemy of healthy, constructive alone time.

So, those questions about alone time in marriage:

How much alone time do I need?

There’s no formula for calculating the ratio of couple time to alone time. Well, actually, there is. Research says 70/30, but I don’t want you looking at your watch. I’d rather you listen

Listen to:

  • Your spouse. 
  • Trusted friends. 
  • Your body. 

Any signs you’re not your usual self? Drifting away from your goals? Feelings building up? Body breaking down? Time for some alone time. NOTE: Ideally, you plan some alone time into your day and week to avoid getting some sorta way. Just sayin’.

What do I do with it?

Journal. Meditate. Exercise. Origami. Whatever helps you be healthy and “competent.” Mentally, emotionally, and physically. And hey, alone time doesn’t have to be a lonely time. Build friendships and socialize with people that encourage and energize you.

What if my spouse wants or needs more or less time?

It’s all good! Everyone is different. You’ll have seasons when you want or need more or less.

How do we talk about alone time?

This is important. It’s not just blurting it out. (Okay, it kinda might be sometimes.) You want to cultivate communication and a relationship where you and your spouse can speak to each other honestly and vulnerably. And hear each other with your hearts. Not just about your needs for alone time, but everything else in your marriage.

I’m gonna leave you alone now. Marriage is two individuals becoming a team for life. You owe it to yourself and your spouse to be a healthy, growing individual. Remember, if you don’t take care of you, something else will. You manage you.

More blogs you might find helpful:

Your wedding was not the most important day in your marriage. Today is.

What if I could tell you about the future of your marriage? For the moment, let’s say I can. (Because I can.) Brace yourself, my newlywed friend. I come from over 25 years in the future of your marriage. What do you want to know?

This isn’t some Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or The Time Traveler’s Wife kinda stuff. This is way better. See, I’ve been married for over 27 years, and I’m neck-deep in marriage research. I stuffed all that in my time machine and set the coordinates for your present.

I’ve got five bold reveals about what your future marriage holds. Ready?

5. You’ll begin to take your spouse for granted.

This is a human nature thing. The newness wears off. You’ll settle into routines. The ordinariness of life inevitably sets in. You’ll start to expect your spouse to know and do things. 

I don’t wanna get into time travel paradoxes and whatnot, but you can avoid this future. One researcher advises three ways to NOT take your spouse for granted:

  • Reunite well after being apart. (Big hug and kiss. I missed you! How was your day?
  • Have a few minutes of focused communication each day. (How are you doing? Anything I can do for you? Anything you want to talk about?
  • Practice gratitude and thankfulness for your spouse daily. (And not just for what they do, but for who they are as a person and how they demonstrate love to you.)

4. You’ll discover that you (and your spouse) need individual time alone.

It may be difficult to believe right now, but in the future, you and your spouse are gonna need some time alone to take care of yourselves. This time recharges your batteries and helps your mind, heart, and body stay healthy. You’re gonna need to hang out with quality friends that encourage you and refresh you. Your spouse needs the same. This will have to be a priority that you plan, or it probably won’t happen. This individual alone time will enrich your time together as a couple and deepen your marriage.

3. You’ll have sex less frequently, but it’ll be more satisfying.

There will be seasons in your marriage when you’ll have more sex, and sometimes, less. This is totally normal and lines up with a lot of research. The flip side is that sex itself will be way more fulfilling. Sex with someone who is committed and works to nurture intimacy with your mind, heart, AND body is GREAT SEX. Put your focus there. Ultimately, you and your spouse should have as much sex as you both want and need to have. You’ll understand that sex is one of your ongoing conversations in your marriage.

2. You’ll fight a lot (especially the first few years), but you’ll learn to fight better. 

Living with someone is hard, even someone you love dearly. You and your spouse are two different individuals. Yes, you got married and formed a team, but that didn’t make your individual differences evaporate. Living together, you’ll see each other’s “real” self more clearly. You’ll hit a season when that cute thing they do isn’t so cute anymore. You’ll face decisions and have different perspectives and priorities. And you’ll find out some of your goals don’t quite line up. This is the stuff of marriage. Arguments, fights, and debates will ensue. All. Perfectly. Normal.

You can totally learn how to fight more effectively. Take turns speaking and listening. Don’t escalate with volume, tone, body language, or sarcasm and mean-spirited comments. No bringing up past healed wounds. Make sure you keep the problem, the problem—not the person. Fight for your spouse, not about your spouse. Fight for your marriage, not about it.

Work toward compromise, not winning. Now your future looks so bright!

1. Your wedding was not the most important day in your marriage. Today is.

Time looped full circle from the first line! It’s that important. Learn lessons from the past. Maybe forgive and let go of it. Let it inspire trust and security. The future? Plan for it. Look forward to it. But realize today is all you’ve got. Be in the moment with your spouse. There’s no time travel. There’s just today.

I’ve gotta scoot. There’s a newlywed in Boise who thinks her new husband will never pick his friends over her. Gotta hurry!

***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 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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Do I Have Post-Wedding Blues?

Don’t beat yourself up over the blues; just beat ‘em.

“Post-Wedding Blues” are absolutely a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. And definitely don’t feel bad for feeling them. You don’t need to be worried or secretly guilt-ridden. 

“Blues” are totally understandable. And you can get your head around your heart. Check this out… 

Which of these television couples were you just hoping could make it happen?

  • Ross & Rachel – Friends (“We were on a break!”) 
  • Summer & Seth – The O.C. (That upside-down Spider-Man kiss!)
  • Luke & Lorelai – Gilmore Girls (We knew they loved more than coffee.)
  • Cory & Topanga – Boy Meets World (Aww… Thank goodness for Mr. Feeny!)
  • Jim & Pam – The Office (Rooting. From. Episode. One.)

This is the old “will they or won’t they” television trope. And we eat it up! Two characters that we, the viewers, just know in our hearts should be together forever, but they just can’t. As we hope, they circle each other across episodes and seasons. We’re rooting for them as they overcome obstacles, differences, rivals, or wait on Fate, Destiny… or the series finale. You can slice the chemistry and sexual tension with an iPad. Then, finally! They get to be together! Or don’t. (Lookin’ at you Dawson’s Creek.) 

★ But here’s the thing, sometimes after our favorite couple finally gets together, the big huge buildup leaves us feeling a weird combo of relief and sadness. We’re happy, but we miss the anticipation. If their relationship isn’t all fireworks afterward, we can feel disappointed. With some shows, after the couple finally makes it happen and the big buildup has evaporated, we wonder if we should have binge-watched four seasons, and we feel some regret.

Sounds kinda like “Post-Wedding Blues.” (Please revisit that last paragraph with that in mind.)

Just like you can catch some Post-Favorite-Television-Couple-Finally-Got-Together Blues, it’s normal to catch some unexpected emotions in the weeks and months after the wedding. Your real-life favorite couple finally got together! But you’re feeling some… stuff. It’s as common as Ross not being able to get out of his own way.

Honest Question:

Is it possible you were consumed by months (years) of buildup? You’re busy planning your wedding, riding the rush from checking things off your list, and drenched in anticipation—you just weren’t quite prepared for the marriage after the wedding

You might have created sitcom “happily ever after” expectations, and then “Reality TV” busts in with jobs, bills, routines, and the averageness of everyday life. Settling in can feel like settling.

How To Beat The Blues:

  1. Talk to your spouse. They could be feeling some similar things. Normalizing it helps neutralize it. This is an excellent opportunity to grow together as you work together.
  2. Look back. Remind yourself of what first attracted you to your spouse. What made you think your relationship could be special? Scroll through those pics and videos.
  3. Look ahead. Start planning date nights and your own traditions. Now is the time to think about the marital legacy you’re working toward.
  4. Look around. Rethink your routines. The “average, ordinary” stuff is lowkey the best part of being married. How can you seize “everyday” moments and soak them in as you connect with your spouse?

Don’t beat yourself up over the blues; just beat ‘em. Your marriage will be its own Netflix-worthy dramedy streaming ahead of you in Hi-Res glory. Binge it up. Or, as Pam puts it in the final line of the last episode of The Office, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” (That’s what she said.)

Check these out:

***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 your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Engagement season is upon you—congrats, by the way!! With the pretty ring comes some planning, excitement, questions, and ultimately preparing for marriage! With that being said, here are 5 tips to help newly engaged couples thrive during the engagement season:

1. Have the big conversations before you’re deep into planning.

If you haven’t already, make sure you and your fiancé are on the same page about big ticket items by having intentional conversations. Things like whether or not you want kids, job/career expectations, finances, how you handle conflict, spirituality/religion you want to carry forward, etc. 

Here’s a great blog to walk you through why each of those is important! You’re making a wonderful lifelong commitment.  Reminding each other you’re on the same page (or finding out that you’re not) with these things can help you decide what’s best for you both in the long run. Also, consider some sort of marriage preparation to enrich your relationship! We have a free online preparing for marriage course you should really check out! (And, if you live in WV, TN, GA or FL, it will qualify you for a hefty discount on your marriage license. Cha-ching!)

5 tips for newly engaged couples

2. Decide how long you want your engagement to be.

Before you worry about picking a date, consider what’s best for your relationship. Long or short engagement? Is there a particular season you want to get married? What’s going on in your life currently that could affect when you can get married? If you’re not sure how long you should be engaged, you can read research-based reasons for both a long and short engagement here.

3. Discuss your budget for the wedding.

This will affect how many people you’ll invite to your wedding, the location, and may even help you decide on a date. If you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, the length of your engagement may reflect the time it’ll take to save. Remember, this day marks the beginning of a lifetime together. You want to start out on the right foot. Because finances can be one of the main sources for conflict in marriage, consider planning a beautiful day that doesn’t leave you or your loved ones in debt. This may sound crazy, but U.S. weddings cost an average of $33,900 in 2019, including all the expenses related to the engagement ring, ceremony, and reception, according to the latest Real Weddings study from The Knot. So, remember, the cost of your wedding doesn’t reflect how successful your marriage will be.

4. Make time for quality time.

As I’m sure you’ve been told and can imagine, planning your wedding can become time-consuming, a conversation hog, and, to top it off—overwhelming. If you feel stressed, irritable, or unusually short-tempered with your fiancé, it’s probably time to do something other than talk about the future and hash out the details. Your wedding day is a celebration of your relationship! It’s sooooo important not to put your relationship on the back burner. So, make spending quality time together a priority. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but doing things to help you take your mind off of wedding planning will be helpful for sure. Check out this link for some great ideas! 

5. Don’t assume—ask!

You and your fiancé are in this thing together. Just because you know them best doesn’t mean you know everything they want or you can accurately anticipate all of their opinions. I’ll be the bearer of bad news: getting married won’t make you mind readers either. Everyone likes to feel heard and likes what they have to say to be valued. It’s possible you two have very similar ideas when it comes to your dream day, but just to be safe, talk about it. Each of you write down your dreams for what you want your wedding to be like, then compare notes and find places to compromise. You’ll find out not long after you’re married how important it is to invite the middle ground into your relationship.

This is an exciting season for you and your relationship! Don’t let the details get the best of you; instead give your best to each other and take it one step at a time. This is just the beginning of a beautiful life together. Cheers, for the best is yet to come!

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

Your wedding day is approaching. You’re looking forward to all the benefits of a fun, stable, vibrant marriage: deep intimacy, unbreakable connection, and unconditional friendship. Taking the time to prepare for your marriage can help you mix all the ingredients necessary for a strong relationship and satisfying marriage. Here’s howand why preparing for your marriage and make your relationship stronger!

Fewer surprises.

You’ve probably imagined what married life will be like. You think about what you’ll do for each other, the late-night talks, the early morning rendezvous. You have developed the “perfect” expectations of married life and of your soon-to-be spouse. But, there’s one problem—your future spouse wasn’t in on those conversations. They’ve only been formulating in your mind

Talking honestly about your expectations helps you enter the marriage with eyes wide open. You may get an even better sense of the person you’ve fallen in love with. Do you uncover every single expectation in the process of preparation? No. You learn how to recognize expectations and become more attuned to verbalize them… which leads us to the second benefit.

Communication becomes a strength.

In high school, if I gave you a good study guide several days before you had to take the actual test, you’d have a better chance of doing really well on that test. It’s those students with no study guide who would be at a disadvantage. Part of preparing for marriage is getting the study guide, the keys to communication in marriage, prior to getting married. Preparing for marriage means putting yourself at the head of the class when it comes to communication and feeling good about being heard, understood, and valued.

Plan for transforming conflict into intimacy.

It’s not uncommon in marriage for one spouse to want to avoid conflict at all costs, while the other spouse thinks of it more like a sport, which can lead to some super awkward moments. For the prepared couple, learning to dance together through conflict can be the springboard to unbridled and passionate intimacy.  There will be disagreements. How can this make your relationship stronger? Disagreements and conflict are often the prerequisite for increased intimacy, unbreakable connection, and a fierce security. 

Gain clarity on some of marriage’s biggest topics.

Money, in-laws, parenting, intimacy. What to do with her bonus check? Letting his mom know you’re not visiting for Sunday dinner. If and when do we want to have kids? What makes each of you feel most intimate with one another? These are all topics that can bring joy to the marriage if you can get out in front of them as a couple. Receiving advice and guidance on dealing with key topics prior to marriage can help you be on the same page and eliminate unnecessary surprises.

Gives you a better chance of a stable, satisfying, lengthy marriage.

Everyone who gets married wants a stable, satisfying, lengthy marriage. In preparing for life after the wedding, you’re actually doing something about it. Research found that relationship satisfaction and success is more about each person’s perception of the relationship and less about choosing the “perfect” person for you. Intentionally preparing for your marriage can improve how the two of you perceive and interact with one another. As a result, you are giving yourself a better chance of a committed and fulfilling relationship.

Preparing for your marriage can make your relationship stronger, and it can take many forms: premarital education and premarital counseling are the most direct and intentional methods. You’ll discuss each of the topics mentioned in the most effective settings. Research from Scott Stanley and others has shown that couples who receive premarital preparation are less likely to divorce. In addition, inviting healthy, married couples for coffee and dessert to pick their brains on how to have a strong relationship can be invaluable as you prepare for your big day. Preparing for your marriage will not only give you a head start to a thriving marriage, just as importantly, it will also strengthen your relationship in the process. A strong relationship is just the ingredient you need for a thriving marriage.

Sign up for First Things First’s Preparing for Marriage class today!

Image from Unsplash.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

OMG! It finally happened! I’m engaged! There are so many things to do:

  • Venue 
  • Bridal Party
  • Flowers
  • Wedding Dress
  • Ceremony and Reception
  • Honeymoon location

Once you’re engaged, the focus turns to make sure that the “Wedding of Your Dreams” occurs. Yes, your wedding is important, and there are many details that go into making your wedding an event to remember. I couldn’t wait to plan the wedding of my dreams. I didn’t stop to consider that the wedding is not the destination. It is, however, the beginning of your marriage journey.

Have you considered what comes after the big day?

What about the marriage of your dreams?

What are you doing to prepare for your marriage

Here are some of the things I wish someone had shared with me

It’s not all about ME anymore, but about WE:

Once you get married, you and your spouse are a family. Decisions and expectations are no longer one-sided. It is important to consider the thoughts and feelings of your spouse.

Ask The Right Questions About the Big Topics.

  • Children: Are we hoping to have children? When? How many?
  • If we do have children and both of us are working, how will we handle that?
  • In-Laws: How involved will they be? What are expectations regarding holidays, family dinners, birthdays?
  • Money: Do we have a budget? Separate or joint bank accounts? What about debt? (Student loan, credit card, etc.) Who will pay the bills? What are our goals? 
  • Friendships: How will our friendships be the same or different? Opposite-Sex Friendships? How much time do we spend with separate friends?
  • Goals/Dreams: What is your dream job? Where do you want to live?
  • Legacy: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Family legacy?

Be open for change.

Even when you have talked about the “big-ticket items,” be ready and open for opportunities you don’t expect to come up. One month after our wedding, my husband made a career change that changed our lives. We moved 800 miles away from friends and family so he could attend graduate school. He hinted at the change during our engagement, but I never truly considered it a possibility. I decided to make the most of the adventures and opportunities represented. Looking back, that was one of the best things for helping us build a strong marriage.

Friendships might shift.

You might see some friends less and see some friends more. As a couple, you might become friends with some other couples. Getting married doesn’t mean giving up your friendships, but you might have to be intentional about maintaining and caring for those friendships. You both still need friends, but make sure they are friends that are for your marriage.

Be prepared to go all-in.

Being married is not something to do half-heartedly. It requires you to give your time, energy, and effort. Go all-in for your marriage not because you have to or are supposed to, but because you CHOOSE your spouse and your marriage. It takes Intentionality. 

Realize your marriage journey will not look like anyone else’s.

In the first five years of our marriage, my husband and I moved five times between three different states. When I looked at the marriages of other friends and family, none of them looked like mine. I compared mine to theirs and felt mine lacked stability. I had to realize my marriage journey was MY marriage journey. As a result of the many moves, we learned to lean and depend on each other. Wherever we ended up was fine because any place with the two of us was HOME.

Seek Premarital Education.

There are a plethora of opportunities to seek premarital education from a variety of sources. You may choose any or all of these options to help you prepare for marriage.

  • First Things First has an online premarital course
  • The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman. 
  • Mentor Couple—find a married couple with whom you can talk, ask questions, and has the marriage you would like to have.
  • Religious /Spiritual premarital counseling.

The day of your wedding is the beginning of your MARRIAGE JOURNEY. Making time to strengthen your relationship during your engagement will prepare you for more than a day. It will prepare you for a LIFETIME of marriage together. 

Image from Pexels.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

*Clink!* Champagne flutes (or rocks glasses if it’s your preference) meet to toast the “Yes!” you just said. Before you even have the chance to sit down, enjoy the butterflies and process what just happened, the congratulations come serendipitously. People begin to ask ALL THE QUESTIONS, poking at what’s next—

Have you picked a date?

Do you know where you’ll have the wedding? Surely a place easy for out-of-town guests to get to?

What kind of dress do you want?

Being engaged is a whirlwind. Do yourself a favor and set aside your expectations while you call upon every easygoing/adaptable fiber in your being.

Here Are 8 Things No One Tells You About Being Engaged:

1. You’ll have to tell the proposal story over and over and over—probably even on your wedding day.

It’s sweet to relive the question you’ve waited for… maybe the first 10 times. But you’ll tell it more than 10 times, so don’t let it surprise you if strangers who notice your ring ask about the intimate details of your proposal. *Take a deep breath* and give yourself a break. You don’t have to feel guilty if it gets old! The magic or relief you felt during the proposal is not dimmed because you don’t feel like narrating your own life. Consider an engagement party where you tell it in person to a group of your closest friends and family. Or, make a post to a social media or wedding website with the story for all your virtual friends to read on their time and not yours.

2. Your parents may have way more opinions on the wedding than they’ve had on your relationship.

Sometimes those endearing parents of yours blur the boundary between being helpful and being controlling. If your parents are trying to control the wedding, have a conversation with your fiancé about how you want to address the situation. Then sit down and talk with your parents. *Some pro advice I got while engaged:  If it’s your parent, youre the spokesperson for that conversation and vice versa (aka blood talks to blood). This advice keeps the us vs. them mentality from creeping in.*

If you’re in a situation where your parents are paying for the wedding, you have to find the balance of respecting their wishes and making some compromises but still making it feel like your day. If you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, there’s a lot more room for saying it isn’t what you have in mind. Of course, in this situation you want to honor your parents. Delegating some tasks is a great way to show you need them and they are important.

3. Friends who have recently gotten married are self-proclaimed wedding planning expertsand they’ll impart their wisdom without you even having to ask!😅

I love how The Knot puts it: Take it in stride. “You should/shouldn’t do this” can come across as telling you what to do and not suggesting what you two could do. At the end of the day, you and your fiancé decide what advice to take and who to listen to. If you take some of their advice, wonderful! But if not, just say thank you and move on.

4. One of you may be more ready to jump into planning than the other.

Sometimes it comes down to a difference in personality. Try not to take it personally if you suspect that may be the reason. 

Be sensitive to each other. Talk about what you two need from this engagement season. Then decide together (this could mean compromising sooner or later than you wanted) on when to start the planning process. You two are on your own timeline. Talk about some of the logistics like when both of your leases end, are you still in school, are you having to move for a job, etc., to get an idea of whether or not there’s an urgency to start this process.

5. It’s not all sweet; planning can cause a lot of tension and stress between you and your fiancé.

The movies make it look like everything perfectly falls into place like a rigged game of Tetris or everything somehow falls apart like the last move in Jenga. The truth is, many people (yourselves included) will ask you questions. Date, location, guest number, food, color scheme, theme, photographer, first look, where are you getting the dress, can I have a plus one… trust me the list goes on and on. I think it’d be silly to say there’s not a chance of it being overwhelming—for one or both of you. 

The reality is you aren’t just planning a wedding, you’re preparing for marriage. The questions start off with wedding day talk but lean seamlessly into your future together. You have finances to consider, serious conversations about kids or no kids, how you want to handle conflict, expectations for who takes care of what in the house, etc. With so much on the table, tension can grip tightly. You may feel like you and your fiancé are fighting more now than ever. If you’re fighting nonstop, take inventory on what it’s about. Is it understandable? Are you spending enough quality time together outside of decision making? Prioritize your relationship over the planning, because your relationship is going to be around much longer than a day.

6. It’s hard to enjoy the engagement season.

For some reasons listed above plus the busyness this season brings, it can be hard to soak in any of the joy. I know I was so excited to be engaged and thought I would feel how I felt when my husband proposed throughout the whole engagement. Some people do. If you’re finding it hard to enjoy, you’re not alone and it’s not a reflection on your excitement to marry the love of your life. If you can, consider delegating some of the responsibilities you have. Spend quality time with your fiancé and find excuses to introduce each other as fiancés because a little recognition of importance goes a long way.

7. You may consider changing how long you thought you’d be engaged: shorter or longer!

Sometimes just when you think you have it figured out, everything changes! It’s neither better nor worse—it just is what it is! If you have gotten engaged during the pandemic or have been engaged during all of this, then you were likely faced with having to consider the options. Change to a later date, get married on the original date (with less people potentially) or decide not to wait any longer because the world may have a lot of uncertainty, but you know one thing is certain—you’re ready to be married!

Outside of the COVID-19 world, life happens and circumstances come up you just don’t expect. Maybe it’s something like a job change or a death in the family. Perhaps it’s acceptance to grad school or a lease opening up at your dream apartment. Whatever comes along, you and your fiancé’s main goal should be a willingness to be flexible for changing up the plans if it’s best for your relationship in the long run. You two may find yourself like me who only had a 6-month engagement and eloping sounded more and more tempting as the days slowly trekked by. On the other hand, you may realize there’s much more to do than you two initially thought. Having a longer engagement would give you the space to make stuff happen without the stress of being rushed.

8. Your relationship feels different.

Even though you’ve anticipated this milestone, it feels different. It’s sweeter looking down at a promise of forever and wearing a symbol to everyone that someone wants you now and whoever you grow to be in the years to come. There’s a comfort and confidence with being engaged (it feels even better when you’re married). 

Sure, there’s some pressure, too. But stay true to who you are (the person they fell in love with) and work on being the best version of you there is.

Hopefully with these 8 things on your radar, you have a better idea of what to expect. I wish you and your sweetheart all of the love, a stress-free (as possible) wedding and most importantly, a beautiful marriage.

Consider these blogs for some additional resources:

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

The morning light playfully casts its shadows on my husband’s face. I ask myself, once again, in my half slumber, if this is really my life. My mornings are filled with “I love you’s” and kisses (morning breath and all) and an alarm set purposely to snooze so we can cozy up to each other before the real world starts knocking. I never pictured something so imperfect feeling so perfect. Our marriage has its flaws like any other relationship, but we’ve used them as reminders of our humanity and mile markers of where we can grow.

This first year of marriage has been a beautiful mess.

Filled with chaos calmed by Tyler’s deep voice and aptitude to forgive and apologize without hesitation, but also with humility. This has been a year of learning to do old things a new way, learning to let go and let loose, and learning even more so, how to love with a reckless abandon. How to love unconditionally even through some harsh conditions. We weathered the storm of my losing a parent and we also learned to be okay with not being able to be everything the other person needs. I needed my husband through that tragedy, but I also needed my best friends and my sisters to help me process what happened in a different way. 

This dreamy relationship of ours isn’t clouded by rose-colored glasses. We are very aware of the gift of newness and the romance it inspires and of the brokenness and falling short we have already done and will continue to do. It’s all a part of it. We have said things that hurt each other. We’ve stayed up late searching for resolutions to issues that we could have prevented if we had communicated our expectations sooner. 

If I’ve learned anything in my first year of marriage, it’s that marriage itself is a state of becoming.

It’s active, not passive. Our relationship as spouses doesn’t get the luxury of the title “Married” solving our problems, having the hard conversations magically disappear, or the sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach a finish line. Marriage is a state of becoming. Becoming closer, more honest (and more tactful), more humble, more loving, more forgiving, more adaptable, and more intentional. 

Our wedding day was the beginning of a public commitment, but we spent almost seven years curating and pruning the best parts of ourselves while revealing our weaknesses. Tyler’s way better at apologizing than I am and I’m better at communicating my feelings on a whim. We get to hold each other accountable—and if we don’t, we miss the potential for our relationship to flourish. It can be tempting to assume you know what your spouse is thinking and feeling on the basis of you knowing them better than anyone else knows them. If we live in a state of assumptions, we miss the chance to get to know each other more intimately. 

We aren’t off the hook now that we have some pretty circles around our fingers. If anything, it has never been more important to press in and run from the idea of getting comfortable. Your lifelong commitment is an active one. It’s not an “I do” to say I already did. 

I’ve learned marriage is a pursuit. Though we may be within a few walls, we still need to go out of our way for each other like we did when we had opposite schedules or were long distance. For us, that may look like sacrificing a night out with a friend if it’s the only night he and I could spend quality time together. Being married means considering each other first; plans don’t just affect you anymore—they affect both of you.

As humans, we are constantly changing, balancing on a tightrope of circumstances in flux—some we don’t have any control over (pandemic anyone?). I don’t fear the tightrope or my lack of balance sometimes because I know my spouse is my safety net. Tyler is there to catch me when I fall—not only there to, but wants to be there to catch me. In this state of becoming, we both are challenged to pursue each other. It looks like keeping our conversations real and curious, flirting just because, and being quick to admit when we’re wrong.

Takeaways: 

  • Marriage is a daily, active commitment to each other.
  • You have to pursue each other to have a worthwhile marriage.
  • Acknowledging you and your spouse’s humanity helps set realistic expectations.

Questions to ask each other:

  • How can we continue pursuing each other? What does that look like for us? (i.e., writing each other notes, texting each other during the day just because, planning a weekly date night, etc.)
  • Talk about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how you can be a team.
  • Do we have a plan to handle conflict/hard situations? If so, revisit it. If not, come up with one.

Bonus blogs to help you prepare for your first year of marriage:

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!