Knowing these things can help you enjoy your engagement season.
Being engaged is like being in limbo. You’re excited to be engaged but more excited to be married. It’s a season of anticipation and possibly a lot of frustration if you aren’t careful.
My husband Tyler and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I can confidently say that being married is way better than being engaged. As we reflected on our first year of marriage, we also talked about the time leading up to the wedding. We also discussed what we would’ve done differently during our engagement.
Do yourself a favor, and consider some of these tips so that you can enjoy more and be annoyed less.
1. Set Strong Boundaries ASAP
You’ll be surprised who comes out of the woodwork once you’re engaged. People you haven’t talked to in years ask when and where the wedding is (fishing for an invite). Relatives say “we’ve waited so long for this” (like they also got engaged). Plus, family members have a list of questions a few hours after a ring is on it (wanting to take control and get the ball rolling.)
Before you start trying to answer all of the questions rolling in, have an intentional conversation with your fiancé. Decide together what you’re going to say to the random friends in your DMs, to the distant relatives, and most importantly, the role you want your parents to play.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to delegate some of the tedious legwork to your parents or go-getter friends (bridesmaids, groomsmen) on the front end. This will give you time to think about the questions that will follow. (All the while, you still get to make them feel important and a part of what’s happening!) For example, ask your parents to start making a list of who all they think needs to be at the wedding. Of course, mention you and your fiancé have the final say, but I would really appreciate their help.
One important boundary to set for yourself is permission to say no, I don’t know, and I’m not ready for that yet. If you don’t want the help, don’t have the answer, or aren’t at that place in the planning yet, then speak up about it. You don’t have to decide on the spot to appease someone.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
Tyler and I had opposite shifts at our jobs and didn’t live together before we got married. I would go in to work as he would get home from work. Unfortunately, this left very few times (normally once a week) that we could see each other during our six-month engagement. When we did see each other, wedding planning dominated our time. We didn’t get to enjoy being engaged as much as we wanted to because we prioritized work and sleep, which hear me out, I recognize is super important. However, some sleepy workdays would’ve made a world of a difference. If a day full of yawns here and there meant we got to hang out and just do life together rather than only plan a future life together, I think our relationship quality would’ve been better. We both do.
When you’re engaged, if you’re not living together already, you are ready to. That’s a part of the excitement about getting married! So we fought against the nature of what we wanted and felt like we needed by not squeezing in more time to date each other. Plus, when you are only answering questions from family, friends, vendors, etc., it’s easy to get overwhelmed and be short with each other. I promise you won’t regret setting aside time. I suggest that you spend time together at least once a week (whether it’s in person or over FaceTime). Here’s the catch though—like a game of Taboo, you can’t bring up the wedding!
3. Have A Couples’ Shower Or Party with Close Friends
Brides get a lot of the attention during this season and on the wedding day itself. I’m not saying I didn’t love it. Looking back though, I wish I had made celebrating my man just as much a priority. At the time, he so didn’t mind. Tyler is humble and never wants to be the center of attention. In fact, it was a win-win to him that someone could throw me a bridal shower and he could get all of the gifts without the small talk.
We also thought the rehearsal dinner would be the perfect time for everyone to celebrate us together. However, we recently decided that as perfect as our rehearsal dinner was, it was hard to talk to everyone! And, we loved being celebrated together. Looking at each other from across the room and talking to our friends and family as a couple was so sweet. We’d had a taste and wanted more!!
If you have a lot of friends that live near you, I would consider doing a local Couples’ Shower, pre-wedding party, or whatever you want to call it! Embrace the joys of the engagement together.
If we had been better about those three things, we could’ve really enjoyed our engagement season for all that it was. Congratulations on your engagement!
I hope your engagement season has minimal stress and maximum joy!
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Make sure you're on the same page before the big day.
Being engaged is a season of anticipation! You feel all kinds of excitement, right? You can’t wait! Before the wedding arrives, that and the honeymoon are all you can think about! (Plus, you can’t wait for all those wedding questions to stop!)
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Considering these things can help you make a choice that's good for you.
Am I ready to be married… to this guy?
Should I take the next step of marriage with her?
Am I sure? Is he ready?
We get along well, but his career isn’t off the ground yet.
She and I have so much fun together. But she isn’t sure if she wants to live in the city or the suburbs.
I believe that I want to spend the rest of my life with him. But the rest of my life may be a long time.
How can I make the perfect decision at the perfect time about the perfect person so that I may have a perfect life?
I get it. Deciding to get engaged or not is huge.
No, it’s not marriage, but it’s a major (and I mean major) step in that direction. Often, there’s a ring, engagement parties, questions about a timeline, etc. The news is blasted on social media. Everyone is celebrating that THE RIGHT PERSON has been found.
And after all that, other things follow… questions, judgments, self-doubts, uncertainty, and the risk of humiliation and failure.
Questions like, “What if I’m not ready? What if I don’t know my partner well enough? What if there’s still more within me that I need to work out?”
These are all valid questions! But I’m not sure they’re the only questions you’ll want to be asking.
Approaching engagement and marriage from the perspective of making the right choice RISK-FREE may set you up for disappointment. And trying to check all the boxes on your never-ending personal and relational checklist might leave you marriage-less.
There’s no exhaustive list to foolproof your engagement decision. But as a married man who’s also a premarital education facilitator/coach, I can offer you some things to think about…
Consider these things:
Do you feel genuinely safe with this person?
Can you be your whole emotional, spiritual, psychological, and physical self with them? Are you able to be vulnerable? Or do you hold back because you’re not sure how they’ll react? Does your prospective spouse walk with you through your emotions to help you grow as an individual? Are you a better person because of this relationship?
Is this someone you want to learn how to do life with?
Notice, I didn’t ask if this is someone you can do life with. Is he or she bringing a healthy version of themselves into the relationship? If so, you’re both more likely to learn how to navigate through all life’s ups, downs, successes and failures. You have no idea what the future holds. But while you’re dating, you can see how your prospective spouse handles life’s challenges. Is selfishness an issue? Do you value one another’s thoughts, feelings and wants? How do you handle the unexpected as a couple?
Are we both ready to help one another be our best selves?
If you’re looking for marriage to complete you, then once again, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But if you love this person so much that you want to bring all of yourself into a marriage to love, support, and encourage them, then you may be in a good place. Are you ready for THAT? Are you secure enough to not lose yourself in that journey?
Don’t try to find these answers alone.
Talk to healthy married couples and close family. Discuss these things with your best friends and with the one you’re thinking about getting engaged to. Don’t necessarily look to them for answers. Instead, let them help you talk through your thoughts, fears, and emotions.
There’s nothing wrong with premarital education BEFORE GETTING ENGAGED.
I know many who appreciated doing marriage prep before they made a decision. It prevented a lot of embarrassment from calling off an engagement after realizing that this wasn’t the person they wanted to marry. No rule says you can’t have these conversations before getting engaged. And if you have these conversations before you take that next big step, you’re more likely to enjoy the journey and be at peace with your decisions.
Looking for more engagement resources? Click here!
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Don't let the idea of being alone make you ignore red flags.
Dating. Is. Hard. There’s no way around it. On the bright side, you meet a variety of people. You learn more about yourself and have some good (and often laughable), awkward stories. So, when you find yourself thinking about forever with that very special someone, it may be tempting to trudge forward with emotions and skip the inner-reflective monologue. But, there is one question every dating person should ask themselves: “Do I really want to marry this person, or do I just want to be married?”
Before you start psychoanalyzing every nook and cranny of your current relationship, be aware that it will take time to answer this question. Let’s talk it through a bit.
The desire to marry often comes from an overarching desire for companionship. We all know life can be pretty heavy due to bills, stress, family issues, health concerns, career disappointments, etc. There are some nights that bar-hopping, movie-binging, or venting to a listening ear just doesn’t sweeten the bitterness of life. Marriage can look like a really good, long-term way to have a sturdy hand to hold from day to day. And even though you may not see eye-to-eye on your faith, finances, priorities, or the hopes and dreams you have for your future family, marriage may appear better than the alternative… being alone FOREVER.
The desire to marrycan create a monster. This monster will give you blinders. It will allow you to look past the red flags and all you thought you would never settle for.
This post shouldn’t negate marriage. I think marriage is a wonderful thing. It’s supposed to be a sense of support, security and unconditional love. But a successful marriage requires a lot of work on the front end. You need patience and discernment so that you can find a person who inspires you, cares for you and truly helps you be even more like yourself.
When you can look at your relationship and see how it benefits both people, you’re probably on the right track. And, maybe you really do want to marry this person.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/andre-hunter-236597-unsplash.jpg11212048Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2018-03-29 13:19:572022-05-10 13:45:24Do I Really Want To Marry This Person?