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When you marry the love of your life, they bring so many different things to the table for the two of you to share. Their personality, adoration for you, commitment, maybe some furniture or experience with things you don’t know how to do. And don’t get me wrong—this sounds lovely (and it is…) until one of the things they bring to the table are in-laws. If you’re honest, it’s possible you aren’t crazy about your future in-laws, to put it politely. In fact, you’ve decided what you want to bring to the table in your relationship is an extra table 😡 … one that doesn’t always have seats for the future in-laws… but that’s not really the solution. (And don’t assume that your fiancé doesn’t have any issues with YOUR parents.)

It’s okay to not be fond of your fiancé’s parents, but you also have to be okay with them being a part of your lives in some capacity. You can’t marry your fiancé without also understanding you are essentially marrying into their family. So let’s put together a game plan so when the visits begin, you won’t be nervous to pull up a chair to the table!

What to Do When You Aren’t Crazy About Your Future In-Laws:

1. Talk about your concern with your fiancé.

If it hasn’t come up already, be honest with your fiancé about your concerns and why you feel they’re important. Also, consider the possibility of your fiancé not being crazy about your parents either! Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they interfering with your relationship?
  • Do they say things that hurt your feelings or rub you the wrong way? 
  • Is it that you don’t like them or don’t get along with them?
  • Do they point out every little thing you do differently or “wrong?”

The least you can do is invite an honest conversation to try and clear up any potential misunderstandings. If you’ve never really gotten along with your fiancé’s parents, ask your fiancé to talk to them on your behalf. Try to get to the bottom of what they’re feeling or what could be misinterpreted. Perception is reality until you get a different perspective. This would be a great place to start before any serious decisions of how to allocate your time are made. 

✦ The two of you will form your own family once you’re married and you have to make decisions based on what’s best for your family (the two of you) before anyone else. When you’ve decided what to do for the holidays, for drop-ins, like calling before, use “we” statements and each of you should tell your own set of parents. In doing so, you protect your future spouse from getting thrown under the bus or having your parents put blame on your new spouse!

2. Set Boundaries Early-On.

If you know your in-laws have a knack for being overbearing, giving unsolicited advice, criticizing things you two enjoy, and even guilt trips you by saying things like, “If you lived closer we could have dinner more,” or “It’s a shame you don’t have enough time for us.” Prepare yourselves and have a plan in place. This is why the first step is to talk about your concerns with your fiancé, to get it all out there so making a plan will be easier! 

You don’t have to live in the Anticipation Zone; you have an opportunity to decide with your future spouse what the relationship with your future in-laws will look like and entail. The two of you need to talk about what the relationship expectations are for them, what you want the relationship to look like, and then work toward meeting a compromise. For example, calling before you/they stop by. Or, it could go from seeing them weekly to calling weekly and having a meal together once a month. You could trade off holidays, family vacations, or maybe decide to just see them a few times a year and send cards. 

However you decide to make it work, decide that’s how it’ll be for now, but leave room for the relationship to change. It’s possible in the future you’ll want (or be okay with) more or less time together. The last thing you want is extra stress, drama, or tension in your marriage because of your in-laws. The two of you need to come together and figure out the best way to have the least drama and tension.

Here are some great topics to get the conversation going:

  • How much time will you spend with them?
  • Topics that are off limits for discussion.
  • How you allow (or won’t allow) their behavior to impact you.
  • How do you honestly feel about my parents?

3. Location, location, location.

If you both know your future in-laws are the type to drop by, overstay their welcome, or cross boundaries like finish lines, then it may be a sign to move somewhere that makes it less of a possibility. Travel time is a great buffer. Normally, if you live further away, you have to make a plan before you see each other. This is great news because it gives you the space to prepare mentally and physically for a visit. Plus, it’s much easier to suggest coming for just a weekend every so often than feeling the pressure if you live nearby to have weekly meals. (This could be difficult because of work or school situations, but it is something to keep in mind. Downside: Less free babysitting for date nights.)

At the end of the day, you and your soon-to-be spouse will come to a compromise, and compromises sometimes include sacrifices. On the big day, you’re committing your life to them, for better or for worse, and promising to make it work. And making it work takes work! But it’s worth it when the love of your life encourages you, pushes you toward your best self, helps you realize your dreams, and has committed the same things as you. You’re about to be your own family!! Good luck, and I hope you both find the balance that works best for your relationship.

Other Blogs You May Find Helpful:

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!

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!)

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!

If you want your best self to show up on your best day ever, practicing self-care while planning your wedding should be at the top of your to-do list. Planning a day that is ultimately about 8 hours but signifies a lifelong commitment can be stressful, I’ll be the first to admit it, having planned my own wedding. Stress can take a toll on a person and affect your relationship with your soon-to-be spouse, so to get your marriage off on the right foot, let’s get you taken care of!

4 Ways to Practice Self-Care While Planning a Wedding:

1. Set aside a day when you don’t wedding plan.

It’s important that the engagement season doesn’t drain all of your attention. You and your fiancé need to spend quality time with each other. You’re getting married because you’ve fallen in love and see a life together. The energy you felt while dating can continue into engagement season and throughout your marriage if you prioritize your relationship first—I mean it is what your wedding day is celebrating after all! Here’s a great blog with simple ideas to spend quality time together during the wedding season.

2. Delegate tasks.

I know this is a hard one—especially because you know the vision in your head and making the list of everything that needs to get done sounds just as scary as doing them. BUT if you make a list, I can almost guarantee you’ll find there are little things some of your wedding party or family can help with. Delegating some of the more mundane time-suckers would allow you to pencil in some self-care. Things like: collecting addresses, addressing envelopes, designing the wedding program, calling floral shops for pricing, etc. 

3. Cut yourself some slack and take it one day at a time.

Try not to be so hard on yourself or your fiancé. With the stress of planning a perfect day, a bump in the road can sneak its way into looking like a mountain. There will be things that don’t go as planned, have to be re-thought or rearranged, and that’s just a part of the process! Don’t take on the stress of planning the wedding as a whole—only take on the next task.

Making a list not only helps you delegate but it can help you navigate what needs to be done. Give yourself a timeline with your to-do list and only look at what’s next on the list after you check something off. Wedding planning can be overwhelming, but when you give yourself the chance to take it one task at a time rather than planning the whole thing at once, you’ll feel better. (Let’s be honest, checking things off a list feels good—so make it lots of little checks!)

4. Focus on your overall health.

A great self-care practice is being mindful of your body. Check-in with yourself:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • How’s my mental health?
  • Am I expressing my feelings?
  • Am I…
    • Nourishing my body?
    • Drinking enough water?
    • Being present when I’m with my fiancé?
    • Being active or exercising in some way?

It can be tempting to go on an extreme diet or compromise sleep in the name of getting everything done, but it’s not worth it. When you get married, you’re stepping into a different lifestyle and both of you will bring different elements. If you want a healthy lifestyle, it’ll be much easier to bring something to the table you’re already in a habit of and enjoy rather than being so excited for the wedding to be over so you can stop whatever draining regimen you’re doing beforehand. Be mindful and take care of you. You want to show up feeling better than ever on your big day, so be kind to yourself and make it happen.

Before you buy into “there’s not enough time in the day” or that you have to lose sleep while wedding planning, buy into yourself. If you prioritize yourself—you know half of the reason why this day is even happening, then you’ll get to really enjoy the process during this crazy and exciting season!

Other blogs that may be helpful for you!

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!

You’re in love, you’re engaged, and you don’t want the butterflies you’ve had all this time to fly away. I mean who would? But sometimes, in the midst of wedding planning and preparing for marriage, you can forget to do the very thing that brought you to this relationship milestone: Date! And that’s what this blog is all about: dates every engaged couple needs to do before the big day!

You’ve probably heard it before and you will likely hear it again when you get married: date your spouse. The romance and wonder for each other doesn’t magically sustain itself; it needs fuel and your attention.

Dating can be extremely beneficial toward keeping romance alive, and making a practice of going on regular dates can be a great way to jump-start that habit,” says Denise Limongello, a licensed psychotherapist based in Manhattan. In an article by The Knot, Limongello points out that lack of romance is a common reason for breakups or divorce.

If you want to make a habit of something, you have to go out of your way and make time for it. A habit you’ll want in your marriage is dating each other, so while you’re preparing for marriage let’s jump-start this habit!

Dates Every Engaged Couple Must Do Before the Big Day:

1. Try a restaurant you’ve never been to before.

It’s easy to get comfortable with doing the same things over and over. It’s great to have your favorite spots, but oftentimes just switching up the location to a place you’ve never been will prompt fresh conversation. When you get married, it can become tempting to fall into a routine and not challenge it. Routines are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. However, it can be problematic when your routine becomes “going through the motions.” When you don’t even have to think about doing or saying something, life can feel monotonous. A simple way to practice getting uncomfortable, if you will, is trying something new!

2. Couple’s Massage.

There’s a lot of stress when it comes to wedding planning. Everything seems faster paced, small decisions have bigger implications, family and friends ask questions you don’t know the answers to and let’s face it—that can cause tension. Maybe the tension is physical, or maybe it’s between you and your fiancé. Whether you book a couple’s massage (Groupon always has a deal going!) or set-up a spa-like shop at one of your places and give each other a massage, taking the time to decompress and slow down together can do you some good. Release the tension, rest and relax. Trust me—you need it.

3. Quality time date.

Engagement season: when suddenly everyone needs your attention or wants to be best friends again. No wonder it’s easy to get distracted. All of the planning and excitement seems to creep in to every conversation and fill your phone with notifications. On top of that, anyone else guilty of sitting beside your significant other (for a time longer than you care to admit) on your phones without having so much as a full conversation?

To keep this from happening, this date has two rules:

1. Turn the phones off and turn your attention toward each other, and 2. Don’t talk about wedding details. 

What you do/how you spend this date is up to you. I suggest whatever it is, you give yourselves the opportunity for great conversation (so maybe not a movie night). You could picnic, make dinner together and set the table fancy, go on a hike or bike ride or to your favorite ice cream place. Whatever you decide, make your time together quality time.

4. Sing karaoke.

I know, I know. Not everyone’s cup of tea. BUT hear me out. You can do it in the comfort of your own home or if you’re feeling up to it, grace some strangers with your voice. The point of this date is to teach or remind you of some of the most important lessons that are essential to a happy marriage: Don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh at yourself and together …often. What better way to humble yourself than trying to reach a note Mariah Carrey invented?!

There is growing evidence to suggest that one of the secrets to a long and happy relationship is to laugh together often,” according to an article by Conscious Rethink. There’s going to be some truly difficult times in your marriage and circumstances that will be out of your control. In those serious moments, if you haven’t practiced taking yourself less seriously when nothing hard was happening, it could be much more difficult to switch gears and be positive under pressure. So pick your favorite song and get to singing!

5. Plan a date night surprise.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of someone who intimately knows you choosing a curated experience for you both. The time it takes to think about what you want to do shows your fiancé they are worth your time, energy and effort. Then the date itself is a gift. It’s a win-win! You could set up a little fort in your living room with tea lights, favorite snacks and a movie queued up. You could blindfold them and drive to a destination—could be a historic site with a picnic packed if they’re a history buff, or maybe a drive-in movie and the back of your car is already equipped for ultimate coziness with blankets and pillows. Or perhaps you move the furniture out of the way and have a dance tutorial pulled up and a glass of wine poured. 

You don’t need a birthday, anniversary, or holiday as a reason to surprise the love of your life. Loving them is reason enough. Taking this date into your marriage is a sure fire way to keep the romance aflame. 

Dating before “I do” is a great way to prepare yourself for the lifelong pursuit of each other. Keep it interesting, try new things, carve out time to be solely with each other—even if it’s not much! You’ll thank yourselves for it later.

If you need help figuring out a creative date night, we have tons of free virtual and DIY date night ideas here!

Additional Blogs You May Like: 

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!

Image from Pexels.com

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!

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:

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!

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 getting ready to be married. 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. But when everyone started giving us advice, it was overwhelming.

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

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!

Image from Unsplash.com

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.

It’s 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:

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!

Image from Unsplash.com