Posts

3 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently While I Was Engaged

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!

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!

This engagement season is something you’ve looked forward to. Being able to tell your family and friends that someone loves you so much that they want to spend their life by your side. In this season of excitement, planning begins and you ask each other questions about what you want your life together to look like. 

However, for some of you, this season is weathering you. You’re tired of your fiancé saying, “What’s the rush on getting married?” “Why do we need to pick a date for the wedding? Let’s take our time.” Or something along the lines of, “Can we just enjoy being engaged for a while?”

I understand how frustrating that can be. You’re ready to run with the momentum. You’re committed and you don’t feel the need to postpone the inevitable. 

If you feel like there’s something getting in the way of your fiancé wanting to continue forward, be a compassionate investigator and figure out why. 

One reason could be that you were planning to marry during the pandemic and have had to rethink your wedding. This planning shift can muddy the conversation because it is something that has been outside of your control. If you two aren’t wanting to do an intimate wedding and would rather keep your plans, choosing a new date is in order. However, that in itself can be stressful. There is uncertainty right now with the ever-changing guidelines from the CDC. Plus, you’re in the midst of navigating a new normal. You are not alone, though. You are with 64% of couples having to postpone due to COVID-19. What should encourage you is that only 4% of those have completely canceled the wedding according to Forbes

You have an opportunity to evaluate the next steps together. If you have been quarantining together and have been struggling to get along, take some time to evaluate what’s going on. Talk about what you two can do to fix the problems. Acknowledge that this could be a part of the hesitation to set a date. Here is a blog with questions to ask each other before coming out of quarantine.

Dig Deeper

If you know quarantine isn’t the culprit in the feet dragging to pick a date, here are some insights from relationship experts.

Psychologist Dr. Seth Myers is the author of Love Prescription, frequent blogger for Psychology Today and guest on “Good Morning America” and “The Early Show. ” He has spent years working with couples at his private practice in Los Angeles. Meyers suggests having a sit-down dinner with your fiancé with a calendar and notebook in hand and discuss the wedding. If you have an idea of when you want to be married by, lead with that. If your fiancé says that it’s too soon, ask why and provide solutions. 

For example, if finances are a concern, be willing to compromise. Suggest a smaller wedding that you two could afford given your present financial circumstances. If your fiancé says that finances aren’t the only thing keeping him/her from setting a date, pull out your notebook and say you’ll make a list of what needs to happen in order to move forward and start planning. Give him/her a reasonable timeline and be as flexible as possible.

Dr. Meyers says if your fiancé keeps making excuses as to why the goals cannot be accomplished and continues in the “What’s the rush to get married?” mindset, it may be an appropriate time to consider having a conversation about calling off the engagement.

Be careful of letting “buts” get in the way of what is best for you both. Author of How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk,” Dr. John Van Epp reminds us that it’s easy to make ourselves think that we have to stay in a relationship. He says that’s not true, though. Just because you’ve dated forever, live together, you don’t want to break their heart, and/or love their friends and family doesn’t mean you need to be together. It’s a tough call to make when you’re invested, but it’s necessary if it’s best for the both of you. 

Your feelings are valid, and what you’re going through others have experienced as well. At the end of the day, you are making a life-changing decision, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you want to continue to get to know your fiancé better and navigate this season in a way that gets you to a wedding date here are two blogs to help. One is on expectations and the other is on questions to ask before “I Do.”

Marriage is a beautiful thing when both people are all in. I hope that this helps guide you in what you need to do next.

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!

If you’re anything like me, I used to (literally) dream about the day that the love of my life would take a knee, spout off some poetry, and say those four long-awaited words that made up the question that would change my life forever: “Will you marry me?”

Read more

“I had no idea how much planning was involved in getting married,” remembers Amy Carter. “On top of surviving wedding planing, my fiancé and I were trying to sell my condo so I could move to Nashville. Fortunately, both of our families were very supportive of us as we planned for our big day. I was surprised how much my mother and I agreed on details of the wedding.”

Carter is lucky. Many couples preparing for their wedding day find themselves between a rock and a hard place by trying to please their parents, siblings, friends, grandparents and others who have an opinion on how the wedding should go. One bride’s mother refused to help because her daughter preferred a small and intimate wedding instead of a large formal affair.

Most experts agree that planning for a wedding is something most brides and their moms look forward to. Things can get a bit sticky, though. But don’t fear; there are some things you can do to help avert bitter feelings.

First and foremost, this is your day. Others may give their opinion about how things should go, but ultimately the bride and groom get to have the final say.

“We are probably different than most couples because we were more concerned about doing it the way that made us comfortable instead of being so concerned with stepping on toes,” says Rebecca Smith. “We set the rules early.

“There were certain things that I really didn’t care about, like the flowers. When my mom asked me what I wanted, I told her whatever she picked out would be fine. For us the overriding theme was we are incredibly excited about being married. We don’t want our focus on the wedding to be more than our focus on our marriage.”

At some point during the planning process, Rebecca and her fiancé acknowledged that something could go wrong. They eventually realized it really didn’t matter because they would still be married. They didn’t pursue a perfect production.

According to the experts, the Smiths would get an “A” in wedding planning.

Here are some additional tips to help you survive wedding planning:

  • Decide what matters most to you. You can’t give 100 percent of your attention to everything, so decide where you want to focus and delegate the other things. This is a great way to involve family members without feeling like they are trying to control your day.
  • Decide on a realistic budget. Although the average wedding today costs between $20,000 – $25,000, couples can have a beautiful wedding for significantly less money. Since money is the top area of conflict for couples, one way to begin your marriage well is to be realistic about your finances. Know what you and your family can comfortably afford. The amount of money spent is not a determining factor in the success of your marriage.
  • Plan for your marriage. It is easy to get so caught up in your wedding planning that you neglect to plan for your marriage – all those days after the wedding. Take time out to attend premarital education classes or a marriage seminar. Read a good book together, like Fighting for Your Marriage: A Deluxe Revised Edition of the Classic Best-seller for Enhancing Marriage and Preventing Divorce or Before “I Do”: Preparing for the Full Marriage ExperienceYour marriage will be stronger if go into it with your eyes wide open.
  • Enjoy this time. Even though the preparation may be a bit stressful, schedule your time so you can truly enjoy these special moments. For many, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Instead of looking back at a whirlwind of activity that you really don’t remember, take non-essential things off the calendar. Rest adequately, eat well and don’t let others steal your joy.

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!

Prepare for Marriage, Not Just the Wedding

Plan ahead for a strong relationship after the big day.

Looking for ways to strengthen your marriage before it starts? Try these tips to help you prepare for life after the wedding day.

First, attend a premarital education class or premarital counseling. Eighty-nine percent of married couples who attended premarital education BEFORE marriage found it to be helpful down the road. Worthwhile classes will teach you communication skills and conflict management tools, along with addressing appropriate expectations.

Find a mentor couple. Seek out an older, more experienced, happily married couple to provide wisdom and support to you as you begin your adventure together.

Start thinking “We” instead of “Me.” Marriage is a partnership. It will serve you well to remember you are on the same team. Make time to pursue activities together and explore common interests.

Talk about your expectations for marriage. What are your goals for your marriage? How will you decide who does what around the house? Who will manage the money? Discuss your goals to help ensure a successful marriage. Unrealistic and unmet expectations often lead to resentment.

Be committed. Since commitment is a choice, believing in the permanence of your marriage will actually help your relationship as you prepare for marriage, and over the long haul.

Talk about money. Save yourselves a lot of future headaches by discussing your spending habits and spending plans and goals. Always spend less than you make, save a little for a rainy day, and try to avoid debt.

Talk about children. Will you have children? If so, how many children would you like to have? When would you like to have kids? Will both of you work or will one of you stay home?

How will work/friends/family/social activities affect your marriage? Also, discuss boundaries for your marriage.

 

Check out FTF’s Feature Article on

 

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!

When you dreamed about your wedding experience, did you ever think so many people would participate in the process? 

Your mother is hurt because you aren’t wearing her wedding dress. The maid-of-honor has forgotten it is your wedding – not hers. Your fiance’s family thinks the wedding plans are too formal. How will you choose two flower girls when you have six cousins who are the right age?

“These are the landmines that often hit brides out of left field,” says Elizabeth Thomas, co-founder of The First Dance.“After planning our wedding and finding out the hard way that lots of people had strong feelings about certain aspects of ‘our’ day, I wondered if there were other brides out there feeling the same way. I found out there were tons of them. My father and I decided to build this website to help engaged couples manage the people stress of wedding planning and have more wisdom to carry over to their marriage.”

Checklists can’t predict which wedding tasks or people in your life have an emotion, opinion, or stake in how to complete a task.

To make matters worse, sometimes the person with the emotion or opinion doesn’t even know it until it’s already final or it’s too late. Thomas discovered this when her wedding invitations arrived.

“I was so excited!” Thomas says. “I went into the living room to show my dad. Keep in mind that up to this point he had not seen nor expressed any interest in the invitations. He took one look at the wedding invitation and panicked! He started moving from room to room, but no matter what lighting he was in they were too difficult to read. They were unique invitations with red ink on red paper, orange ink on orange paper and yellow ink on yellow paper. We have a ton of middle-aged and older guests who will have similar eyesight to my father. Reprinting the invitations was out of the question. Needless to say, it was an emotional moment!”

Ask any bride what they are experiencing.

You’ll find that underneath the “it’s my day, my way” mentality is the desire to have a joyous wedding planning experience. Nobody enjoys making their mom angry, stressing their dad about invitations or frustrating their groom. Some brides stress so much trying to maintain their ground that they just give up and let someone else have the final say.

After surviving her own wedding, Thomas believes that couples can intentionally make the wedding planning experience pleasant for everyone involved.

Here are a few ways to make that happen:

To the bride: Over-communicate about wedding plans that involve your groom. Whether you two agree that he’ll do a few tasks or you want his opinion on something, if he has no clue then he will have no idea what the decision is about. He needs to know who is impacted by it, the work involved and the timing of the task. Huge breakdowns happen when grooms are not given specifics around tasks. Then, the bride invariably believes he doesn’t care or is not being supportive enough.

To the parents: Keep your cool when others lose theirs. It’s not your wedding, but you do have a stake in it. Don’t be passive or pushy, but recognize that this is about more than money. It’s about emotion, relationships, loyalty, obligation, influence, control and competition. Money should not trump relationships. Don’t use it to blackmail, threaten, or manipulate – or you will pay a big price.

Know your role in decisions. There are three general roles:

  • enthusiast
  • adviser
  • partner

Roles will vary issue by issue and family by family, but should be as clear as possible to avoid problems. Sometimes clarity only comes after a disagreement or conflict.

“I think the best wedding day is when the people you care about most feel loved, heard and valued,” Thomas says. “Every wedding checklist item is ultimately about your values, communicating those values with your spouse and about, well, married life!

“Weddings, like marriage, involve hundreds of routine decisions, big and small. They involve small and large sums of money, and require a lot of work. The outcome of the planning and wedding day itself will stay with you and your loved ones forever. It can change your relationships for better or worse and set the stage for how you go through life in the future.”

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!

A friend’s Facebook post that said expensive wedding rings lead to less marriage stability caught Randal Olson’s eye.

“My girlfriend and I had recently talked about wedding rings,” says Olson. “She said she did not want a big wedding ring. After reading the study, I was thankful. I am one semester away from graduating with a doctorate in computer science. My focus is on research so I don’t take things at face value. As I read the study (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration), I ran across this huge table of many different factors that play a role in long-term marriage.”

Some of the findings make perfect sense to Olson, such as:

  • Couples who date three years or more before their engagement are 39 percent less likely to divorce.
  • The more money you and your spouse make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce.
  • Couples who never go assemble for religious reason are two times more likely to divorce than regular attenders.

Other findings, however, took Olson by surprise.

“I was pretty shocked to see that the number of people who attend your wedding actually has a huge impact on long-term marital stability,” Olson says. “Couples who elope are 12.5 times more likely to divorce than couples who get married at a wedding with 200 plus people. The more I thought about this, the more it actually made sense. Having a large group of family and friends who are supportive of your marriage is vitally important to the long-term stability of your marriage.”

These findings surprised Olson, too:

  • There is a relationship between how much people spent on their wedding and their likelihood of divorcing. The findings suggest that perhaps the financial burden incurred by a lavish wedding leads to financial stress for the couple. Women who spent $20,000 or more on their wedding were 3.5 times more likely to divorce than their counterparts who spent less than half that.
  • The honeymoon matters! Couples who went on a honeymoon were 41 percent less likely to divorce.
  • A big difference in educational levels could lead to a higher hazard of divorce.
  • If looks and wealth are an important factor in your decision to marry a person, you are more likely to divorce down the road.

“Some of my friends read these findings and commented that they were in the bad categories. They asked me if their marriage was doomed,” Olson says. “The answer to that is no, but according to this research, statistically they are more likely to run into challenges. I believe the biggest takeaway for someone considering marriage like myself, is this isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts. However, this was a very large study and the findings are worthy of consideration to help couples have a more stable marriage.”

“I think planning is the key,” he shares. “It takes a lot of work to plan a wedding. Put that same amount of effort into planning for your marriage.

“I do” feels complicated. What can you learn from a focus group of millennial women who live with their boyfriends? You can really find out about their relationships, their thoughts about marriage and how they think cohabitation differs from marriage.

Only one of the six women had ever married. Some had children with their current boyfriend. Others brought children into the relationship. They discussed the following questions, and more.

Do you believe living together and marriage are pretty much the same thing?

Most of the women agreed that living together and marriage were practically the same thing. They said it really boiled down to commitment to the relationship. And, they wondered why someone needs a piece of paper to prove their commitment to each other.

They also wondered if they could make a marriage work. For instance, only one of the women came from an intact family. She said everyone in her family had been successful at marriage so far except her.

Are there any ways that marriage is different from living together?

Regarding the differences in cohabitation and marriage, they discussed missing benefits because they weren’t legally married, even though they thought of themselves as married. They also said people treated them differently when they discovered they were unmarried.

The National Center for Family and Marriage Research indicates that 41 percent of cohabitors express pessimism about marriage. More than half (64 percent) of Gen-Xers and millennials agree that living together before marriage may help prevent divorce. 

Interestingly, only about 35 percent of individuals who married first believe that cohabitation may help prevent breakups.

If your boyfriend asked you to marry him, would you?

Surprisingly, all but one woman enthusiastically said yes, despite saying they believed there was really no difference in cohabitation and marriage.

While these women and many like them believe living together and marriage are basically the same, consider these statistics:

  • The overall rate of violence for cohabiting couples is twice as high as for married couples. Plus, the overall rate for “severe” violence is nearly five times as high, according to the Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire, the nation’s leading institution studying domestic violence.
  • Studies conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that women in cohabiting relationships had depression rates nearly five times higher than married women. Those rates second only to women who twice-divorced.
  • Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times more likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri data published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Most of the women in the focus group said they want to avoid the pain of divorce. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that relationship dynamics without relationship structure increases that risk.

If you’re in a serious relationship and wonder if you should take your relationship to the next level, think carefully. Instead of moving in together, consider taking a class that will help you know if you have learned all of the different skills that can help your relationship last a lifetime.

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!