There were a lot of things people didn’t warn me about prior to getting engaged, such as how being engaged doesn’t look anything like it does on social media. I think it’s too easy to get caught up in this idea that the season of engagement is supposed to be purely blissful and filled with photos, presents, and romance. For the benefit of those who are currently engaged or going to someday be engaged, I’ve put together a list of things that I have learned over the past four months on what planning a wedding, preparing for a marriage, and being engaged is really like.
. . . . .
Eighteen Things No One Told Me About Being Engaged
1. You will feel somewhat guilty for every decision you make pertaining to your wedding when your parents’ money is involved.
Very few of us have the privilege of coming from a well-off family that has thirty grand to spend on their daughter’s special day. I am not one of those few. My mom gave me a budget and at first, her number sounded too high. As time is passing by, however, I’m realizing that it’s pretty difficult, if not nearly impossible, to have your dream wedding without costing your mom and dad a couple (and by couple, I mean TEN) of thousands of dollars.
2. You will wonder if your flaws and weaknesses will end up being the downfall of your marriage.
If you knew you had faults before, you will certainly realize the gravity of them when you get engaged. All of a sudden, you’ll realize that someone is COMMITTING THEIR LIFE TO YOUR CRAZY, MESSED-UP SELF. And you’ll wonder if you’ll be the one to ruin it all. As a result, you will go into self-improvement overdrive. When that doesn’t work, you’ll think that maybe you should just do them a favor and break the whole thing off.
3. You will wonder if YOUR PARTNER’S flaws and weaknesses will end up being the downfall of your marriage.
If you thought you were critical before, then you haven’t seen nothing yet. There’s something about the idea of “wow, I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this person” that sends you into obsessive, crazy mode. You will nitpick every single thing they do, and become familiar with the phrase, “you better not do that when we’re married.” When fixing your partner’s problems doesn’t work, you may even think that you should just do yourself a favor and break the whole thing off.
4. You will mentally size up anyone and everyone’s engagement/wedding rings.
No matter how breathtakingly beautiful your ring is, there will be someone whose diamond is brighter and whose band is more intricate. And even though you’ll claim that you don’t care about the size of your diamond and you think your ring is perfect, you will start to wonder if people are judging you based off of yours just like you’re judging them. But of course you won’t vocalize these thoughts because 1) you would break the heart of the man who spent all that money on it, and 2) who wants to be that woman who isn’t satisfied with the ring she is supposedly in love with? By the way, having these thoughts, I’ve realized, is not dissatisfaction. It’s insecurity. There is a difference.
5. You will feel like you’re already married, which only makes things more difficult.
I’m going to be frank with you: there’s nothing worse than having to say goodnight and retreat to separate beds when you know that in just a couple of months you’ll be in the same bed every night. When you get engaged, sleeping with the love of your life (and no, I do not just mean sexually) is no longer just a dream or fantasy to you; it’s soon-to-be reality. But just because it WILL be true doesn’t mean it is just yet. And waking up to that fact isn’t fun at all. You will not only hate climbing into bed alone, but you will even hate brushing your teeth, cooking breakfast, and going grocery shopping alone. You will be so fixated on the future in which you and your partner will finally be in the same home that you will begin to loathe your separate lives. AND NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT THIS. Maybe people danced around it and said things to me like, “oh, you will want a short engagement.” BUT I THOUGHT THEY WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT SEX AND NOW I KNOW IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT AND IT SUCKS.
6. You will secretly (or vocally) loathe purchases that your partner makes with his money.
Because soon his money will become your money. And there’s no way you want to see all of your money going towards comic books, iTunes, and computer speakers. You want that money to go towards the nail salon instead. Did I mention that you’ll discover your fiancé’s abhorrence of credit cards is an actual PHOBIA that he will USE AGAINST YOU EVERY TIME HE SEES THOSE STUPID CARDS IN YOUR WALLET??? Just don’t get them if you think they might be an issue, folks. Dave Ramsay was right; money fights are real.
7. You will realize that you no longer like some of your ideas of being a thrifty bride.
Like when you look at wedding dresses in thrift stores and on Craigslist. Buying someone’s used wedding dress might be pragmatic, but it certainly is not all that romantic. The first time you try on a brand new wedding dress in an actual wedding dress store, you most likely won’t check another thrift store or Craigslist post again. You will also realize that just having a chili bar at your wedding, though cute for the Fall season, is not going to fill the stomachs of your family members and friends who drove eight hours or stood in line at an airport to see you get married.
8. People will make you feel like all you are is a bride.
Never-mind the fact that you have a ministry and personal goals and school and a blog. When people see you, the first thing they’ll talk to you about is the fact that you’re getting married… and then the conversation will end.
9. You will find the perfect wedding dress, purchase it, take it home, and then spend the rest of the time leading up to the wedding thinking about whether you should return it.
Is it really the most flattering one? Are you sure it doesn’t make my waist too large? But is it too fancy? Too big? Too plain? You will begin to doubt everything about that dress sitting in your closet, even though you felt like a beautiful princess when you first tried it on and all of your family members cried when they saw you in it. FOMO (or the Fear of Missing Out) will take over in ways you never realized it could.
10. You will realize who your real cheerleaders are.
You will find out whether or not your parents are really all that fond of your significant other. If they actually are (and thank God this is the case for me), they will shower you with more love than you ever anticipated. You’ll begin to freak out and think that maybe they just want to get rid of you. Why else would they be throwing so much money, advice, and free furniture at you? It might be shocking to see just how supportive your family is (and if they’re not, it could be equally as shocking to see just how indifferent or insensitive they are). You will also begin to realize which of your friends are cheering you on and which ones could care less as long as they get a seat on your big day.
11. You will accidentally turn into a Brideszilla in front of your fiancé.
Your fiancé will pretend to know what they’re talking about when it comes to wedding planning, and this will only piss you off. You will start to rant about how hard you’re working to make this day perfect while all he does is ask stupid questions and make dumb suggestions. “NO. JUST NO. STOP IT. I TOLD YOU LAST WEEK THE COLORS ARE CORAL AND NAVY. DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ANYTHING I SAY?!” will actually come out of your mouth in a very loud decibel. You won’t realize just how obsessive you are until it’s your wedding day on the line.
12. People will assume they are invited to the wedding when they actually aren’t.
I’ve never seen this happen in movies and I’ve never heard anyone tell me that this has occurred with them, but trust me — it happens. All of a sudden, the people you haven’t talked to since high school start commenting on your photos and asking questions about when they’re getting an invite to the wedding. This is highly uncomfortable, and besides just pretending I didn’t see these comments, I haven’t figured out a polite way to handle them so far.
13. You will fear coming across as narcissistic or self-centered when you talk about getting married on any form of social media.
You’re excited and kind of want to brag! Not in an “OOO, LOOK AT ME” kind of way, but in a “wow, can you believe that this guy picked me and we get to have a future together?” kind of way. Even though you will see many forms of “spotlight” statuses on Facebook (i.e. getting a new job or making the Dean’s List), you will become paranoid that everyone hates everything you post on social media relating to relationships, love, being engaged, or marriage. You know that saying, “you hate me cuz you ain’t me?” You will think this is actually relevant to you now. You will also think that you being engaged and posting about it is the only reason people are unfollowing you on Instagram.
14. You will consider running away and eloping just to spare yourself from any more wedding stress, not to mention the torture of the wait.
As time goes on, you get more and more fed up with all of these decisions you’re having to make and all of these months you’re having to wait. Who cares about guest lists and catering menus? You’re just ready to seal the deal and get on with it! Let’s elope and just start our lives together NOW! Grandma will forgive us, you frantically tell your fiancé as you grow more and more desperate to escape the engaged life.
15. You will ask Google wedding-related questions on a daily basis.
Such as “how to address Save the Dates”, “who pays for the honeymoon”, “how to tell someone to not bring a plus one” , “can my mother be my Matron of Honor” , “how to pick your bridesmaids” , “how to fake calligraphy” , and “do I wear my engagement ring on my wedding day.” Yes, I have had to Google every single one of these things. The Internet is an amazing place.
16. You will feel like you don’t fit into some of your social circles anymore.
Bible studies for singles or students just don’t seem to be tailored for you anymore, and even hanging out with single friends, even though you swore getting engaged wouldn’t change anything, doesn’t excite you as much as it used to. You will find that you relate to them less and less, and you will cling to the people around you who actually are in long-term relationships because you don’t feel like the odd one out around them. Yes, being engaged can actually be isolating, especially when you’re a twenty-something still in the throes of college.
17. You will be more self-conscious about how in shape you are for your wedding day than you are any other time of the year.
Even though you’re fine with your weight or your size for most of the year, the pressure to have the perfect body becomes way more real when you get engaged. You know that those wedding photos will be around FOREVER and you want to look hella good in them (or at least just have super toned arms since the whole strapless dress thing). As a result, you will fixate on exercising and eating right, which, FYI, DOESN’T MAKE YOU A GODDESS OVERNIGHT. In case you didn’t get the memo (because I sure didn’t), it’s going to take some time to break out of the sedentary lifestyle you’ve been in for the past four or five years. So good luck forcing yourself to run on the treadmill that faces the mirror and shows you just how awkward you look on that treadmill. Who do you think you are — a runner??
18. You will forget that God has always provided for you.
If you’re moving out of your parents’ home when you get married, you have both the excitement and fear of being out on your own. You’re imagining all of the things you and your spouse will do together while also worrying about how you’ll pay for those things. You’ll be creating budgets that you don’t know will actually work and you’ll be making financial plans that you don’t know will actually stick. And as you fixate on money and homes and material things, you will begin to see life more out of the lens of an anxious woman than a woman protected and taken care of by the Creator of the universe. You will forget that God has been there with you every time you’ve been alone and confused. You will forget that he has shown up in miraculous ways in your life, that he answers prayer. You will think that you have to do everything on your own. But you don’t.
. . . . .
My lovelies, being engaged can be an intense and anxious time. Besides the constant fantasizing of just how amazing your life will supposedly get when you’re finally married, there’s also the fear of the unplanned, unknown future. Both of these things can stifle your closeness with God if you’re not careful. This is something I’ve been experiencing firsthand and am hoping to encourage other women with if anyone is finding that they, too, are letting this chaotic wedding season take their eyes off the true Prize.
My last conclusion on this whole being engaged thing is that it isn’t as great as it looks in the movies or on Facebook, but that’s perfectly fine, especially when you think about how short of a period this is in the grand scheme.Years down the road, when Grant and I are wrinkly and grey, this season will be remembered as a blur. We will have graduated on to bigger things, like having children, buying a home, having a career, and seeing our family grow. So I’ve decided that while I’m in this “waiting period” called engagement, I’m going to try to relax and enjoy life as much as I can.
Whisper a prayer on my behalf when you think of me, please. I could use it.
And if you’ve learned any lessons from being engaged that you think other women could benefit from, please feel free to comment below! I know that I for one am desperate for more knowledge. I’m already building my long list of questions for our premarital counselor. Lord have mercy on him and on us. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I’m ready.
We live in a culture obsessed with numbers.
We put too much stock into numbers, quantity, measures and units.
I’m talking about the dollar amount in our bank accounts, the numbers on the scale, our GPA, the number of likes our Facebook profile pictures receive, how old we are when we marry, how many months and years we can maintain a relationship, the amount of events we have planned in a given week, the number of calories in our food and followers of our blogs and compliments on our outfits… I could go on.
I realized this yesterday when I came to the conclusion that I myself often base the quality of my day off of the quantity of good versus bad things that happen to me.
I got a great parking spot and ran into a friend who made me smile. Oh, but then I found out about a homework assignment that’s due and I realized my coffee doesn’t taste that good. To make up for it, I’ll go to 2nd and Charles and buy some new CDs and then take a nice, long nap. And if no one invites me to do anything tonight and I find myself sorrowful because of my lack of social life, I will go to Starbucks and buy an iced lemon cake for myself and watch three episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess on Netflix. That’s enough “good” stuff to balance out the “bad”, right?
This is the worst perception of life that I could possibly have, yet I found myself judging my day (and many days before that) with this screwed-up method.
I am guilty of frequent retail therapy sessions. I keep recording movies to keep in my DVR for those nights when my calendar is empty. I find solace in forty-minute afternoon naps. Going to sleep before 11:00pm is not an option. I change my hairstyle any time I undergo a major change in my life. I try to have as many adventures as possible (that’s the thing that college students my age do, right?).
For a time, this method seems to work for me. I make sure that no matter what happens in a given day, I at least have enough money for a Starbucks purchase and one random friend I can call up to make plans with when everything else falls through. As long as the good outweighs the bad, I’m doing alright.
But here’s the problem: I am trying to fill my life with numbers and measures and I put more value into measurable things than I do the immeasurable. And the sad truth is that the immeasurable things, the stuff that never runs out, are the only things that can really fill me up.
These immeasurable things, the stuff that is outside limits and too great to be tagged with a number, are the things of the Kingdom of God. These things include joy, peace, protection, victory, healing, and so much more.
Now here is my cry of truth (or “rant”, if you must) for all of the people out there in the world who find themselves in the same boat as me:
Why, why, WHY are we counting and caring about numbers when God is offering us infinite joy, infinite peace, infinite grace, infinite love, infinite acceptance, infinite satisfaction?
Maybe the reason for this is because when he does hand us these amazing gifts of infinite quantity, we, out of habit and an unhealthy misperception of what meaningful life is, subconsciously put a cap on those things with our dumb numbers.
We subconsciously believe that joy comes from having more wonderful things happen to us than awful ones. So when he tries to offer us his joy, no matter what time of the day, we have to wait until those wonderful things happen to truly believe in it. Oh, I got an A on my test! I just got a Starbucks gift card right when I was running out of money! God is so good! No, God was always good and always wanted us to rejoice in that goodness, but it took us receiving a good grade or a kind word from a friend or finding $20 or hearing a Louie Giglio sermon to accept it. Sadly, it’s not even accepted in full. When we get home later that day and mom starts yelling or the laundry is piling up, we’re usually back to where we started- wondering why wonderful things never last, putting a number on things when those numbers don’t really mean anything. His joy is bountiful enough to cover ALL things, but we don’t let it.
We subconsciously believe that his forgiveness and grace is only applicable in our lives up until the moment we make a mistake again. If we make two or three mistakes, we maybe even wait a longer amount of time until running to him again. After all, there’s only so much forgiveness he wants to give us, right? We already made a mess of our day- better wait until morning to repent and start again. I honestly believe that this is one of the most crippling lies we could believe in, and I know it comes from satan himself. What better way to incapacitate a believer than make them believe for a time that the one thing that brings them salvation, Christ’s death on the cross that paid the penalty for ALL sins, is no longer true or valid?
We subconsciously believe that his promises for our life that pertain to marriage, careers, and ministry are more important than the promises he’s given us from the beginning- promises of his everlasting presence, his unfailing love, his protection and the victories he’s scored on our behalf. We know of these promises and we sometimes declare them in times of great difficulty after we’re hit over the head with them. But usually, we’re too busy looking for the other promises and insight into our lives to even remember those. God, what is your step-by-step plan for my life? Will I find the man of my dreams by the time I graduate college? How long will I be out in the mission field? When will I find my dream job? These things would be great to know, but again we see the fixation on numbers, age, and time when things of immeasurable importance, like his never-ending love and all-mighty power, are placed on the side until we have nothing else to grasp onto.
You see, we have a major problem on our hands. But numbers, my friends, are NOT, and never will be, valid solutions.
I will say it again, and shout it from the rooftops. Numbers will NEVER be solutions to the problems in our lives.
We care far too much about numbers when life, truly meaningful life that is found in Christ, has nothing to do with numbers at all.
We have to stop counting.