This past weekend I went out and bought bikes for my daughter and me. The last time she owned a bike it still had training wheels attached to it, and once they were removed she rarely rode her bike. But she had been asking for months to get one and I promised her after she returns from summer vacation I'd get it for her. So I kept my word and I got the bike. This bike is the REAL deal! It’s not pink or purple and it doesn’t have a little cute bell attached to it. It’s a ladies mountain bike! Immediately after she took off for her first ride, she quickly realized that this thing that she'd built so much anticipation over getting was not as easy as it seemed. So many things are happening in your brain when you are riding a bike. For her it was maintaining her balance and not crashing.
This scenario reminded me so much of what engagement feels like.
Engagement is a wonderful thing! It was our first outward expression of our commitment to each other. We remained pretty private with our love life for most of our dating relationship. Mainly because that’s our natural tendency but also because we both saw how social media and other people’s opinion can be destructive to a new relationship. Fast forward to two years later, we’re engaged.
I’ve been engaged for 11.5 months and I have learned so much. I think the first and constant lesson for me was engagement is truly the first of many “I do’s.” If you think the “I do” comes the actual day of the wedding, I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case. In fact, my first “I do” came within the first week of engagement after we bumped heads over me not answering his text in a sufficient amount of time. Apparently he needed an answer right away and I was too busy to respond, even though I read it. I know what you’re thinking, that’s a dumb thing to be arguing about. I couldn’t agree more! But that’s the thing, we found ourselves arguing about dumb things that turned into something bigger and then boom…we’re questioning everything, we’re going back and forth, we’re both confused because we thought engagement would be this long period of bliss and it ain’t, etc. We found ourselves in a spin cycle and once it was over, we had to decide if we still wanted to say “I do.”
Silly me, I thought our arguments would be wedding planning related, but it wasn’t. I mean we may discuss a topic and have opposite views on it but it never rose to a heated debate. But you taking a bite of my perfectly made sandwich after I’ve prepared it--that will surely get that spin cycle going! DUMB stuff! And some may argue and say “well if you’re arguing about that then it must be something deeper.” Maybe for some people that is actually true. For us, it wasn’t the case. But instead, it was the reality of us becoming one.
The merger of two people, regardless of similarities, is a REAL process. While dating, it was different. We rode with the “training wheels” with no problem and didn’t need to worry about balancing or falling. But now that we have that new and shiny set of wheels (the ring) all of a sudden this balancing act became difficult; it became real.
I love my fiancé tremendously. But I loved him prior to the engagement. So it wasn’t a matter of love or the lack thereof. It was a matter of understanding that there’s no turning back; you’ve got to say “I do” over and over and over again. And if you can’t do that during the engagement, you won’t be able to do it during the marriage. He would get annoyed while we were dating if I didn’t text back, or I’d be furious if he took a bite out of my sandwich, but it was different back then; it wasn’t that deep. Now, we’ve both set up some expectations in our heads about who we needed to be as we prepare for marriage and we shouldn’t be people who commit those terrible crimes of not texting your fiancé back in a decent amount of time, lol.
Five tips for the soon to be engaged, borderline engaged, thinking about being engaged or the newly engaged:
1. Buckle up! You are in for a ride for sure. Grab hold of the fact that you are becoming one. It’s a unique merger like no other, a fusion of life experiences, and a process that will cause you to give every ounce of energy that you have and then some.
2. Consider going to pre-marital counseling. I found that counseling/therapy in general is such a healthy addition to one’s life. And if you choose that route, try to start it within the first month, post engagement. Counseling is truly a gift! Those professionals are trained to ask the right questions that allow you and your partner to look deeper into what’s truly causing that spin cycle I referred to earlier. Sometimes, it’s a matter of considering another perspective. Let me add: I never equate counseling to having a problem. Often times, people will only consider counseling if there is a problem. But with a big step like marriage, I feel as though you can uncover some truths in those sessions that could potentially help you prior to a problem even occurring.
3. Be careful not to be swayed by other people’s situation. Don’t compare your engagement to another person’s engagement. Truth is, you don’t really know what their engagement is like, even if they blog about it. Every situation is unique and should be treated as such.
4. Be honest with yourself! Don’t “fake the funk” because you got that new and shiny ring on your finger. There isn’t any “bling” that can take away the realness of feeling pressed beyond your max point. That bling comes at a price! It requires you to do what most people don’t want to do: grow and get uncomfortable. It’s not about changing your partner, but rather growing together as one.
5. Stick with it! An engagement is only for a season. Don’t lose what you’ve built over the months or years over some petty disagreement. Go back to what is “home” for you and your partner. For us, “home” was/is being goofy. We can laugh about any and everything and when we are in that frame of mind, it truly feels like home.
Needless to say my daughter crashed several times with her new bike and she has the bruises to prove it. But the one thing she didn’t say was “Mommy, take this bike back.” Nope, she was determined to get past the tears and figure out how to balance this bike. I even asked her several times “Yana do you still want this bike?” She kept replying “I do, I do.”