What to expect and how smart people prepare for marriage (and their wedding)
On New Year’s Eve, my fiancé proposed and I said “Yes”. I had been expecting the proposal because we picked out the engagement ring together. I used to like surprises, but this was better, because we did this together.
This was the second time I had been proposed to. The first time I had no idea the proposal was coming, as I didn’t help pick out the ring. This time around I knew what to expect about a wedding ring and marriage. As anyone getting engaged for the first (or not the first) time, I had exciting thoughts about how would we get married?
As officially engaged, our status from Boyfriend or Girlfriend, has been upgraded to Fiancé. He’s my new official Plus One. We have high hopes for our marriage. In the first month, we were the envy of our friends who congratulated and were excited for us.
When you’re engaged, the feeling of happiness overflows into every ounce of your being. You’re in a state of bliss.
it’s a time of joy, but before your wedding planning starts, there are some critical things to think about and do, before saying “I Do”. Don’t skip this smart step, as it will be harder after the wedding planning gets in motion. In excitement, many couples have blinders on and forget to plan their marriage.
When my now fiancé and I got engaged, we were both starting our own new seasons of life. I was leaving a career, and he was starting retirement in a different country!
It all happened within the first few months. Neither of us thought it would be the right time to plan a wedding, despite all our curious friends inquiring.
When the swirling excitement feelings died down, we were back to real life and decisions.
We spent weeks apart. And my fiancé lost a parent during these first few months. Instead of marrying right away, we decided to wait through this season of indefinite length. Then, we were expected to be living long distance apart for about a year. There was no clear picture of a selected wedding site, which is needed for setting a wedding date. We chose to wait for the right timing.
Not everyone does this waiting. You have to do what is right and works for you as a couple. But there are some important things that every engaged couple should consider. Maybe you should wait.
Important Things to Consider
The first year of marriage for many couples is the hardest, getting used to each other in each other’s lives, and sharing the same living quarters.
It’s unlikely that two people have the same living habits, and this could be an issue until you come up with solutions. Getting a simple reversible “clean/dirty” magnet for the dishwasher could save you an unnecessary conversation or argument. If you talk about daily chores every day, that will wear on your relationship. You want your partner to see you as attractive, and not like a parent.
If you were co-habiting before marriage your first year, you are still working out differences and have to find common solutions and ways to communicate effectively that work for the both of you.
Dating is so different from marriage because you aren’t sharing bank accounts, other responsibilities, and thinking forever together is the reality (so we should get things right from the start).
Having been married and divorced before, love is not based on exciting times. Loving feelings can get lost when couples are no longer doing all the fun stuff they were doing when dating. There are daily responsibilities in the home and life, and it’s good to prepare for this and have realistic expectations.
It won’t be all fun, but you should find time to have fun together.
-Find activities you can enjoy together. This will improve your view of your relationship, and are fun to plan as a couple.
Even if you run into rough times, you can fall back on these activities that can help glue you back together. Find several common interests, like a passion to travel together could be one, but if you don’t have the financial means to travel during a season, then you want to have another activity.
You may have friends in common you like to do things with. Or you may both like watching sports, bicycling, sailing, or hiking. Those could be good in nice weather, but what activity can you do together that is not weather or season dependent (out of your control)? For example, you both like working out at a gym, visiting museums or playing board games.
-Be sure you are on the same page.
Check your values and dreams. You may have expectations that your partner doesn’t know about (or vice versa). For example, did you talk about where you will live now, your dreams for the future, and if you want to start a family? What are each other’s deal breakers? Any thing can spring up in your lives that you can’t predict, and you want to find out if you have the potential to navigate through these times together. Marriage planning is so different than actual wedding planning.
If one of you is not ready for children when you’re engaged, discuss it anyway. You do not want to be 5 years into a marriage, and then be surprised on each other’s feelings about this topic. Not discussing before marriage could cause friction as it was never discussed in the beginning. Instead be upfront that you are ready or not ready now to start a family, but could be in the future.
If you never want to have children, be honest about that. It’s not too late to back out of getting married. You should be responsible about how you answer this topic. You or your partner could change your minds in the future, but getting married on uncertain premises could lead to divorce, resentment, or deep compromise. Having a successful marriage is a 50–50 gamble, so better to increase your odds and start discussions right away.
-You or your partner may get cold feet during engagement. This is normal, but make sure that you don’t ignore this possible warning sign. It could be nothing but temporary, or it could mean something. Try to let time do it’s part. Sometimes you just need to get or give space.
If you have started planning your wedding, and one of you “gets cold feet”, you may feel like there’s too much already invested in the wedding, deposits, family expectations, etc. But this is actually a good time to make sure the both of you want to go through with it, as a divorce could be more costly.
Think about your future responsibilities as a spouse. Traditional wedding vows are about “for better, or for worse”. Could you imagine yourself with this person in either case? If your partner is no longer working, health is ailing, or they can’t support themselves, would you still stay? If the answer inside of you is a clear “no”, then you may want to stop and consider why. This may not be the right person for you.
Sometimes we are in love with the idea of being in love and the fairytale ending. But the ending doesn’t end well if you haven’t chosen the right person for you. There is a right person for you.
If You’ve Found the Right Person
If you’re with the right person, the timing is right and you are at peace with your decision, then it’s time to move forward. Turn your engagement into marriage.
As you plan your wedding, don’t sweat the small stuff, like if family members want to show up last minute, or one of your vendors doesn’t pan out. They may seem significant at the time, but these small things will fade into memory as you wedding day comes and goes. Keep it all in perspective. Remember, the most important thing is that you are with the right partner.
Sometimes your families can get in the way of your wedding planning. Be sure to talk it over in advance with your fiancé, to agree to make decisions together as a united front. If the bride’s parents (your parents or your fiance’s) are paying for the wedding, then the side not paying may not have as much to say, but that should be an agreed upon decision, and not solely based on who is paying.
The last thing you want is to start your marriage on is uneven footing in the sense that one of you is not feeling good about the other or each other’s families.
Discuss any pre-parties and ones that cause friction like a bachelor or bachelorette party. It’s best to do this in the beginning of your wedding planning discussions. Discussing this when the party is already being planned, may cause further issues. If you or your fiancé has to make the decision to end those plans, let that be a joint decision that your fiancé voices to his/her friends and you voice to your friends.
When in doubt, put yourself in your fiance’s shoes. That will be a good way to think for the rest of your married life with your future spouse.