Well, let's add a little substance around here, shall we?!
I referenced an old blog post on engagement in my previous post on 10 tips on getting the most out of your wedding photography. I used to blog more about my faith and how Jesus was shaping different seasons in my life, and I truly want to do more of that through my business. Instead of digging through the archives, I wanted to post that blog post here from July 3, 2013. We were right at the end of our 8 month engagement before getting married, and I shared 5 thoughts on the season of engagement.
Goodness, these words still ring true, even almost 4 years later. I hope you feel encouraged & understood if you're currently in the season of engagement. Here's to tough seasons of growth, trials, and a whole lot of triumphs!
As most of you know, I will be getting married on August 24th of this year (only 52 days to go)! Before we got engaged, I imagined engagement being this magical time where everything is easy, light, and where you're always walking through the clouds. I wish someone would have let me in on a little secret, engagement is an extremely exciting season, but it can also be stressful, testing, and a little bit overwhelming. Hear me out, I'm not here to say that our engagement hasn't been fun, it definitely has been, but a lot of aspects of engagement took me by surprise.
While we were dating I dreamed of being engaged (yes, I am a girl after all). I thought that life would get so much more exciting, especially in the date department. I set my expectations so high that they realistically could not be achieved, even though in my mind they seemed achievable. I expected dates to get more frequent and exciting, I expected to always be happy and giddy, I expected to easily be able to get a new house and live the "la te da" type of life. Well.. sometimes dates are more exciting, sometimes we are so giddy we can't stand it, and sometimes it is blissful.. but there are times when you get overwhelmed with finances, the planning gets hectic, or you're so busy with other things going on (school, work, etc) that you don't have time to focus on the wedding for weeks. Talk about throwing me off & teaching me to re-adjust when things don't go the way I thought they would.
We met with our mentor couple for pre-marital counseling last night and they said that your first year of marriage is tough, it's full of new trials and difficulties that you've never experienced before because it's all brand new. The analogy used to describe their fair warnings for the first year of marriage was that they want us to be able to walk out into the ocean and see the waves rolling in, not going into the ocean blinded and get knocked over by the waves.
That couldn't be more true for engagement, too. We went into engagement with our eyes closed, hoping for the best as we walk out into the ocean. I'll be honest, I've been hit by a few waves when I least expected it. To those of you who will be entering into this season or are already there, I have a few tips for you that I wish I would've heard before we entered into this season.
1. Have friend couples who are in a similar season
We have the best community of friends & we would not trade them for anything. I have learned so much from those I'm surrounded by daily, however, most of our friends in Clemson are single. Having single friends is awesome and I am so thankful for the friendships I have here. We have a few friends who are newly married or about to get engaged. However, there are not many couples around us who are going through a similar season of life, a season of engagement. When you make time to spend with couples who get what you're going through, it's so much easier to walk through this season and be encouraged through the difficult times.
2. Openly discuss your expectations as soon as you get engaged (maybe even before)
Although we've been engaged for almost 7 months, we are still learning what each other's expectations are for engagement. I mentioned earlier that my expectations were to be skipping through fluffy fields of giddy excitement all day every day, that just isn't possible. Yes, we have some blissful days where there are stars in our eyes and we're so excited we can hardly stand it! But, there are days where I cannot wait for this season to be over. Having open communication before/during engagement is so important, especially when it comes to your expectations.
3. Know you're not alone
Chances are, that engaged/married couple you know are going through or have gone through similar trials that you're going through. I have a tendency to clam up and hold all of my emotions and thoughts inside. I see many couples who I don't know well that have gotten engaged that seem to be so happy, blissful, easy-going and like the engagement process is the easiest thing they've ever done. For some, that may be 100% true, but I've been learning that most couples have gone through some sort of trial/testing period that was extremely difficult. Knowing that you're not alone and knowing that others have walked through this too makes it so much easier to face the issues.
4. Arguing is okay, never leave issues lingering
Braden and I had an argument a few days after we got engaged. I remember thinking how on earth we were arguing, we just got engaged we shouldn't be arguing about anything. Let me say this, little arguments over nothing aren't worth it. However, if you're having bigger issues that you're walking through together, it's totally fine and it's normal. I don't mean to brawl out and yell at each other :) I'm just saying that it's good to work through issues, especially before marriage, because chances are those issues only get bigger once you're married. Nip 'em in the butt asap!
5. Know that Satan will test you, especially when you're trying to glorify the Lord
This is the BIGGEST lesson I've learned during this season, and to be honest, I just learned this lesson last night. I've been in and out of town doing wedding errands, visiting family/friends, etc so it's been difficult to get to church on Sunday's. It's even harder to get to church on Sunday's that I don't have anything going on because I'm so ready to rest. What I didn't realize, was that this is exactly what Satan wants.
Our mentor couple told us that we will probably argue almost every Sunday, and we will probably run into an issue/argument every day we're supposed to meet with them. What's funny about that is that we got in an argument on our way to their house for pre-marital counseling last night. The argument was literally about nothing and was so unnecessary. Satan feels so threatened because we're becoming one, especially when two people who love Jesus are trying to glorify the Lord with their engagement and marriage.
For a while, I thought that we were the only crazy people who can't seem to get things on a positive track. To my surprise, this is so common that it's almost the norm. Crazy isn't it? I've read through so many blogs, seen so many pictures, and have been to so many weddings were the couple seem to have it all together and have had no issues throughout their engagement. I wanted to be blunt and I wanted to be honest, if we're equipped and prepared to face the trials, we will reach those triumphs a little more gracefully.
This post may not apply to you at all, but to some it might. After having our first pre-marital meeting last night, it was on my heart to share what I've learned throughout this 7 month journey. It's been tough, but it has also been one of the most fun seasons we've been through so far. Don't let me scare you or make you worry, I'm just trying to be a sister in Christ and to provide some counsel so that you can walk into the ocean and see the waves coming.
Here's to the next 52 days. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for our marriage, but I can't wait to see what else the Lord has to teach us the last few weeks of our engagement.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- Colossians 3:12-14