I first wrote about how things have shifted in my relationship after becoming engaged HERE, but that was only the beginning story. And even now I’m only in the middle of it, but the more I navigate engaged life – a brief, but unique experience – I am realizing more and more how important it is.
In a lot of ways being engaged gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself, and to each other that yes, you really want to do this thing, because the reality is their are many, many opportunities to choose not to. Now that 1/2 of our engagement is over (HALF!) I realize that it’s been split into quarters. The first being excitement, while trying to navigate the business of weddings. There was too much to do, too much shock and awe, to focus on each other. We kept repeating Yes, we want to get married. Yes, we want a wedding. Yes, in Seattle. Yes, we should probably invite some amount of family. And then we would come home and ask ourselves the same questions, “You still want to do this? You sure? You in? Ok good, me too.”
The second quarter was all about criticism and communication. For Kamel and I it was about fighting to the death and then emerging out of the rubble miraculously intact. It was a battle, a marathon, it was exhausting, it was necessary. He wasn’t listening to me, I wasn’t letting it go (whatever IT was that particular day), he wasn’t getting me, I was mean, he was mean, and there was no way in hell I was going to marry him unless we worked it out. And the cycle repeated. Again and again. Fighting, making up, feeling relieved, fighting again over the same crap, taking longer to make up, feeling relieved, and fighting again. The stress of wedding and marriage and what that MEANS mounted along with financial stress and the looming holidays. I wrote this post about feeling strapped for cash right before Christmas, and thankfully it was both the pinnacle and the end of my anxiety and doubt.
And now, since Christmas, things have been lovely. We had a break through with wedding planning (uh, realizing that we could go without all of the extra details and STILL manage to get married and STILL have an amazing time? Yes.), we understand each other better, he listens more, I don’t get so upset about small things, and I have incredible gratitude that he loves me enough to stick it out. The bad months, the frustrating days, the times where I am a total crazy face, the times where he makes me so mad and is so frustrating that I don’t even want to look at him, the times I wish we didn’t live together just so he would go away. I am so grateful that he never has, and even more grateful that I know he never will.
Planning a wedding is only a small part of engagement. The rest is about navigating family (The In-Law and the Non-Law), establishing the parameters for the family you are building, and fighting it out. Let’s talk about the way you want to raise kids, what you expect for holidays, your views on God/god or “what god?”, where you want to spend the majority of your life, how much crap you’re really willing to put up with. Does that push your button? How about that? What if I push you even harder, what happens then? Because I think to go into a marriage as strong a team as possible is important, way more important than centerpieces. A person is an infinitely complicated being, forever evolving and changing its mind, and understanding that begins here – The place where I throw my keys at him as he stomps out of the room, as he yells and then slams the door behind him, as I jump out of the car at a stop sign and walk the rest of the way in protest to his driving. The place where we don’t kill each other, we don’t leave, we don’t spend the night away. The place where we always come back and it’s not forgive and forget, it’s try to understand the other person while still not completely sure how to understand yourself. That’s the place where it starts, and that’s what engagement is.