First 1/2 of Engagement: The Truth About Fighting

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.

22 thoughts on “First 1/2 of Engagement: The Truth About Fighting”

  1. Look at you, lady. Being all smart and stuff. =)

    “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.”

    That part rings so true with me. I said to a friend the other day (and kind of on twitter) that Jon and I argue (in full blown yelling) all. the. time. But, we always end up on the other side together, and better for it. It’s how we communicate.

    But you’re totally right, it wasn’t always like this, with the ending-up-better-than-before bit. Some times (ok, full disclosure … for a while there it was all times) it was just the blowing up part. (Your timeline is pretty much right on for what we went through.)

    But we got through, and things are better. We know ourselves … and each other … better, and we recognize what pushes our buttons, and how we react (be it well, or poorly). It made … and continues to make … us better at being US.

    Hooray for you guys for getting to the other side!

  2. “…’s not forgive and forget, it’s try to understand the other person while still not completely sure how to understand yourself.”

    Yes. YES!!!!! Sooo true. And about learning how to navigate families. Huge. I think thats why people always say “the first year is always the hardest”. Um…really? Because our first year rocked, and so did our second. And I think its because people get so caught up in the wedding part of it, or whatever else, that they dont hash all that out during their engagement so they end up having to figure it all out the first year of marriage. Sucky! Who wants to spend their first year of Husband and Wife figuring out if you should really be Husband and Wife. We were like you guys, we figured all that out during our engagement-and the years prior Im sure, so thats why our Newlywed years have been a breeze. And im positive yours will be too! Because youre going through it all now. You guys rock. Just my humble opinion.

    PS-Totally pasted this in the wrong post before this, you can go ahead and delete that, LOL.

  3. Thanks ladies! I was seriously stressing about this post last night. I worried that it would be boring or too angsty. 🙂

    I was actually trying to write a post about fighting for APW back in Nov, but I couldn’t get it out, everything was too close, too much in the moment. It turned out more slap stick and less thoughtful. I think I finally have enough distance that I can say something interesting… here’s hopeing anyway.

    1. Not too angsty at all! Posts like this one generate dozens of “me too!” comments for a reason. 😉 It was hugely important for me when I was engaged to hear that other couples fought a lot during engagement because it helped me stop feeling like there was something wrong with us and our relationship since we were arguing during “the happiest time of our lives.”

  4. Any long engagement will have phases. Mine definitely did. Sometimes they are really worthwhile because they help our relationship move forward. They cement the union and create a stronger team mentality.

    1. I def think that everyone is different, but I am a HUGE cheerleader for the importance of going through the engagement process. I think it’s a journey that can either make it very clear you’re making the right choice, or very clear that you’re not. Both things you should know before you’re legally bound. haha.

  5. So so very true, Lauren. I never thought of engagements as having “phases” before but ours definitely did, now that you mention it. The summer after we were engaged we lived together for the first time, sharing a small studio apartment and BOY did it get bad.

    “…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 SUCH a great way to put it. I think we’re still doing that dance sometimes, even post-engagement.

    Congrats on being halfway there, and I hope it’s all downhill from here! 🙂

  6. This is a fantastic post and I completely relate! We are only one month into our engagement and have spent most of it fighting. We have made all of the major wedding decisions already while his business has been busy and I’ve been in trial. Our wedding is in 6 months. The stresss of the engagement, wedding, life, and family has caused us to snap and fight like we never had before. He and I are communicating and committed but have been worried about the shift in our relationship. This makes me feel so much better and normal! Thank you for sharing!

    1. The moment I finished reading this post I felt so relieved! I’ve been engaged for about 2.5 months and all I can say is, we had never fought like this, not as harsh. My fiancee and I have always been intense and complicated. He is sometimes childish, stubborn and arrogant… 15 days after our engagement we got into a huge fight and a very nasty situation, but it didn’t last more than 1 day. Now, we’ve been “emotionally separated” for about 2.5 weeks! We’ve seen eachother and all, but still, he’s very cold and arrogant. He logged into my FB account and read some messages an ex and I had been sending eachother. Nothing too serious, I wanted him to keep in touch. He felt betrayed and barely talks to me. I’ve asked him many times if he really wants to get married and he says: yes. He says he needs some time to heal…but he’s isolated from him and barely sends and sms to see if I’m alive. I think he’s too harsh but I still try to give him space to think….
      I’m really sad and anxious.

      If any of you have some advice for me, I’d really appreciate it.

  7. OMG! Thank you for helping we through this time…I have been engaged for 2 months, marrying my bestfriend of 10 years. We have never had fights like this…it’s true it brings you closer..most of them are “raw emotions” that during our friendship didn’t matter, now it seems that we are just fighting about everything when are wedding is 6 mths away. You are right, I realize that I have to truly understand myself and understand him at the same time, which sometimes is so hard to do I am lucky that we both allow God to help us listen with our hearts to each other. Thank you for your post again!

  8. Thank you thank you! This post let me know I am not in this alone. I can’t wait to marry my fiancé and I know this engagement period is time to work out all the “stuff” and it can not be pretty at times. Enjoyed this read.

  9. This post was extremely helpful for me. My ex-fiancé and I had been engaged for 6 months and he ended up breaking if off because of “all of the fighting.” Obviously I am heartbroken right now but reading all of these success stories just confirms what I had believed in all along…you have to be able to work on things and work through things together. I always believed that. He just couldn’t end up getting to that repair stage in the end. But this leaves me hopeful I will find someone in the future that can work things through WITH me and fighting and making up is healthy and natural. Thank you!!!

  10. Many years later since your post, I read at and feel relief. I have been engaged for 5 months now and these last month have been with so many fights. Now I know it is normal, just want him to think the same, as two days ago we had a huge fight and he told me he needs to think about he engagement. I feel anxious and a big hole in my stomach, but I guess we didnt have these fights before and have to learn in dealing with them!! Thank you so much!

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