Monday, May 4, 2015

How People (Don't) React When You Get Engaged

So, you just got engaged! All the butterflies and wonderfulness are overwhelming your soul! Or you knew it was coming and you're like, FINALLY! Regardless of how you feel, your friends and relations tend to act in oddly specific, if unusual ways. There are things you'll hear over and over again, and things you'll hear only once but you'll always remember.

1.'re so young!
Yes, you are. But only you know your maturity level and whether or not you're ready to give up on single life and create another adventure. For me, I've been steadily dating around for 10 years, and that's a lot more experience than many people have. After that much experience, I was ready to move on. There are these posts going around bemoaning women who get engaged in their 20's, and how getting married in your 30's is the only way to go. Sure. For that person, that WAS the only way to go. Think about it this way, you've picked the right one. Now, no more worrying about whether he does or doesn't like you and what you're going to do on date night with your friends. It's a cuddle buddy for Netflix, a workout partner, a motivator for your career, a human back massage machine, saved dinners when you slept in, someone to have your back when you can't buy groceries this month, someone to obsess over and spoil rotten, and a million other things. It's honestly a good way to help you get ahead in life from a purely mercenary standpoint, and aren't they always saying that the sooner you start your career, the better? Think of marriage as one of your careers, good on ya for figuring it out! Plus, no more weird strangers awkwardly groping at your butt at dances. That was never fun, admit it.

2. Haha, get ready to join the rest of us miserable married people!
This is most often heard from guys in their 30's. These guys often have a cynical nature, are married themselves but also work jobs they are unhappy with. They also give out nuggets of gold such as..."don't ever get married," and "kids ruined my dreams". Just recognize that these ones are infinitely unhappy with some procession of choices they made or haven't taken accountability for, and don't get mad. Arguing with them will only cause them to smirk and say, "yep, I was like that too....until I was married for 5 years. Wait and see how you feel THEN!" Just smile and say, "Yep, so excited for the misery!" If they were joking, then they'll laugh. If they were serious, then they'll laugh confusedly. Ha ha ha ha?

3. The love fades so enjoy it while it lasts!
Short Answer: The love will fade if you let it fade. It's a choice yes, but it's not a difficult one. Plus, that's a really rude thing to say. Imagine getting a new outfit and saying, "Look how cute this is!" and them saying, "you'll get fat so wear it while you can!" #rude. Don't let them worry you that you'll never be more in love then you are now. Being in love and getting married is like adding layers to the onion that is your love. The center gets deeper and more secure. I'm bad at similes, but basically, how you feel now is only a shadow of how you'll feel 25 years from now. If this is the right person, then you'll be even more in love and appreciative of this person who decided to share their life with you.

Long Answer: Once I was really mad at my then-boyfriend (now fiance). Like, so mad I didn't even want to see him or want him to touch me. He had no idea what was wrong, (something about me feeling ignored, not important now) but continued to gently sit by me and let me work through my anger. I remember looking at him, REALLY looking at him and thinking how cruel I was being, especially when he didn't even know what was wrong. I suddenly felt bad, so I reached out and lightly brushed his fingers. I was immediately overwhelmed by a wave of such tenderness and protectiveness that I got mad at myself! How could I be mad at this wonderful man who was just sitting there, trying to love me through my shell? It was a defining moment in realizing that no matter what, I always wanted to be on his side, even to protect him from me and my flaws. If I can remember that feeling, then I know I will ALWAYS love him, no matter what. And if that's how I can feel after just a year of dating, then think how much that could increase in a lifetime?
In my relationship, we've had to face a lot of misconceptions about each other due to well-meaning but meddling people, so the choice to stay together was just that, a choice. It was effortless once it was made, but love is like that. It's a choice and an option, not something that just happens but then wears away like the shiny on a new penny. Once you make that choice and open that door, then you basically have this huge castle of love with new doors and additions to explore, and it never stops growing. Like I said, I'm bad at similes, however...
"Love is an open doooooooooooooorrrrrrr!"

4. The engagement is/was the hardest part for us! We fought so much over details, and making it to the temple was practically a race!
I just want to laugh. Being engaged is already easier than the last year and a half (and a month two years ago) of dating ever was. For me, there's a solid certainty there. We can say things we were holding back, and most of them are simply about how much we love each other and what we're now excited to do and plan. Also farting/burping. It's not a free-for-all, but not such a scary concept to accidentally let one loose (or in my case, purposely try to shake the house foundations). Seriously though, throughout us dating, I was constantly looking at the relationship, analyzing what I would have to live with if/when we got married, and whether or not it was things I could live with. I don't think I've ever scrutinized a relationship more closely, most likely because I knew this one had lifetime potential. Now that I've decided and made the commitment though, it's like a huge weight is gone. No comparisons, no sudden realizations about how I've committed to living my life with someone who loves kittens or doesn't make their bed and how that could be a mistake. Those things have already been scrutinized and came up affirmative.
And as for the making it to the temple part, this is mostly for people who decided to wait until marriage to, how shall I say, consummate? This will be different for everyone, and hopefully it's difficult (duh, you want to be attracted to each other), but you're both on the same page so it's possible. Choose an engagement length you think you can manage, and try not to torture each other too much. (I may have already crossed that line by suggesting we schedule in a few hours between wedding and reception...but the look on his face was priceless!)
It's important for us, so we're going to wait, end of story. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's so frustrating that sometimes I just want to scream. And then go find a dark room with lots of candles and lure him there and 'accidentally' fall in a lake so I have nothing to wear....well, you get the picture. But, there are personal reasons that we've made this choice, not just religious ones. And because I believe in this so strongly and he believes this too, then we'll wait. When you both make a non-negotiable choice, then you stick with it. And I'm a big believer in the power of choices and using those to inform your actions.

5. One of you will get sick on your honeymoon. When your immune systems clash together majorly in that way and add it to the stress of the wedding... one of you will 'win' and the other will get sick.
One of the more bizarre things I've heard. Yet to find out if this is true, but here's a bit of advice on how to deal with these comments. Take them into considerations. Tell your fiance. Laugh. Forget, if you can. If not, just laugh.
It's probably true anyway, my fiance got sick after our first major saliva-swapping session, so my bet is that he'll be the one to get sick on the honeymoon too. *fingers crossed neither of us gets sick and that we're already used to each others 'cooties'!*

6. Congratulations! It's going to be the most magical time of your life!
Well, this is mostly true. It will be magical and fantastic. You get to dress up in a princess dress, have people give you gifts and fawn over you, and plan a magical party all about you! And it will be the most magical time of your life...up to that point. There will be better things, more exciting things, and so many more adventures to take. Imagine, if you will, going on a vacation and throwing a party where there's not so many cultural and familial expectations, and where you can not worry about pleasing a single one of those nutters. Those are the parties I really look forward to. If I want to spend $2000 on a dress in the future, then I will. Really though, this is a huge rite of passage, and it's not the end of the magic, but the beginning.

7. So...what's the wedding date?!
This one is well-meaning. For people who want to come support you, it'll be important so they know when to get off work. But take a deep breath and don't let them bowl you over with suggestions and craziness. My fiance got engaged on a Thursday, had a chance to go out that Saturday and we honestly just wanted to relax, and then didn't see each other for another week due to my work/finals/conference/new kitten that all collided. We simply didn't have time to discuss a wedding date, or anything else. You may want a chance to enjoy your engagement a bit more, that's good too.

8. When are you guys planning on having kids? 
Whoa, too personal. Best response is..."we already have one, her name is Starscream! Yes, she's a cat. No, I don't understand your confusion." Or simply, "When we're ready!" That's super personal, on the level of asking, "When ya'll gonna be procreating?" No one should be asking that, so if they do, just have a snappy comeback memorized.

9. Do you think you're actually ready for this?
No, you're not ready. No one is. My fiance and I have a strategy. If we get overwhelmed or someone asks this question, we just throw up our hands and say, "Well I've never done this before so nope!" Good for a laugh and it's true, you're not ready for it. You never are ready for a huge change completely, but you will adapt and rise to the occasion. That's part of the excitement, don't you think?