Why is it that every time I ask an engaged couple how the engagement is going they reply with a half-hearted, “it’s going okay, we’re just ready for to be married.” Somehow engagement has become a nuisance that couples have to struggle through rather than enjoy.
Engagement is a transition period. You are unmarried, but you are at the precipice to being married. Waiting is so difficult, so rather than making engagement something to remember fondly, it gets rushed while being given only flippant thought.
I look back at my own engagement as one the highlights of my relationship to Rose (now my wife). Sure, I’m human and had to fight against the urge to rush the engagement, but God somehow met us during our seven month long engagement and prepared us for a marriage that could last.
So what does it make to shift from merely making it through the time of engagement to instead making it the best time of your life?
Here’s where I would start:
Get to know your future spouse for who they are.
I’m sure by now you know a lot of interesting facts about your fiancé, but engagement is a chance to get to know him or her for who they are. While dating it’s quite easy to act like the person you think your boyfriend/girlfriend wants you to be. Soon enough this mask will wear off and both of you will be left wondering where the person you dated is.
Engagement is an opportunity to ask hard questions, such as: How are you different? How are you the same? What will be the areas where you will butt heads?
During my engagement, I remember taking a personality test during our pre-marriage counseling. We ended up scoring directly opposite in every category. Our marriage counselor said, “Well, this is going to be interesting.” And he was right. But knowing how we were different allowed us to prepare well.
Establish a budget. Figure out your schedules. Pick out at least one night a week for a date. Who is cooking dinner? Who is doing the dishes?
Engagement is a worthwhile preparation time. These won’t be the most enjoyable conversations you’ve had but I promise it will make the first month of marriage much easier. Part of making engagement a worthwhile time is preparing for the next step.
Invite others to speak into your relationship.
God didn’t intend for your relationship to exist on an island. We have been created as relational beings, reflecting the communal being of God. I’ve noticed a tendency for engaged couples—especially on college campuses—to begin disengaging from the friendships that were vital earlier in their dating relationship.
Engagement is an opportunity to invest into the friendships that will help support your upcoming marriage. Ask for advice. Seek out wise counsel. Build a support base around your upcoming marriage during engagement, because if you wait until after the vows, it might be too late.
Make a memory.
Part of the struggle of being engaged is how little you remember of it years into marriage. You remember the proposal and you remember the wedding day, but engagement is a massive blur of time. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is by doing something memorable.
Go on a trip to somewhere you’ve never been. Hike a trail you’ve never hiked. Cook an extravagant meal together. Plan a surprise for your fiancée.
Engagement can be a struggle as you transition from dating into marriage, but it is a necessary period of time that God can use to prepare your marriage with the strength and foundation to succeed over a lifetime.