We've all heard of, if not experienced, the dreaded engagement period. A period that is supposed to be full of love and excitement, but instead ends up being exhausting, full of fights and can show you a lot of things about the person you're about to marry. Relationship problems after engagement are very common, so it's never a matter of how to prevent them, but more of how to manage them...how to deal with your fiancé, how to reach compromises, agreements and how to handle this stage in your relationship.
Why is the engagement period hard?
It starts off just like anything else, all honeymoon-ey and exciting. You both can't wait to get married and plan your home together. You're actually excited for the families to get to know each other better and for more official gatherings.
The problems then arise again, just like everything else, when you realize that these exact things you were very excited about can be a pain in the butt. You find yourselves disagreeing on a lot of technicalities; where do we wanna live? Why there? Who should compromise? Should we involve the parents? Why are you involving your parents? I think we should have a small wedding. No I want a big one...You get the idea.
There's also the issue of family involvement, for the first time the relationship becomes not just about you anymore. You're molding into one family. Some are lucky and the families love each other and everything's beautiful and fine. However, we all hear of family fights, in laws not liking the fiancé and disagreements on life changing decisions. Add to all that the stress and pressures of getting married; The wedding date is approaching. The kitchen's not ready yet! Who's fault was that? You should have supervised the workers...So what on earth should you do?
How to deal with your fiancé and survive the engagement period horros:
1. Compromise, but on another level
If you thought you'd both mastered the art of compromising before. Now it's on another level. It's no longer about compromising when it comes to where you should have dinner. Now it's about major life decisions. The color of your coach is the least of your problems. However, which apartment you should invest in and how big the wedding should be could take up most of the arugments. So, you both need to start re-learning how to compromise. You begin to educate yourselves on what's really important, how to communicate and understand what the other person wants and why they want it and how you can find a middle ground.
It's also important to compromise without having built up resentment that would later come up in passive aggressive comments every now and then. That's why it's important to have a balance and not have one person do all the compromising while the other gets everything they want. Also always voice your concerns. If you compromised, but you still think it's unfair or it bothers you, don't keep it in, tell your partner exactly how you feel openly and honestly.
2. Remind each other of what's really important
In the midst of all the chaos, drama and tension, we tend to forget what's really important and what we're doing all this for. You both love each other and you're both making a conscious commitment and choice to build a life with each other. Marriage should be a celebration of that, not an obligation that causes stress and pain. Every now and then try to remind yourself and the other person of the purpose of all this. You're getting married...finally! You love each other and your happy, that's the most important thing. Anything else can be resolved and will be solved.
3. Have a united front
When it comes to family problems and intervention, a lot of experienced couples suggest that the most crucial thing to do, in order to keep the drama at bay is representing a untied front. To your parents and family, you as a couple agree and want the same things. You represent one entitity that has one opinion. Why? Because even if the reality is completely different and you both can barely agree on anything...your family doesn't need to see or know that. This could only cause more chaos and disagreements. Before you talk to your family about any decisions, sit with each other and come to an agreement on what you will present to them, so that the plan is clear, set and both sides can see exactly what you want and where you stand. This will also minimize any potential intervention from getting between you too and causing more confusion.
4. Accept that things won't go the way you imagined and that's okay
For a lot of people, the hardest thing when it comes to engagement, marriage or even dating is that the image they created in their heads of how they expected things, turns out to be far from reality. Does that mean something's wrong with you or your relationship? No, not necessarily. It just means that we are yet to live and learn. We tend to build up expectations and then fall dissappointed that things didn't go the way we imagined.
This causes frustration, anger and sometimes even blaming the other person. It's okay for things to be different than what you thought. Sometimes the reality is much healthier and better, even if it doesn't seem so at first. Wedding planning and furnishing your home will be hectic. Yes, there will be some beautiful moments, but it's okay if you're unable to get those tiles you've always wanted or that venue you'd planned on booking. Try to take it easy and be thankful for whatever happens.
5. Don't be too harsh on yourselves
When you get into a big fight and you're both acting up or behaving abnormally, try to remind yourselves to take it easy on each other and take it easy on yourself. This is a stressful period, so it's natural for your to be cranky, for you to not be fully yourselves, to forget to go on your Thursday dates or say 'I love you' 5 times a day. The pressure can get to you and even though it's not ideal, it's common. So don't be too harsh on yourselves and the relationship, you might not be drifting apart, you just need a break from the family obligations and wedding planning.
6. Take a break from it all
Which brings us to our next point. Take a break from the planning and the decsion making. I know you're tight on time, but can't you just spare a weekend? Just 2 or 3 days to not do errands, not plan or even discuss anyting related to the wedding. Just you 2 spending time together and being you when you were just dating with no obligations.
7. Remember to enjoy it
When there's something to be excited about...get excited about it! Don’t overlook it because of all the other things that our going wrong. Take your partner and take this moment in together and cherish it. Look at how beautiful the kitchen ended up being or you're excited that you both got that photographer you both love. Celebrate the little things so you can remember to enjoy the process together.
9. Take your time
Some people say don't stretch out the engagement period so you could avoid tension and problems, but the thing is...rushing to get things done and get married quickly is what causes stress and problems. Struggling to fit the time period that is acceptable or suggested to you will cause more panic and will have you rush things that you would have rather enjoyed or taken your time with. The world won't end tomorrow, take a deep breath, take your time and make peace with the fact that things will happen when they happen.
Main Image Credits: Instagram @jimchapman