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This is a post I have gone back and forth about writing but I think there needs to be more resources out there for couples and individuals that are struggling.
It’s not a secret to those who know us but Ryan and I have had quite the roller coaster relationship. We originally met over 10 years ago (wow! I didn’t realize it had been that long) when I was only 19 and a sophomore in college. A 19 year old who was not looking to settle down! We eventually lost contact (and couldn’t find each other even when we tried) and moved on with our lives.
Fast forward 7 years to when I got an email from Twitter that I had a direct message. Ryan! My heart skipped a beat when I saw who the message was from. I had broke up with someone about a week or two prior to that and wasn’t even thinking about getting into anything serious but I knew right from the minute I got that message, life was going to change.
At the time I received the message, I was living in Arizona and Ryan was in Ohio. 1800 miles away. Did that stop us? Nope. I flew out to Ohio in July and probably would’ve stayed if my cat wasn’t still in AZ! He then came to Arizona in September. The next time I saw him? When he came back November 5th to drive with me across the country to move to Ohio. On December 10th we were engaged.
It’s a crazy story. I know it. What was I thinking packing up my life for a guy I really didn’t even know?
Another little fact that most of you reading don’t know is that I have a lot of health problems. Mainly autoimmune disorders. I was doing good in Arizona… and then I moved to Ohio just in time for winter. I had never lived with a guy before, was sick as a dog, started a new job I really didn’t like, left all my friends and a life I loved, got engaged and was planning a wedding, and we were trying to figure out each other. It was too much at once. I was sick, depressed, and overwhelmed. I moved back to Arizona.
WHAT? Didn’t you guys just get married? Keep reading…
When I told Ryan I was leaving, pretty quickly I knew I was making mistake. All I knew is that I wasn’t happy and already had everything figured out so I felt like there was no turning back. The venue and vendors were cancelled, I already had a job lined up, and a lease signed. I was back in Arizona on July 10th.
Ryan and I talked/texted every single day. What was I doing? In August I missed him so much. I was back in the condo I had previously lived in (luck had it, that it was available) and had my “old” life back. But I didn’t. Everything had changed.
Ryan came to Arizona in September, just like he did the year before. I went to see him in January and felt like I was back home. The ring went back on my finger. The ring that never should’ve came off in the first place. Ryan and I had a lot of conversations the 10.5 months I was gone. Conversations that made us closer that every couple needs to have BEFORE getting engaged.
Our relationship is ANYTHING but normal. Typically you meet someone, date, get to know them and then get engaged.. we didn’t have any of that. Even though that is the norm for relationships, engagements are being broken more than ever these days. I feel as though social media is part of the issue. People are rushing to get engaged to show off that ring and change their relationship status. I’ll even admit that I thought about what other people would think when it came to us. I felt rushed to get engaged so that I didn’t look like a “stupid girl” for moving across the country for a guy.
When it comes to a relationship it needs to be only about you and the other person in it. Sure, family and friends will play a big part but what matters most is the couple. That is what you need to start focusing on.
So what are these things you need to figure out before getting engaged?
This is important. Do you see yourself traveling the world? Owning a business? Being a stay at home mom? You need to know what to expect and what to plan for in the future. Will you will be able to support one another in those dreams?
If one of you wants 6 and the other doesn’t see a future with children… that is huge. Talk about how many you want. Talk about parenting styles. What did you like about how you were raised, what would you change, and what traditions do you want to incorporate?
Adoption? Fostering? Consider all your options. Don’t want kids? What about pets? There is a big difference between someone wanting fish and the other wanting 3 dogs.
Marrying someone, you also are marrying their family in a way. Get to know your possible future in-laws. How will holidays be spent? Are there any expectations from families for the wedding, children, weekly dinners.. you get the picture. How is your significant others relationship with them? What does your significant other expect from you and your relationship with their family?
You should know well before you are about to get engaged but what about any past marriages? Children? Shared pet custody? Ask questions!
Friends tell a lot about a person. Have you met them? If you haven’t, then this probably isn’t as serious as you thought it was. Friends are as important as family. Get to know them. It’s who your significant other CHOOSES to spend their time with.
Will you go to church? What will your child be raised as? What about your wedding ceremony? Not religious at all? Discuss it!
Some people have firm beliefs and are okay if others disagree with them. Others can’t stand when someone has different view points. Find these things out. Abortion? Republic or Democrat? Gun rights? It can be uncomfortable to talk about but it’s important to know. You would hate to be engaged and then the next presidential election rolls around and it causes a broken engagement!
Talk about it now. Go over your credit scores, talk about spending habits, who will pay bills in the future, etc. Financial issues are the cause of so many marital problems so hash it out now!
They have to get done. Or do they? Are you a clean freak and your significant other changes the sheets every other month? Find this out! If they only stay at your house, make sure you get over to theirs. Are they all about typical gender roles where the woman does the cooking and cleaning? You need to know this now.
What is their favorite color? Candy? Restaurant? Coffee or tea? Beer or liquor? Find out all you can about them! These things matter.
Do they bite their nails? Leave the toilet seat up? Play video games when they can’t sleep? What about dirty clothes all over the house? Take note of these things while you are dating. Someday you may live with them (if you do get engaged and then married) and have to deal with it on a daily basis. Do you love them enough to look past the little nuisances?
Next take a look at yours. You may think you don’t have any but you do! Are you willing to change or try to?
You’ve made it through all the tough conversations and are getting closer to getting engaged. What does your big day look like in your head? What does it look like in theirs? An engagement is supposed to be a happy time and not one where you are constantly bickering. Make sure you are on the same page now.
Now that I’ve shared my experience with you, know that you aren’t alone when it comes to freaking out about engagements, marriage, broken engagements… Marriage is a huge step and you need to make sure it is right. Ryan and I talked about pre-marital counseling but with his schedule, we never were able to. If you think that is something you would like – look into it. There are tons of options out there. What did we end up doing? Again, we talked. A lot. But we also read books and did workbooks together. These are the ones I recommend:
Getting Ready For Marriage – A Practical Road Map For Your Journey Together (Click the image to purchase)
We got this book and then we each got a workbook. We would read a chapter out loud together and then do a section of workbook that related. I loved this book and it helped bring us closer. The chapters are so relatable! I ordered this right after I got back to Ohio and over the 10 months before we were to get married we got it done! –> Link to the workbook. Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook
Not only did I learn about Ryan but also about myself! Does your significant other respond more to compliments, gifts, when you do things for them? Find this out now! Highly recommended!
Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts – Seven Questions to Ask Before and After You Marry (click the image to purchase)
We started this right after we got engaged and obviously didn’t continue it when I moved. It was good but we didn’t get into it like we should’ve. I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it. When I came back to Ohio, I made sure when the other books arrived we got them done! I recently found these in the drawer and still want to finish them. What I love about these books is that there is a workbook for men and one for women. Here is the link for men: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Men Updated: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry and here is the link for women: Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Workbook for Women Updated: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry
What else should couples discuss before engagement? Do you have any other resources you recommend?
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