Your engagement is a special period in your life of anticipation, celebration, and love. Though it's easy just to think of your engagement as a countdown to your big day, you should realize that this is an important time that you'll (hopefully) never have again. Here's how to make your engagement something unique and wonderful.
Invest in Each Other
There’s a reason why you’re getting married right? You love each other tremendously and want to spend the rest of your lives together. But it’s easy to let the stress and pressure of wedding planning drive you apart, rather than together. So during your engagement, go on dates, do nice things for no reason, appreciate each other's strengths, kiss frequently, and accept each other's faults with love.
Engagement Is a Preparation for Marriage
During your engagement, you'll be doing a lot of negotiation about topics that you’ll still need to negotiate once you're married. Common topics include money and budgets, family relationships and roles, friends, and boundaries. Now is a good time to work toward compromises that will allow each of you to feel empowered and respected.
For example. rather than trying automatically to win every argument about how to spend your money, think about how you’ll want to handle bigger money decisions in your marriage. Do you want to decide money decisions equally, compromising? Do you each want to have “splurge” accounts that you can spend freely without consulting each other? You certainly wouldn’t want your partner to go behind your back, so make sure that you are negotiating fairly.
Consider pre-marital counseling to help strengthen your bonds and prepare you for the challenges and joys of marriage. This can be especially helpful if you are addressing complex concerns such as religious or cultural differences—or if your extended families are already becoming a source of friction.
It goes without saying that you and your spouse-to-be will take time during your engagement to celebrate love. But this is also a good time to celebrate other kinds of relationships in your life. Take this time to thank your parents for the ways they raised you and prepared you for this time. Check in with your bridesmaids & groomsmen about what’s going on in their lives, and use the engagement as an excuse to get together and strengthen your friendships.
Treat Yourself Well During Your Engagement
Most of all, remember to take care of yourself during this important time. You'll be experiencing pressure from many different sources, but in the long run, the wedding (and marriage) should reflect the values you and your partner share.
There’s a huge (and understandable) focus on looking good for your big day, and so many brides and grooms use this time to lose weight. But crash diets will leave you irritated, cranky, and lacking the energy to really be investing in your marriage. If you want to lose weight or change your eating and exercise habits, think about making yourself healthier as a lifelong commitment rather than a countdown to a date and a number on a scale.
Think about what you want and what’s important to you. With so many decisions to be made and other people’s opinions swirling around you, it’s easy to get lost. Keeping a journal can be helpful, as can talking to trusted friends and re-centering yourself.
Engagement Is Not Just a Countdown!
While you do want to be using a checklist to make sure you are keeping on top of your tasks, forget the countdown calendars and tickers. Instead, you might think to yourself, “What do I want this month of my engagement to be about? How am I going to prepare for my wedding and marriage this week/month/day?” And while those preparations will certainly include finding a caterer and deciding on favors, they can and should also include mental preparations and strengthening your relationships.