Thought / Being Engaged
I’ve long had an idea in mind to write about my experience of engagement and now that I’m married I have the beauty of distance to reflect. I’m unsure as to whether these musing are relevant to anyone or not, indeed I hesitated even to publish them; but given how common most experiences are I thought it unlikely they would be unique to me alone.
I never had any expectations about the experience of engagement but it was nevertheless a revealing moment in time. Naturally steeped in emotion it heralded a certain kind of vulnerability; the kind that so often accompanies an air of change. Now marriage was something I didn't think lightly of but it also seemed such a familiar practise that I had in a way accepted its inevitability. Becoming engaged meant that the romantic veil was cast aside. It meant that marriage wasn't something merely for the periphery of my life any longer. That realisation made for uncertainty and the uncertainty made for mixed emotions.
Naturally in the beginning I was awash with excitement; after all it is rather a defining moment to acknowledge the importance of another person to your future happiness. Another's excitement might come swiftly with surprise or it might build at a quiet pace but regardless becoming engaged almost always elicits euphoria.
I was carried along for a good while on the tide of well wishes and excitement that followed our announcement. It was the kind of sensation where your belly turns and toes curl as the emotion ricochets around your body. I've found it an experience that follows the big moments of life and I was intent on basking in it for as long as possible.
As the initial emotion began to dissipate and the distance between that and future matrimony created a pocket of space I found an overwhelming weight had silently came to settle over me.
It’s seed was sown as we began the tussle to plan our wedding day. Neither of us had long standing dreams but the empty slate made decisions even more confusing as we tried to navigate what it was we truly wanted. We fielded expectations and advice from loved ones who love to share and shuttled our own ideas between one another in an attempt at consensus.
The unease that began to weep from those encounters wove itself through us both. It slipped beneath the surface and brought into sharp focus the gravity of this commitment we were about to make to one another. Suddenly the reality of marriage was more than I had considered and I began to think far more seriously of it rather than merely accepting its approach.
Our thoughts can be our greatest undoing for it leads to questions and questions I often find lead the mind into doubt. Maybe no one else doubts themselves and maybe it was terribly shallow and callous of me to pick apart our relationship to its bones. Perhaps you think our love wasn't strong because it gave rise to fear or maybe these were all the insecurities I was ashamed to admit to myself.
I wondered for a time whether doubt was a sign to act on. I’m certain it is for some. To me it never felt fatal though, rather it was more a consideration of who I am and how a life together forever might play out. It seems somewhat cold hearted especially given the emotional creature that I am but I was driven by a need for examination and certainty.
We grow up with the idea that to be in love is to be all consumed; that there isn’t a moment of hesitation. Popular culture idolises romance; the tragedy; the elation; the sentimentality, but it’s rather an unpractical education because it doesn’t prepare you for the uncertainty or the vulnerability it demands. It also means that we sometimes have unrealistic expectations of what our love should encompass.
As I found myself unprepared for the doubt I couldn’t help but obsess over inadequacies in our relationship that I’d never considered before. Suddenly my husbands flaws became much harder to accept and I was left wondering whether he was indeed the person for me.
When you start down a path of what if the current can catch you quickly. Insecurity tumbles from your mind like a cataract spilling over a broken dam. What if we aren't one another's forever; what if over love fades; what if I'd be happier with someone else; what if he'd be happier with someone else. Doubt is full of insidious thoughts and my mind is prone to it. Perhaps yours isn't but in a world full of choices I think it's slowly coming to consume us anyway.
Of course doubt and resistance are necessary so that we don't become complacent but they can also blind you to what virtue there is. Luckily my moment of turmoil gave rise to clarity and I came to realise all the ways that we were in fact perfectly suited. I was never going to be everything all the time for my husband just as he would never be for me but we were one another's counter and our love has always been a collaborative work of art. Thus no matter our failings or differences being apart would've been the far greater heartbreak.
I might've had an easier time of engagement if I wasn't so inclined to explore the grittiness. But then again I wouldn't be who I am if that was the case. My husband thankfully loves me for it and he married me in spite of what can be torture for us both at times. As our day drew nearer all that angst gave way to a deep anticipation at the prospect of marriage. Admitting our fears to one another had made the commitment even more meaningful and it was with such contentment that we eventually wed.
For anyone who has found themselves here and who might presently be engaged ; I can't very well counsel that you needn't worry or fret because I did plenty of that for myself. I would say though that it's very likely you're not alone with your thoughts and fears. We carry on with narratives alone in our mind that can come to tear us down for reasons that make little sense. My greatest reassurance was found in talking to other women and indeed to my husband. Others can often be the mirror we need or the reassurance we deny ourselves so seek out guidance of your own. Candidness with your betrothed can also go a long way at shoring up your love and who knows perhaps they're daunted by the significance of marriage just as much as you are.