Kyle got down on one knee, and I told him to get up. He couldn’t possibly be proposing. It was neither the time nor the place I had planned for my perfect proposal. The poor guy insisted that this wasn’t a joke and that he was, indeed, asking me to marry him. It took a few moments, but I eventually believed him. Oh, and then I said yes.
That was my first clue that being engaged was going to be complicated. And not just because we’d have to make tough decisions—like choosing between double chocolate and butternut cream cake—but because being engaged is unlike any other life stage. It comes with unique stresses and unique challenges. And unique opportunities to grow closer to God.
But first, we have to get past the myths that can creep in and distract us from reality. We have to stop thinking like Hollywood script writers.
Are you believing myths about engagement? Here’s how to confront and overcome them.
Myth #1: My wedding day is the most important day of my life.
Well, it is an important day—you’re pledging to share a bathroom with someone for the next six decades or so—but it’s not the most important day. If your life’s crowning achievement is getting a wedding band, then the road up ahead will be pretty anticlimactic. If you think about it, your wedding day isn’t even as important as the day you commited your life to Christ. After that, you’re a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and every day becomes an important adventure filled with purpose. Yes, getting married is one of those important adventures, but it won’t be the last.
Myth #2: Every detail must be perfect.
Spoiler alert: Things will go wrong at your wedding. The caterer will serve gouda instead of brie or some kooky relative will wipe out during “Love Shack.” Perfection is unattainable, and the more you expect and strive for it, the more your wedding day will be filled with stress and anxiety. Philippians 4:6 says to “not be anxious about anything,” and that includes your wedding. At the end of your wedding day, the only detail that really matters is that you and your new husband or wife said, “I do” to each other. Besides, mishaps really will be the stories you remember and tell for decades (like when Aunt Mildred does the Worm.)
Myth #3: The bachelor/bachelorette party is a free pass.
Movies like The Hangover perpetuate the myth that our “last night being single” is also your last chance at having any kind of adventure in your life. It’s tempting to assume there won’t be consequences for certain decisions—it’s all in the name of an American rite of passage, right? But the reality is that you’re still accountable for your actions, and your fiancé deserves to know about every one of them. There’s nothing wrong with cutting (a little) loose—I’ll freely admit to riding a mechanical bull at my bachelorette party—but your actions should still honor and respect your fiancé. Nobody wants their wedding day to take place under the cloud of a guilty conscience.
Myth #4: I have to lose weight.
I had no problem with my body until a co-worker took one look at my pasta lunch and asked, “So, when are you starting your wedding diet?” That’s when I started believing I had to lose weight. Slimming down for the big day is a common goal, but keep in mind that your fiancé pledged to marry you just the way you are—not 15 pounds lighter or with flatter abs. In Song of Songs, the woman is insecure with her appearance, saying, “Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun” (Song of Songs 1:6). Her groom-to-be reassures her, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7). Accept the blessing that your fiancé already thinks you’re hot stuff— belly and all.
Myth #5: We have to work out all our quirks before getting married.
Every couple has issues. Sometimes it’s baggage from past relationships. Sometimes it’s poor communication. Premarital counseling is a healthy tool to acknowledge and sift through these issues, but they won’t just—POOF!—be resolved. And that’s okay. Getting married isn’t the end of a journey; it’s the beginning. Learning to love and forgive is a continuous process. It’s an everyday choice to be patient, kind and enduring (1 Corinthians 13:4,7) with your true love’s quirks. If your relationship was perfect from the get-go, you wouldn’t have any room to grow stronger together.
Myth #6: It’s our day. No one else matters.
Yeah, it’s your wedding, but your parents, grandparents, pastors and friends helped to make you the lovable person you are today. Yes, it’s annoying when they expect stake in your wedding—like your parents inviting 50 of their closest friends whom you’ve never met—but it’s gracious and generous to consider their requests. Though you can’t please everyone (and you shouldn’t try), being gracious and generous with your wedding day is will help set the tone for the rest of your marriage.
Myth #7: Planning a wedding would be easier if we had a bigger budget.
You know what Biggie says: Mo money mo problems. And Paul agrees: “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money is often a sticky subject while planning a wedding, but the solution is not to have more. The more there is, the easier it is to become slaves to stuff, craving prettier and more expensive things. The answer is to be content and grateful for every cent, remembering that the pretty things of your wedding are fleeting and will have no impact in the greater scheme of your marriage.
Elizabeth Miller Wood is a Cincinnati-based advertising copywriter and freelance journalist. Find her at www.ElizabethMillerWood.com or on Twitter.