By Olivia Lauren, Crosswalk.com
Once you're engaged, it's time to plan the wedding. But in between deciding on a florist and hiring a caterer, there are some other important, more soul-focused things you should add to your pre-wedding to-do list.
Let's take a look at five things you should do while you're engaged:
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1. Go to Therapy
Prior to my fiancé and I getting engaged, I was already seeing a therapist. Battling OCD and anxiety can be overwhelming, and that was something I did not want to bring into a future marriage. However, after getting engaged, I felt that it was more important than ever for me to attend therapy and be the best version of myself I could be for my future husband.
I know you are probably thinking, “That’s great for you, but I don’t have any reason to see a therapist.” And it might be true; you may not be battling a mental illness. However, planning a wedding alone is enough to send someone to therapy. Today, we understand engagement through pictures on social media–this bliss of white dresses, cake tastings, and professional photos with the love of your life. What’s not pictured is crying because your save-the-date announcements came in and were misspelled, feeling like you aren’t “bridal ready” physically, and answering a million questions from people you still aren’t sure you can extend an invitation to.
My own therapist looked at me during one of our sessions and said, “Everyone should go to therapy before they get married.” Coming fresh out of her own wedding-planning season, she spoke with conviction. The truth is, you can always better yourself. Whether you think you have it all together or not, there is always a place for improvement. If you do suffer from a mental illness, I encourage it even more. Your illness affects your future spouse and the happiness of your marriage. If you love them enough to marry them, you should love them enough to have hard conversations with a professional. And if they are the spouse God has called them to be, they will support you all the way through your journey.
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2. Make a Music List
This one might sound a little self explanatory. However, picking a song for a specific part of your ceremony or reception often feels like telling your new classmates a fun fact about yourself. When the time comes, you can’t think of one. When I am riding down the road or listening to someone else’s playlist, I jot down my favorite songs in my Notes app (please don’t do that while driving, though). There are so many songs that decree my relationship with my fiancé, but the minute I have to tell the DJ what songs I want him to play and when, I know I will go blank.
Not only will you do yourself a favor saving tons of time racking your brain but music is a natural stress reliever. Use this opportunity to not only select music for your special day but also take a walk down memory lane and reminisce on songs that remind you of your first date, a vacation you took together, or another special memory. Not all of wedding planning has to be miserably hectic, so take a chance to let the music bring some fun into your wedding planning.
Pro tip: You can also share the Note with your fiancé on any iPhone device. This way, you both can be adding songs as the months pass by. By the time you get to your wedding, you will have a whole list of song choices for your DJ or to hook up to a speaker!
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3. Read Your Bible
In an attempt to not be a hypocrite, I will tell you that I have only been following my Bible reading plan for less than 24 hours. I spent one night and one morning in the Word. However, I can already feel and see the impact it is having on my mental health. And my mental health subsequently effects that of my future spouse.
This morning, I read the part of Genesis where the genealogy was explained. And in all honesty, I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t even pronounce a few of the names. But I still read. I still took that time and gave it to Jesus. And even though I was confused, my heart was at peace. Wedding planning is one of the most fun and stressful seasons of life. You need Jesus in it with you. And as much as we pray or attend church services or small group activities, a crucial part of our relationship with the Lord–understanding His heart–comes solely from reading the Bible.
Yes, we live in a hectic time where technology makes noises vye for our attention, but don't allow the chaos of today steal away time to get quiet, to be still, and to take in God's Word. If you need accountability, consider doing a Bible study with your fiance. It can be over the phone if you're long distance, or you two can make it a weekly coffee date where you bring your Bibles to your favorite coffee shop to talk about what you've read.
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4. Appreciate Your Fiance
My fiancé is literally something out of a fairytale. He leaves roses on my car, follows Jesus, and surprises me with chocolate. However, he’s not perfect. There are times when we get frustrated and mad and snippy with one another. But this season has taught me that I have a support system. It's also shown me that humans are humans, and no fairytale is written with perfect hands. (Especially if I just got angry at him because he wasn’t giving me his opinion or wasn’t paying close enough attention when I was telling him about the flowers for the wedding.)
In all honesty, ladies, we don’t let the men do much when it comes to the wedding. We simply tell them to nod their heads and agree with whatever we say, do, want, and pay for (sometimes with their money!). After all, I have had this day planned since I was 10 years old. I know exactly what I want, and as hard as he may try, my fiancé will never be able to understand what “Classy and elegant, but still modern” means. However, I can appreciate his effort to try (and enjoy a few laughs too). I can appreciate when he offers to call a DJ or plan the whole honeymoon. I can appreciate when he does the dishes or vacuums the floor because I am exhausted. I can even appreciate when he lets me get snippy with him and doesn’t say anything because he knows I’m stressed.
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5. Talk to the Older Generations
I was visiting my grandmother and talking to her about the stress of finances a few months ago. I told her I was worried because with me still in school and my fiancé being a fireman (who, by the way, does not get paid nearly enough) our finances were going to look a little rough for the first year or two. I didn’t want that stress to be on our new marriage, and I didn’t want it to cause problems. My grandmother looked at me and told me that when she and my grandfather followed the Army to Maryville, they were as broke as they had ever been. They had enough money to get groceries and that was it. To me, it sounded like a stressful time. But her eyes told me more than her words, that they were truly the happiest they had ever been during that time. They had each other, and they were on a new adventure together. They were following Jesus and trusting Him, and that was all that mattered.
Don’t get me wrong, I still worry about finances; it’s hard not to. But I think of my grandparents. They had a long marriage that stood the test of time and trials. One of my last memories of my grandfather before he passed away was actually at my great-grandmother’s house. My grandmother was watching her mom into the night as she was not doing well. My grandfather had come to sit with us, but it got late and someone needed to go home to tend to the animals and chores. He got up, walked over the my grandmother, slipped her house shoes back on her feet for her, kissed her, and left. Their marriage had more troubles than some will see in a lifetime, and it wasn’t by fault of their own. But my grandfather still slid Cinderella’s slippers on, and he still kissed his princess goodnight.
If their marriage can make it through the trials that it did, then I can trust when my grandmother tells me not to worry about the finances, they aren’t the most important thing. And I can listen to her when she gives me godly advice on how to foster a marriage.
The entire point of this article is to help you, friends. Take some stress off, enjoy your time and your fiancé, and thank Jesus that you found a good one in this crazy world.
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