The day Dennis proposed to me was probably the most romantic and surreal day in my entire life. I was over-the-moon-happy and wanted to keep pinching myself that this wonderful man would choose me above all other women.
But the actual engagement period was not as joyous. I’m not saying that to scare anyone away from it, and to be honest, the majority of couples who I have spoken with do not feel the same way I did about their engagement in the least. But let me tell you why I didn’t enjoy it all the same.
While it was super exciting to talk about being married and plan for being married and even go through hypothetical situations in my head about what it will be like when we’re married…. it felt like an in-between place that, to be blunt, was pretty uncomfortable. We weren’t married yet, but we certainly weren’t just dating anymore. So what changes now? What is the purpose of engagement? What do I do?!?!
I was highly confused.
Dennis and I, in the end, got married a lot sooner than we originally had planned. Actually, it was a year sooner. We scheduled it on the day of my already pre-scheduled family reunion (my aunt’s idea), knowing full well that I would be involved a 4-week-long intensive internship for 4 out of the 6 weeks that we planned it, and that Dennis and I would be camping with his family, most of whom I had not met yet, for the week preceding the wedding. I’m aware that some of my family probably thought we were pregnant, or at least slightly insane, and I am aware that I stressed out my very methodical parents during the process of planning a wedding away from their home in only a few weeks. But all the same, I’m glad we didn’t wait a year and a half. (And I hope the amazingly fun wedding day we had made up for the stress anyone felt!)
After speaking with some older and wiser “seasoned” married couples, we decided that for us, the purpose of the engagement was to plan the wedding and search out a place for us to live when we came back from the honeymoon. We didn’t need a whole lot of time in order to do that. For others, the purpose of the engagement might be to go through a premarital counseling program or to save money in order to pay for the wedding and reception, or… to do something else.
When Dennis and I met, we were both not following Christ. But, long story short, and by the Grace of God, I came to know Jesus, and Dennis went back to his Faith. When we were both walking with The Lord, we felt convicted by some of the sin we were living in, and we worked hard, yet very imperfectly, to change that.
I am grateful that our relationship was long distance while we were engaged, because it allowed us to both work on our relationship with The Lord first and foremost. It also did not allow the opportunity for us to have what I call a “play-marriage”. This is when a couple lives together and essentially shares all of the benefits and burdens of being married without actually making that covenant before The Lord.
I know that having a “play-marriage” would have been very detrimental to the both of us because it would simulate a commitment that we haven’t truly made yet, and I think it would have broken us up in the end. For Dennis and I, I was grateful that we waited to move in together, share financial obligations, talk about one another as being “one flesh”, and other such “married people” things until AFTER we got married. It made the marriage more meaningful to us both, and I know that’s the way God intended it to be.
Again, I want to stress that I am by no means condemning those that don’t do it like Dennis and I did. I simply am expressing what I was grateful for in our engagement process. I know what the Word of God says about marriage, and I know what Dennis and I were called to do by the Holy Spirit, and that’s all I can really say without knowing you personally and your circumstance. You may have been called to something else by God, and that’s between you and Him (aka, none of my business). So please don’t think I look down on anyone who did things differently!
My purpose in telling you a little about my own engagement story is so that you understand my prayer. Because my prayer for engaged couples will no-doubt be colored by my own experience; it’s all I have. If you are engaged, I hope that you will accept my prayer for you, knowing and trusting that God knows what you truly need, and so He will decide which parts of my prayer apply to you.
I pray for the couples who are engaged to be married right now. Specifically I pray for my cousin and her fiancée, and their beautiful child, for my sister-in-law and her husband-to-be, for Dennis’s friends who will be married over this summer and next year, and for our mutual friends who will get married in August, just a few weeks before our own 3-year anniversary. I know that You know their names, ‘O God, and I’m sure they will know who they are upon reading this prayer. I pray You remind them that they have people praying and fasting for them specifically and that You help them recognize their need for this kind of focused prayer.
God, allow them to enjoy this exciting time in their life, but also show them how to take these next steps towards marriage seriously. Help them grow stronger in their relationship with You so that when they are married, they have a foundation in Your Word and character.
Allow them to envision their lives as living as “One Flesh”, as you have designed marriage to be, but please Lord, don’t let them get ahead of themselves. The actual wedding day and the commitment made on that day can seem less important and meaningful than it truly is if the couple has already been considering themselves married before they are. I pray for patience Lord, as this time of engagement can be a time of waiting and anxiety.
For those planning their wedding, I pray for Your hand to protect them from the desire to please everyone. Lord, I pray that they only be interested in pleasing You, and that they not be caught up in the temptation to become stressed or irritable in these financial plans and preparations. Don’t allow them to loose sight of what it truly important, but instead, give them focus on the marriage covenant rather than the little details of the wedding day. The wedding day will come and go, Lord, but it is Your will that the marriage covenant will last a lifetime.
Father, give the future brides and grooms comfort in knowing that Your blessing is upon them that seek your Will. Prompt them to pray for the marriage and for one another. Prepare their hearts as they continue to grow closer to their marriage date. Mold them into the husband and wife You want them to be for one another specifically.
It is in Jesus Christ’s name, the one who teaches us how to pray and how to love one another, that I pray. Amen.
What advice would you give Christians who are newly engaged?