I recently had the same conversation with two different friends on the verge of engagement. As excited as they were, both expressed hesitation with a next step because there is no ring yet. The ring is a promise, but what I felt as a single woman and what I am learning several others do as well is that once you have the ring on your finger, than you have the security of that person. In a way it does lend gratification & security- they have chosen you, invested financially and are ready to declare to the world their commitment to you, but that’s not the end of it- at least not in my first year of marriage.
As I sat across from one of my dear friends the other night at dinner, listening to, “once we are engaged, then I could…” or “I just think once we are engaged than I will be able to relax because I know where we fully stand.” I get it- I do- I thought the same exact thing. As I listened to my younger, eager friend share, I apologized once she was done and bursted her bubble.
That feeling of “once I have the ring than I will feel…” doesn’t go away- it simply changes. Once those milestones are obtained you then live in the next season- you never get the previous one back and the new season has obstacles all of its own. The change that transpires is no longer a feeling of “once this happens than this will happen”, but becomes a question of now that I have all this, how do I keep this and continue to grow it? The lack of security fear transitions to a fear of how to keep it.
I say fear loosely because it is the most likened word to the emotion of pre-engagement, but for me it’s very much a cognitive thought now: I have this amazing man, we have a great new marriage, how do I pursue him, love him better, care for him, learn more about him, honor him, support him and pray for him? No couple (I hope not at least) goes into marriage with the thought process of seeing their new and exciting commitment become one that is stale, full of bitterness and dead of passion, but it happens. We see it in our society much more frequently than we do the couples who date each other continuously, who are still crazy about one another after 47 years of marriage and the ones that have seen it through for better or worse.
The first marriages haunt me- the ones that are 10, 15 or 25 years in and they just “die.” The ones where a spouse comes home and serves the other papers, the ones of infidelity- years of lies, the ones that people just co-habitate and function in the same house with the same name, yet share no life between them. But if we asked each of those couples walking through those “marriages” I bet they would tell you that it didn’t just happen overnight… there seems to be a shock to wake up and find that this the reality. “How did we get here?”
A ring doesn’t equal relational security, nor does it give you any further advantage to a better relationship, wedding or marriage. It is a symbol of your commitment, your vows to the other person. From the experience of countless other couples and even my first year in, the excellent marriages come from having a Christ centered relationship, choosing to pursue your partner daily, agreeing to remove words from your vocabulary that are hurtful or threatening, dating your spouse, investing in their hopes, dreams, passions and ambitions, respecting one another, trusting each other and picking your battles. I’m sure there are many more- but ladies a word of encouragement: Enjoy the season of dating/ engagement, but prepare yourself that you never arrive, you simply get the opportunity to now pursue your husbands heart for the rest of your life.