All the single ladies. Listen up.
Being engaged is something that (typically) only happens once in your life, which means that you may not know what to do, how to feel, or straight up may just be horrible at dealing with the things you experience for the first time as an engaged person. With all the focus on the “Big Day,” the engagement is passed over without acknowledging its significance. The fact is that no one is an expert at being engaged, because it’s a relatively short period of time in peoples’ lives and- as previously stated- it only happens once.
Long before we were engaged, Jason and I knew we wanted to get married. Before there were any rings on these fingers, we had already secured and paid a deposit on our wedding venue, met with a photographer, and I had gone dress shopping. It was a done deal, which also meant- in my mind- that we were pretty much set to be married.
I could not have been more wrong.
The trouble with being an engaged woman is the stigma attached to it. There is an unwritten law that an engaged woman should be happy, excited, eager to show her ring to the world, enthusiastic about wedding planning… and yes, I do experience those feelings from time to time. But to be completely frank, the emotions plaguing my life recently have been anxiety, doubt, confusion, frustration, and even regret. To top it off, all of my shameful emotions are wrapped up neatly in an immense blanket of guilt for not being the starry-eyed bride I’m supposed to be.
I have slowly been opening up about my deep, dark struggle. In doing so, I’ve been surprised to learn that other women- happily married women whom I respect deeply- shared my sentiment. They also had their own fantasies of being the Runaway Bride, or felt that same stinging guilt for comparing their fiance to other people, or daydreamed about what they could be doing with their lives if they weren’t getting married. It was like finding a group of women who closeted their difficult engagements… and it is amazing. It is wonderful to know that I’m not alone in my helplessness and that solid marriages and partnerships can follow such tumultuous engagements.
And so that gets me wondering…
Why are women NOT talking about this?
Do we live in an age that still holds onto predetermined gender expectations so tightly that we cannot admit that some engaged women may not be perpetually giddy with joy? If anyone would have taken a few moments to tell me that being engaged could mean sleepless nights or a few moments of emotional unrest, I may have been a bit jarred at first, but eventually grateful for these hard-hitting nuggets of wisdom. Aside from being engaged not being all roses, my greatest disappointment is the fact that women are not chewing on the real meat of being engaged. Being in a place as traditional as China has made me appreciate women’s progressive position in society in the States. However, I find it tragic that these seemingly normal feelings about being engaged stay unaddressed and are wrought with guilt and shame for women simply because of an imposed idea of being engaged.
I still am convinced that there is no such thing as an engagement expert. We probably all retire engagement rookies. But I do know this. Being engaged can be a terrifying and stressful time, but it also is an amazing opportunity for growth and training for married life. Contrary to what we’ve been taught (Carrie and Aidan on Sex and the City, Meg Ryan and Bill Pullman in Sleepless in Seattle, and the list goes on), shaky engagements don’t always end disastorously. My engagement has taught me that I lack faith in many things, G.d shows his strength in the most unexpected and amazing ways, Jason has an infinite supply of patience, and that women are still so tragically silenced by the expectations placed upon them.
On October 8, 2010, I will have the great privilege of becoming Jason’s wife. I’m sure there will be plenty more bumps on the way there, and countless mountains after. I remain faithful in what we are building now in our engagement. I remain hopeful in the courage and strength of women– engaged, married, and of course… the single ladies, too.
Jason and me in Honolulu, Summer 2006