I bet you didn’t expect to hear that engagement sucks from me, huh?
Dani came into my life when I was twenty-four and she was just twenty-two.
I was a twenty-four year old Chief Marketing Officer for a tech company out of Austin. She ran in the same circles in college but just two years behind me. I discovered her as I am sure many of you did. I absorbed the spirit of this wonderful human being from her vulnerability displayed on the internet every single day, at that time, to a much smaller crowd. She was stunning, but had self-esteem built up in something so much more.
I ABUSED MY POWER TO MEET DANI AUSTIN. I coordinated a photoshoot and asked her to be part of it. Sure, our company needed it, but we could have lived without it. Don’t give a twenty-four year old a budget. If you do, then expect for him to act with just a little bit of self-interest to push a personal agenda. In my case, that agenda was an elaborate plan to meet someone cute in the most inconspicuous way.
THAT WAS MY FIRST DAY WITH DANI AUSTIN. She became a friend. She became a best friend. She became a girlfriend.
I never knew the journey that would follow. Our lives were filled with adventure. We went to New York Fashion Week. We met Iris Apfel, who became a dear friend. We traveled to beaches and mountains and far away places. My nature resisted every bit of discomfort but her thirst for life kept me chasing her. Dani chased her dreams and I chased her. I chased my dreams and she chased me. I loved the chase. Life was a game and we were on the same team.
THEN SHE BECAME MY FIANCE. I wanted that day to be the start of our forever, but it almost became the end of it. The life that once was a grand adventure became the perfect storm. When I slid the ring onto her hand, I wanted to be at the destination. I explained that we could elope. I wanted to continue the adventure as one. I wanted to be teammates and keep laughing and crying through life together. I wanted to keep struggling and striving and falling in love daily. We were best friends and we had so much hope. We could keep the party going.
I was naive to believe this could be in light of the nightmare that is engagement.
1. a formal agreement to get married.
2. an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time.
3. the action of engaging or being engaged.
4. a fight or battle between armed forces.
There are a number of ways to look at the act and definition of engagement. I think the majority of us look at it with rose-tinted lenses and imagine it as a montage of beautiful moments with a great upbeat soundtrack. Cake tasting, families coming together, planning a future together, anticipation, excitement, butterflies, and roses. Most of us look at engagement as definition one through three. I did too. But let me tell you that our engagement became more of definition four. A fight between two armed and opinionated forces.
I am about to reveal something that is rarely discussed or talked about here.
ENGAGEMENT SUCKS. I am going to share with you the top four difficult areas of engagement:
PATIENCE: Dani and I are both very action-oriented individuals. When we want something we are going to go out there and get it. We like to act fast and do not believe in procrastination. The instant gratification of seeing a dream or idea come to life has conditioned us to both be quite impatient people. When I made up my mind and vowed to love Dani Austin forever on the rooftop with our families I wanted to do that now. I wanted all of the joys that I see in marriage with my best friend and I wanted them now. I did not account for a ten-month speed bump in between. In fact, I wanted to just elope. Engagement is a necessary process of delayed satisfaction that will enforce on you the virtue of patience. For some it will be a period of patience in buying versus renting, in career growth, in controlling tempers or frustrations, in patience with people like in-laws, and more. Patience will root itself in you during this period and I tend to believe that God designed it that way because it is an extremely necessary skill for marriage. For us it also prolonged physical intimacy that I quite frankly want ASAP. Sue me for wanting to pounce on this hottie on the daily.
WEDDING PLANNING: I personally hate ceremonies. I have just never seen the value in them. I skipped my high school graduation because I graduated early. I skipped my college graduation because of traffic. My rationale is that we should be celebrating and flexing gratitude for small victories on what we are trying to accomplish daily instead of one momentous occasion. This is entirely personal preference, and to be fair, I haven’t met too many others that share this quirk. But when I mentioned eloping immediately after engagement I was not kidding. Wedding are expensive and logistically very difficult. There are so many moving pieces and I had always heard that brides and grooms barely could even eat during them. I did not want to plan it because I made my vow on that LA rooftop. But I have also learned that you cannot take away a day that most women dream of their entire lives. It was an easy concession but a harder task to follow through with. Wedding planning is filled with teachable moments. It is a series of character challenges that present themselves as small decisions. She likes this cake, I like that cake. How do we make a decision without escalation? Is this something really worth fighting all Friday night for? Wedding planning will take you through a journey of understanding how the other processes decisions and the differences in what you value in an experience or life. Heck, you will even assess who you both want to be in your life for the long-haul through something horrible called a guest list. As a couple you will have to work through small things and I am a believer it prepares you for the big ones that are inevitably going to come in this life.
FINANCES: Weddings are very expensive endeavors and so is planning your life with someone. Maybe you are deciding on a downpayment. Maybe you have to pay for the wedding itself. Maybe you are thinking about new furniture. Maybe just one of you works and the other doesn’t. There are so many questions when it comes to assuming the responsibility for someone else for richer or for poorer. Going into engagement you have two of everything. You have two leases probably, two bank accounts, two health insurance policies, etc. But engagement is a process of merging all of these two into one. It doesn’t just snap together as if it were meant to be. You have to put it together like a puzzle. Similar to cake tasting, you have to question why nail appointments are important or why your daily coffee fix can’t be done at home instead of your spot. There are differing opinions on what is important and valuable to the other. As engagement goes on, I become increasingly more thankful for the ten month period that I once hated. It has helped us to build budgets together, often line by line. It has allowed for us to slowly merge our accounts and really define our financial goals. With one of the main causes for divorce being financially based I would cherish the slow and prayerful process of managing your money together.
EXPECTATION: Speaking of divorce I was reading that the rate is over fifty percent today in the U.S. That is outrageously high. I’m not here to diagnose every societal woe that goes into that epidemic but I can speak about a large contributing factor called expectation. This is the final point that I want to close on. The expectations that we have of another person. The expectation that we have for the home we will live in. The expectation of income. The expectation we have for ease. The expectation we have for chores. The expectation that we have for life. Most of these expectations lurk deep within our subconscious and are not known by ourselves, much less our spouse. They may have been created by how we were raised, past relationships, or the environment we were raised in. When our expectation for life does not come to fruition, the first person that we will turn to blame is our spouse. That is what the divorce rate tells me. Engagement is a period to “find the foxes”, those sneaky subconscious ideals or expectations that we believe our spouse will fulfill. Instead of expectation, practice gratitude. Expectation is taking inventory of what you do not have. Gratitude is taking inventory of what you do have. Use engagement to learn gratitude and put to death the expectation that will be the thief of your joy. In doing so I bet your expectations are either met or redefined nearly entirely.
There were times within engagement when I wondered what happened to the twenty-two year old Dani that had the thirst for life that I fell in love with. I thought God was using the logistics, the stress and strain, the financial pressure, and the decisions to break us. But he was using it to protect us. He was putting us through a time to prepare us for a life of selflessness to one another. He was disrupting my expectations so that I could truly have joy with this wonderful soul he brought to me. Engagement will put everything that you know to the test. You will be stretched and challenged. You will have to flex muscles you have either never worked or have not in a long time. But each step of the way God is preparing and purposefully crafting a story that starts on your wedding day. A day all about two becoming one.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, or in sickness and in health I am sticking with my girl.
Jordan Joseph Ramirez