The night that my future husband proposed to me was the greatest moment of my life.
But I won't paint you a fairytale picture. The night before my future husband proposed involved me attending a Los Angeles Kings home game, and asking his friends in front of him, "When is he gonna pop the question?" Then, in a moment I am not so proud of, I treated him to a full-out rendition of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in the middle of the street, singing at the top of my lungs, "if you like me then you should put a ring on it!"
Needless to say, I was ready to get engaged.
Our actual engagement the next day involved combat boots, no make-up and a Nirvana T-shirt, so in hindsight, perhaps I wasn't that ready. Regardless, it was a really special moment. I felt so silly about my actions the night before, but my fiancé laughed it off. We spent the entire night drinking champagne, re-telling our story to everyone on the other ends of our phones and admiring the beautiful ring he had designed for me.
After that, the fear set in.
It happens to us all when we become new brides. We all try to act calm and collected while we get our weekly light pink manicures. We all begin our engagements by saying, "I will never be like so and so" or "What's so hard about planning a wedding?" only to find out that planning a wedding is actually really difficult. I'm planning a super tiny backyard anti-wedding, and even that is proving to be more difficult than I ever imagined.
A few weeks after our engagement, I stopped falling asleep staring at my left hand and waking up with a big delicious, giddy smile on my face. I became normal again. I floated down from cloud nine, and back to cloud 7:30-am-alarm. Another girlfriend announced her engagement and my news was old news. My Facebook wall resumed its collection of home videos of cats and normal life. I began tweeting mostly about my dog again.
The only problem was that something about being engaged turned me into a hypercritic of my now-fiancé. We had dated for years and never actually had a fight (I know, I know.) My fiancé is an incredibly calm, easygoing person, and I hate confrontation, so we have a relationship that is very quiet and low-key. When we get angry at each other, we sort of move to separate rooms, and then re-emerge when we feel better. I really like my fiancé -- he's an incredible human being and my best friend. Our lack of drama never surprised me. We'd both had several drama-filled relationships before we got together, and we both felt that we were over that point in our lives.
But suddenly, after our engagement, something switched in my brain and I turned hypercritical and judgmental. I began to critique every single thing my fiancé did, from the time he woke up in the morning until the time he fell asleep at night. Of course, hating confrontation, I never said any of this to him out loud; I just stared at him like a zombie while my internal voice went nuts. It went something like this:
"His morning breath is the worst morning breath in the history of humans populating the earth. Am I really committing myself to smelling this smell first thing in the morning for the rest of my life? Has he always worn such wrinkly shirts to the office? How have I never noticed? My entire life is going to be spent ironing these horribly wrinkled shirts and I will have no time to go to Pilates classes! I will become the kind of woman who never takes off her sweatpants, and spends her entire life cleaning up after her horrible slob of a husband! Why does he have to shut to door so loudly? It's a door! How will I deal with the next 65 years of loud door closing? What will it be like when we have children and he cannot close a door properly? Our children will never sleep through the night! Our children will be unrested! They will fail miserably at school and I will be deemed the worst mother of all time by the other mothers in my child's class. My child will never amount to anything because my husband couldn't close a door properly! While looking at wedding ideas online one night, he showed me a Pinterest board that featured a yellow and white balloon arch. "I like that," he said. This marriage is doomed to fail! I am marrying a guy who wants there to be a yellow and white balloon arch involved!"
It went on and on like this for weeks. It wasn't just cold feet -- it was cold everything. I watched my fiancé with a detective's eye, stalking his every mannerism and move. People were sending us champagne and pretty cards, but all I could think about was how confused and frustrated I felt. Why was I being so hard on him all of a sudden? We had been together for years, and I was deeply in love with him. What was it about finally being engaged that had made me completely freak out?
Then the unthinkable happened. We had our first fight. The fight where I stayed the night somewhere else and didn't answer my phone. The fight that I now believe every couple should have before they get married. The fight where your relationship gets real and no amount of fancy tulle-lined congratulation cards or diamond rings can make it right.
Someone said to me "Keltie, it's just an engagement, you can always call it off."
In that moment something switched inside of me, and I knew that I could never call off our life together. By saying yes, I had made a commitment to loving him. If I was going to get to enjoy all the good parts, then I was going to have to deal with the food in his teeth. I was going to have to meet him halfway on the yellow balloon arch. After all, a life spent ironing his shirts would be a life I would love because they were HIS shirts. His flaws make me feel more comfortable with my own flaws. He is the best thing that has ever happened to my heart. I realized that all these tiny things were just my own fears manifesting themselves; that I had somehow made myself believe that I wasn't deserving of this great guy. We all have flaws, and an engagement or a wedding won't ever change them. We just have to decide if we love each other enough to love each other through the fights, and in spite of the wrinkled shirts.
What do you think brides? Have any of you experienced this post-engagement insanity? How did you overcome it?