Posts Tagged engagement

On Waiting

12/23/10 - Chicago Union Station after getting engaged

Around this time last year I was anxiously waiting. I can’t even explain the emotions I felt, but anyone who has waited for something good and exciting to come–a specific thing–knows the feeling I’m talking about. Lisa Velthouse‘s recent blog post reminded me of those feelings. She captured my thoughts perfectly as she wrote:

“…with all of my breath I have been waiting. Wishing. Wanting. Hoping. Praying that it would happen. And what I have been telling myself is that if this something were to come true it might possibly change my whole life for the better.”

The event I was waiting for was a marriage proposal. I knew it was coming soon because I knew Gerald had talked to my parents about it around Thanksgiving. He probably shouldn’t have given me so much detail because that made the waiting harder. I knew he was looking for an engagement ring because we’d shopped for one together. I knew we were going on a series of dates around Christmas time so I wouldn’t know when the actual proposal was coming (sneaky, but it drove me crazy with anticipation). I was putting so much hope and anticipation for the day I would get engaged knowing that moment would change my life forever and feeling like my life would somehow be more complete once it happened.

Well, that proposal came. We got engaged on December 23, 2010–a year ago today. The event was actually a little anti-climactic because I didn’t even realize what was happening until Gerald practically told me in the poem he wrote. I didn’t have those feelings of anticipation right before because I was being grumpy in the car on the way to the proposal site. If I had known what was going to happen, my attitude would’ve been completely different.

With Christmas just a few days away and the season of Advent coming to an end, we remember God coming to earth in the form of a baby. Since that first Christmas, we’re now also supposed to be anticipating Christ’s return to Earth as the conquering king. Advent is supposed to remind us to look toward that future coming with great expectations. We know what’s going to happen (read Revelation), but we don’t seem to care as much.

I’ll admit that I don’t often think about Christ’s Second Coming, nor do I wait anxiously for it to arrive. Instead, I’m more focused on what I have going on in my everyday life and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Christ’s return seems so far away, and yet we’re told that He can come at any time when we least expect it. I’m not sure if I’ll feel the same kind of anxious anticipation about Christ’s return as I did about getting engaged, but I think if I try to focus my attention on things with eternal value, I will be desiring and anticipating that return with more urgency and with greater expectation.

For with engagement came joy, but also stresses and more hard work; but with Christ’s return all the wrongs in this world will finally be made right. And then our lives will truly be made whole.

So what are you waiting for?

Merry Christmas!

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Before the Ring

 I heard a little commentary on the radio this week talking about the benefits of pre-engagement counseling. Some people may think it sounds strange to do pre-engagement counseling. but if you’re in your 20’s or older, shouldn’t all the relationships you’re in be taken seriously? If you’re not dating to see if you could marry the person, then why date in the first place?

Gerald and I did pre-engagement counseling either in our first year of dating or slightly after (I can’t remember). At the time though we didn’t actually call it pre-engagement counseling. We met with our pastor (before he actually became our pastor), who had a counseling degree, and he took us through some relationship exercises. One of the main areas we looked at was communication because we’d been arguing a lot and we wanted to fix this.

Here are some benefits of pre-engagement counseling that I’ve discovered (my husband may share my thoughts or have additional ones):

1. We learned about each other’s values. You may know some of your signficant other’s values from dating the person and spending time with him/her, but when we actually had to sit down and think about how we view family, spiritual life, finances (though we skipped this part because we weren’t actually engaged), etc, it helped us to begin to see how our personal values fit together. We’re shaped by our own families, which can be challenging when you marry someone who does things differently and in ways you’re not used to doing them. So we became more aware of these differences in pre-engagement counseling, but once we were engaged, began to see how we could compromise and work together to take our differences and create our own family culture.

2. We learned to communicate better. As I mentioned before, Gerald and I had an argumentative period during our dating relationship. Some people might decide at this point that the relationship is too hard and that we’re too different for this to work, but we decided to stick with it and work through our problems. It’s easy being reminded of active listening and really hearing what the person is trying to say, but it’s harder to put it into practice. During our counseling sessions, our pastor would often ask questions like, “What do you most appreciate about Gerald?” and have me look at Gerald and talk to him as I responded. This was a great exercise because it forced us to actually sit down, look each other in the eyes, and say things to each other that we either don’t communicate as often as we should. At times it made me emotional, but so often we would just say things to each other in passing or on the phone. There’s nothing like telling someone something face-to-face. We also learned how to argue and resolve conflict while  dating, which has resulted in less conflict in marriage (so far).

3. We became better prepared for engagement. Getting engaged is a huge step. I wanted it to happen since our first dating anniversary, but it was also scary to think about at the same time. We both took engagement seriously because we take marriage seriously. Marriage is for life. By going through some counseling sessions during our dating years, we saw that we were both committed to the relationship and wanted to make it work. We were also encouraged by hearing from other married couples in our church about how they’ve been encouraged by our relationship. This gave us more confirmation that God was leading us toward marriage. We’d been meeting with our pastor and his wife every so often while dating, but we actually only had one official “pre-engagement counseling session” before actually getting engaged. Then it became pre-martial counseling. We also met separately with a husband and wife from church when we started dating as a mentoring/accountability relationship. Those meetings were invaluable and guided us through our three years of dating.

I don’t think every dating couple needs to have pre-engagement counseling, but if you are thinking about getting engaged or think your relationship is heading that way, I would recommend it. Pre-engagement counseling provides the opportunity to evaluate and look at your relationship in an objective way (since you’re not already committed to marriage through an engagement ring). Although it would still be painful, it’s still better to get out of the relationship before the ring rather than after it’s already on her finger (and even better than after you say “I do”). Pre-engagement counseling also shows how highly you both value marriage. You believe it’s important enough to make sure you’re both prepared to get engaged. Pre-marital counseling is important too, but it can be challenging to go through those meetings all while planning a wedding. It’s stressful! So the sooner you can be preparing for marriage (even before the ring), the better off your relationship will be. Whether or not you actually marry the person you’re dating, the pre-engagement counseling will save you both extra heartache.

Do you think pre-engagement counseling is helpful? Would you consider doing pre-engagement sessions? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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Four Years

Today is Gerald and my 4-year dating anniversary. It’s hard to believe that now we’re coming up on our 3-month wedding anniversary. We’ve both certainly changed and grown a lot since we first began dating.

One Year Dating Anniversary

Our Second Year Together

Dinner for our 3rd anniversary

Gerald on our 3rd anniversary

Our Wedding Day

A year ago today (or around this time), I remember feeling hopeful anticipation. Gerald and I had been looking at engagement rings for a little while, so I was MAYBE hoping he would propose (and quickly figured out he wasn’t going to when we had a discussion about it that night that left me disappointed but with a better timeline). A lot of my preoccupation with wondering when we’d get engaged (and hoping it would be sooner rather than later) was my impatience and my need to plan everything. I was thinking we’d have to get engaged in either December or January if we wanted to have a 6-month engagement because I knew Gerald wanted to get married during the summer (but I wasn’t sure which summer).

All my questioning about timing and proposals put a lot of pressure on Gerald. He felt like I wasn’t trusting him with all this, and ultimately I wasn’t trusting God’s timing in it all. I felt like I should’ve been married or at least engaged by then (I actually suggested to him on our first anniversary that maybe by our second anniversary he could propose…that didn’t happen). Even though three years felt like a long time to be dating, in those few years, God grew us both in our ability to communicate with one another (and to work out conflicts), in our friendship with one another, and in our relationships with Him. I know I learned a lot more about what it meant to love someone during our dating years. It made me realize how naive I was about relationships when we started dating (and I was even out of college by then!).

So all that to say, the waiting was worth it. We could’ve gotten married earlier and probably been fine, but as we weathered the ups and downs of life together over several years, we learned more about each other and the joys of serving God together. I think it made us better prepared for marriage. People also have told me that couples who don’t argue a lot while they’re dating tend to argue more once married and people who argue a lot while dating argue less once they’re married. So far that seems to be true for us. Gerald and I argued a lot sometimes while we were dating, but we’ve only had one big argument so far since getting married. By now I think we’ve just figured out how to resolve conflict (through lots of practice in our dating years), that we’ve already worked out a lot of those issues. I know arguments will still come, but hopefully we can employ some of the tactics we learned from premarital counseling to argue well (from John Gottman’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work).

This is no longer an anniversary we’re really going to celebrate (we’re waiting for our first wedding anniversary now), but I’m still wishing Gerald a happy four years together. I’m looking forward to many more to come!

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Goodbye, Single Life!

This is going to be a quick entry, because I’m getting married TOMORROW!! I still can’t really believe that the wedding’s tomorrow. It doesn’t feel like it to me. Gerald and I were talking and we think it’s because we’re still in the planning/preparing mode. So especially for someone like me who loves to plan, it’s almost like just getting ready for another event. After tonight though when everything’s done and I have nothing left to plan or prepare, I think it will hit me more. I’m really excited about everything and just to see how it will all come together though!

I won’t post any pictures yet of the decorations and other shots from prep week, but my cousin Justine is amazing at decorating and all the place cards Melissa designed look great on the screen we have at the reception. 🙂 You’ll just have to wait to either see it in person or for the pictures.

This morning started out with a great run (my last one as Christy Wong–I realized now in races I’m going to have to put my new name!). Now I have to start cooking for the bridesmaid brunch I’m hosting at my condo and then we get to go get pampered by getting mani/pedis before the rehearsal tonight.

Still, even with all the time and money that goes into this one day, I know that it’s only the beginning. Marriage is more than just the wedding day and Gerald and I are looking forward to sharing this life together.

If you have any marriage advice, feel free to share! 🙂

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The Proposal

On December 8, 2004 (my 20th birthday), this is what I wrote in my journal:

So I’ve thought about it and in 10 years I’ll be 30…wow. A lot can change in your life during 10 years. I feel like the changes between 20 and 30 are the most drastic ones too.

Here’s my plan: I find a guy this year and we date for 2 years then get engaged. By that time, I’ll have graduated from school and been out for about a year. Then I get married at least before I’m 25. Or by the time I’m 25. Then I have my first child before I’m 30.

I wrote all this back when I was a sophomore in college who never had a boyfriend (I never dated until after college…though there were a couple opportunities). So even as I wrote those words, it all seemed unimaginable because I wasn’t sure if and how any of that would happen.

Already, I didn’t meet that goal of getting married by the time I’m 25, but I’m not going to be too far off from that goal. It’s like God continuing to show me that I need to trust Him with timing and to let things go according to His plans, not my own.

We're engaged!!

On December 23, 2010, Gerald asked me to be his wife! These past few weeks have also shown me how just as I need to trust God with His plans, I need to trust Gerald too. I knew the proposal was coming soon. Gerald told me the ring was my birthday and Christmas gift, so I was anxiously expecting it. It was sooo hard to not be able to tell anyone about our engagement because it wasn’t official and I really wanted to start planning, but felt like I couldn’t do that yet (I’m such a planner anyway).

Gerald knows that about me, so he gave me a few days to keep open because we were going to go on special dates so I wouldn’t know exactly when he’d propose. It could’ve been any one of those days. For the first of these dates, we went to see Wicked then ate at Flat Top Grill and then went to the mall to look at rings. I was a little disappointed because I knew he still didn’t have the ring yet then. It was really hard to trust that he would find one because I felt like he was running out of time. I have a really small ring size (4) and some jewelers said it takes 2-6 weeks to custom make the ring to my size if they’re not able to resize it. Gerald and I already talked about getting married in July 2011 before we even got engaged, so I told him that he could always get a temporary ring until the real one came in.

So our next date was Dec. 23 and the night before Gerald told me not to get my expectations up too high. So I was still kind of disappointed because I’d have to wait longer and I thought he either still hadn’t found the right ring or was waiting for it to be sized and to come in. Our plan was to meet up at my parents’ house and then go downtown.

When we met up late in the afternoon, Gerald told me that he had a gift for me that day because he didn’t want me to be too disappointed. I asked if it was for my birthday and Christmas and he said it was “part of it.” So I didn’t really suspect anything.

Right when we left the house, he told me to close my eyes because he was going to take me somewhere before we went to catch the train to Chicago. I did it, and I still didn’t really think anything of it. I was actually a little grumpy in the car because I was trying to drink the coffee he bought me with my eyes closed and ended up spilling a little bit of it on myself. I was also too busy thinking about if we were going to make it to the train on time (curse that planning mind of mine sometimes). I needed to trust Gerald on this one!

When we finally got to our destination, Gerald led me through the snow up to a gazebo. He told me to open my eyes and to look at him but not look around. I had no idea where I was, but then he handed me three roses, one for every year we’d been together so far. I saw a Starbucks cup sitting on the ground and asked if that was my coffee, but he was like, “Don’t worry about that right now.” Obviously I still didn’t know what was going on at this point.

Getting down on one knee - pic from Tiffany's cell phone

Then he started to read a poem that he wrote for me. Even as he started reading it, I STILL had no idea he was proposing even though the poem started out talking about diamonds! Gerald read poems to me before on dating anniversaries, so I didn’t think it was out of the ordinary until he said “of course following this poem I must ask you the question.” FINALLY I started cluing in as to what was going on. So of course, I start tearing up as he’s reading the rest of the poem.

When he’s done, Melissa, my sister, comes out with our pug, Lexie. Gerald reaches down to take a ring off Lexie’s collar, but it’s this big plastic heart-shaped ring. I’m like, “What is that?” It was slightly disappointing, but then Gerald reached down and picked up the Starbucks cup and said something about how every cup of Starbucks has something special inside (I love Starbucks, so it’s fitting for me). Then he pulled out the ring box and opened it revealing a

The rock. It's just what I wanted!

beautiful engagement ring. 🙂 And he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes!

Then our friends Pearson and Tiffany came out from the bushes and kept taking more pictures. Only after we’d taken some pictures the Christmas lights in the gazebo finally came on. I couldn’t believe Gerald had actually found a ring (since he hadn’t had one only 5 days earlier) and that we just got engaged. It still feels a little surreal. 🙂 This just goes to show me that I should’ve trusted that Gerald had everything under control–because he did. It’s something I have to continue to work on as we go into our marriage. The same goes for trusting God with the timing of all those significant events in my life.

We missed our train, but we caught the next one downtown and went to eat at Grand Luxe Cafe. Then we came back to my parents’ house and celebrated with my family (at like 11:45 pm). It was a long, but great night. Gerald and I and our families are very excited about our future marriage. One of our pastors even announced it to the whole church at our Christmas Eve service the next day!

And now begins the fun wedding planning part. So if you have any great creative ideas, let me know!

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