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What To Expect During Engagement

What To Expect During Engagement

Every phase of a relationship has its own joys and challenges–singleness, dating, engagement, and marriage. I recently transitioned from “In a relationship” to “Engaged” on Facebook. The newness of it all since the proposal has dimmed some, but the question has lingered, “Now what?! I’ve never made it this far before!”

For those of you who have, kudos! But for the rest of us, here are some things to know about this new landscape that has opened up in our relationship.

1. There’s a lot of planning

I don’t know if anyone has told you, but engagement is the time of preparation for marriage, primarily planning the wedding! I went into engagement grossly underestimating just how much planning goes into a wedding (and ours is by no means extravagant!). There are so many choices that must be made, so go ahead and brace yourself. Yes, it is a stressful process, but it is also the greatest joy because you are PLANNING YOUR WEDDING!!! It’s finally happening, and you get to decide what color palette to use, what kind and color of flowers to use, where to get a venue… and it’s for you and your spouse-to-be!

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Tip to the dudes from a currently engaged dude: Man up and get involved in the planning process. Your partner needs you (and wants you) to participate–now is not the time to slack off. Jump in with both feet and help your partner out because there’s a lot to be done.

2. There’s a lot of intimacy

The greatest thing about the engagement period is that a whole new level of intimacy opens up between you and your spouse-to-be. The deepest parts of your personalities surface–especially in stressful situations like planning–and you get the chance to learn each other on such a deep level. My fiancée and I are becoming so much closer as we are on the planning path to becoming one. I am growing to love her so much more as we begin the process of building a life together, and it is a beautiful thing. Relish this moment and this season of engagement because it will be stressful, but it will be some of the sweetest time with your future Mr. or Mrs.

3. There’s a lot of family

I’ve heard it said many times, “You don’t marry INTO the family, you marry THE FAMILY!” but I never realized exactly what that meant until engagement. Kels (my fiancée) and I had to spend quite a while coordinating with both of our families to set a date that worked well for them–talk about a task! There is also more involvement from both of our families as we are knitting them both together. Kels and I even talked about how to share holidays between our families–THAT’S a new concept for me.

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Don’t expect the welding of two families to be an easy process–there are two very different cultures of people being united into one. Just like it takes time for two people to get to know each other and learn how to interact with each other, it is the same with families. Have patience and boatloads of grace.

4. There’s a lot of compromise

I’m not a particularly opinionated person, but I still have preferences on occasion. Kels, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants (even if she doesn’t actually want it…) and I love her for it. Throughout our relationship we have had some disagreements, but even more so during engagement because there are so many more decisions and opinions that go into planning a wedding. But alas, all is not lost! There is a solution to the disagreements. Learn how to compromise with each other. And I don’t mean you each get half of what you want (although sometimes that works). Often it means being willing to say, “You know what, let’s go with your preference.”

There are two kinds of compromise–one of which is an imposter. The first kind (the imposter) approaches a disagreement with the attitude “Well, if I can’t have it all my way, I may as well get it half-way.” This is selfish. It doesn’t solve anything. It just leaves two people unhappy. The real compromise approaches disagreement with the attitude “I want us both to be happy. I’m willing to give up what I want to make that happen.” This method solves problems, and it is a valuable skill to learn for marriage (if you haven’t learned it already!).

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5. There’s a lot of doubt

If you aren’t sure that you want to marry the person you are dating, don’t get engaged. Engagement is not an extended time to see if you want to marry someone. It is a time of planning a marriage and starting the process of becoming one. That being said, I knew Kels was the woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life before I got down on one knee. But during our engagement she and I have both experienced moments of doubt and fear and insecurity–marriage is a scary thing! We will be spending THE REST OF OUR LIVES together. I will only be married to HER. And she will only be married to ME.

If that doesn’t give you pause, you haven’t thought about it enough. It’s a HUGE decision. So anticipate some doubt, but don’t let that scare you away. Sometimes you need to make a decision and stick with it. I would encourage everyone to step into engagement with certainty, and then be faithful to the person to whom you have made the pledge of commitment.

6. There’s a lot of joy

Many of these tips seem to have a negative vibe to them, but don’t think for a second that engagement is a drag. As a man currently in the engagement phase, I can tell you that, even with all of its challenges, it is the greatest joy and privilege and adventure of my life. I am stoked out of my mind to be marrying Kels. I am blown away that she is willing to spend the rest of her life building a life with me. Relationships are hard. Engagement is hard. Life is hard. But it is totally worth every moment. I am growing more in love with Kels each and every day–and dang is she getting more beautiful every day, too! I can’t wait to marry her, live in the same house as her, wake up to her, laugh with her, cry with her, get sick with her (it happened this last weekend!), have children with her, raise those children with her… and the list goes on. I have found my treasure, and I’m going to treat her like the precious jewel she is.

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7. There’s a lot of everything

As you may have noticed from reading, or from personal experience, engagement just has a lot of everything. A lot of smiles. A lot of tears. A lot of planning. A lot of intimacy. Just a lot. Everything is amplified during this beautiful season–both good and bad. Roll with the punches. See it all as an awesome adventure. Even the bad things will be fond memories when you look back on it. Because it’s totally worth it.

Featured photo credit: Lemuel Cantos via flickr.com

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Austen Broome

Social Media/Public Relations Manager and Copywriter for Liquid Creative

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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