ON THE PURPOSE OF ENGAGEMENT -- PART 1
This is an excerpt "being engaged" from this thread.
Engagement to me is a serious time of reflection and discernment and assessment. It is not entered into lightly.
Deciding what is for dinner is one thing.
Deciding a major life change? That's another thing
I feel like some people don't know how to best use their engagement times. Or that there even ARE engagement times beyond the one that comes before marriage.
So weird to me. How could I live my life as I want to live it -- captain of my of life destiny -- if I don't take time outs to engage and plan my life strategy?
Just gonna... wing it?
Winging it for a day is one thing.
Winging it for my life is another.
2) Probably NRE and the high of a great weekend.
3) Listen to yourself -- you are worried about being too LOVING? The world should have these problems! *hug* There is nothing wrong with love.
4) This is the crux of your stressy, I think:
- You are right to consider if you got engaged too young at 21.
- You are right to consider if being engaged to your first relationship ever is really the guy you want to be engaged to
- This is what being engaged in contemplating a serious life choice like marriage is FOR.
You know... to ENGAGE in serious thinking about a pending life choice. To commit to talks about it, visiting with each other's people, etc.
You don't have to break it off because you have concern or doubt. So what? You just have to THINK. How long did you set your engagement for? Mine had an initial check point to start (a year) and then the soft limit got adjusted as we learned what we learned as engaged people.
Will you be attending any "before you get married" classes at your house of worship, your county extension office, online, wherever? These are set up to help you engage in serious conversations with your intended -- esp if your family of origin(s) are not especially great at giving young adults guidance.
If it turns out not to be the right fit -- well, then you announce at the end of your engagement period that no, you guys decided together that you do not want to take the next step and commit to marriage at this time. Committing to engagement was as far as you wanted to go right now.
Disappointing, but the engagement is to make space for talks and serious thinking and arriving at a conclusion. People tend to just RUSH on to setting a date for the wedding and don't use the engagement period like it is meant to be used, IMHO. (Are we ready for marriage commitment? Do we understand the realities of being married? Is this the partner I want to be married to? Is this the right TIME to change to marriage?)
I mean, it isn't like you can't keep on dating each other and engage again later if this first engagement period turns up as "No... not quite done baking! Needs more time in the oven! Need to try other recipes!"
MY ENGAGEMENT STORY
Me? My engagement was planned and deliberate. By ME.
I lived with my then BF for a year. We told our parents we wanted to see a lease through and the goal was at the end of the lease announce a formal engagement or not. Other than his dad who lives far away they were "unofficially told" in person that we were "unoffically engaged." In old fashioned words -- "we had an understanding."
His Dad was told by phone because of the distance. We told them that as the parents we let them know first what to expect, what our plan was, but wanted them to keep it quiet. Did not tell siblings or anything like that formally or informally. (Knowing full well the parents would leak it when they felt like it. And siblings are not blind. They see us shacking up. But nobody knew "officially." )
At then at the end of the first year lease I told him I wanted to break up because he was great but not meeting all deliverables. He was great BF material but not husband material. His peter pan ways made me nuts. I was moving out. We could still date. I liked him as a bf, but he wasn't husband.
He told me he had no right to ask, he agreed he did not meet deliverables. Then he asked for another lease and second try. I said ok after thinking about it for a week -- then he really buckled down to it. We were handfasted to mark this point. He really did change his thinking and behavior from bf/to spouse. Goodbye Peter Pan. Hello, Mr Offcial Fiancee.
I proposed to him. He cried. Then I told him to go ask my dad for my hand. He said that made no sense because I proposed. I told him I knew, but throw the elder a bone so he can feel satisfied and included because that is the expectation in my family of origin. So he asked my dad for my hand. Then I asked his mother for his hand because well, I proposed! To her amusement (and satisfaction because while not a custom in his family of origin, I'm the young silverback and she's the old silverback. Who needs to START with MIL issues?) We also drove to visit his father to announce our formal engagement to him in person (his folks are divorced.)
These things can seem silly -- because who does it matter to but the couple in question? But these things help pave the way to good future family ties -- so why NOT? It's a way to pay respect, and it's a way to ease transitions and promote good will. (and you go round to see in your partner's family who is a wacko and how closely they will be in your future life or not. THAT could be a reason to say NO to marriage! You marry your partner and marry into their family. What is the package you are getting here? What does your partner expect from you in participating in their family culture? Is it reasonable? Can you deliver?)
At the end of that lease we were formally engaged, and moved. That period marked with a change in home. All family customs and gestures made, ALL relatives and friends told. Then we spent another 2 years together with relatives viewing us as "the intended couple." They could now stop treating partner as a "guest" or "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" and more like a "permanent relative." Build to it gently. Then finally we were legally wed.
By THAT time people were all "Finally! You guys are getting married! Yay!" Gave ourselves and the relatives plenty of time to adjust to a new relative joining the ongoing party, build relationships, think seriously, etc.
If I ever get to the place of a poly-engagement? It would be same. I am a big fan of looong engagement.
When you finally do get married you have seen aaaaallllll there is to see about your intended and your intended's family of origin. Their strengths, their weakness, and you can decide to join that family or not from a place of full information. I've never had an in-law problem. I think largely for that reason -- long engagement wisely used toward building new bonds not just with him but his people. My people like DH in general, his people like me in general. It just like polymath -- call it family-math if you want.
YOU ARE OK
So there is NOTHING wrong going here. All is as it should be.
- You had a nice weekend with your 2nd guy, you have lots of NRE kooshy feelings for him.
- You are busy thinking serious questions about a serious life choice with the guy you are ENGAGED to.
If later it turns out you do not want to move, you do not want to end it with the secondary -- well, you do not want to move and you do not want to end it with the secondary.
Have the "what if" talks now with your poly peeps so you all know where everyone stands, what everyone is and is not open to (their limits) and then just enjoy the experience of the here and now. Get into the habit of monthly (?) talks in trio just to take the "where is everyone at?" temperature. Give both joys and concerns time to be celebrate and aired out. Keep the polyship healthy with maintenance. Take the car in for checks and oil change right? Take the polyship you all fly in for checks too.
You can learn from past and plan some for future, but you do need to spent some of your life living in the here and now too. And your here and now sounds loving. In fact -- you worry you have too much love!
Good problem to have. Just BREATHE.