I am both a goal-oriented and deadline-oriented person. My daydreams are lofty and I hold myself to exceedingly strict standards, primarily because I know am capable of greatness.* Counterbalancing my potential, however, is the unfortunate lack of self-directive abilities. I need deadlines. In fact, I crave deadlines in order to force myself slightly closer to realizing my full potential. This odd mix of driven neuroticism and an inability to self-motivate would be a dangerous combination in wedding planning if it weren't for one thing: we have a deadline, and it's April 2011.
Apart from any logistical or budgetary reasons to have a long engagement, I'm really thankful for this prescribed time period that we can devote to marriage planning. Although we've long been committed to lofty marriage and life goals, our deadline focuses me on making these goals manageable and realistic. Fourteen months from now, I intend to stand with Jason, not just committed to our marriage, but sure that we are jointly committed to the difficult actions of everyday respect and love, even when we disagree. Although we entered this engagement secure in our joint values, temperament and general goals, the process of truly interweaving our lives is different. It's about taking time to build that boring foundation that can help guide us when we're too tired to think after an evening with the newborn. It's about planning now so that our marriage doesn't slowly crumble on the weight of unspoken resentments or poorly resolved arguments. In part, we chose a long engagement to get done with the seating charts and therefore give us time to learn about Us - not Jason, not Becca, but Us. What Our joint financial goals and processes are. Which synagogue meets Our needs. How we respond as a Family when life throws us a health-related curveball or job loss. Who We are when facing our families as a Unit. Who We are when facing the world as a Unit.
Starting now, I have a fourteen month path between here and the wedding, and I have implemented a strict plan for tackling my to-do list. Instead of checklists about color schemes and bridesmaids invitations, my to-do list is filled with the marriage planning aspects associated with this wedding period, and each task gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. We've started working our way through 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married, a great, secular workbook that tackles the hard issues underlying communication, compromise, and decision making. It's exhausting stuff, but manageable and worthwhile when approached in one-hour chunks, over a glass of wine. I'm excited to next talk through the nitty gritty of joint finances, beyond the starting point-knowledge that we both have some savings and we're both risk-averse. It's harder to pin down how much we each want to devote to retirement, versus the wedding, versus vacations, etc and even harder to begin talking about these issues regularly and effectively as a team.
I know that marriage is a process: prior to the engagement, leading up to the wedding, and every day thereafter. But for me, it's nice to have a deadline. It's nice to have a prescribed time-frame in which to fully delve into my neuroticism and overanalyze every possibility, together, while we're full of excitement about the future. It's nice to have a goal, something I'm actively working towards, besides this amorphous "forever" thing. And it's equally nice to know that once the wedding planning is done, we can put a lot of the hard, draining, questions behind us, ready to just be. I have no intention of sitting up at 5am the morning of our wedding, editing my vows, wondering how the ceremony got away from me due to making ipod playlists and wondering what the next step for us is. Because this is too important. And I'm approaching both the wedding and the vows as a process of marriage, one with a clear deadline, but as a process that is best savored.
*of course, there are areas where greatness most definitely eludes me. That's when I set the bar low, such as aiming to dance without tripping over my second left foot. Give me an excel analysis however, and I'll come back with genius. I swear.