My Last Engagement Fell Apart—Here’s What I’ll Do Differently Next Time

When I got engaged, I was sure I was doing everything right. But when things started to fall apart and my fiancé and I had a messy breakup, I realized the opposite was true. Here’s what I’m going to do differently the next time I get engaged:

  1. Make sure we’ve lived together first There is no better way to simulate marriage than to live with your partner. You can’t really know someone without sharing a home with them, and if you enter a marriage without having had that experience, the transition is going to be a lot harder. I didn’t live with my fiance at any point in our relationship and that was a major mistake.
  2. Wait to plan the wedding A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that an engagement means you’re going to have a wedding, not a marriage. When my boyfriend proposed, I went all out with wedding plans. I had a full wedding Pinterest board created before I even got around to telling my friends and family the news. I got so swept up in the excitement of planning the big day that I completely neglected to plan or even fully consider the rest of my life.
  3. Ask about my partner’s debt status It may not be the most romantic conversation you can have with the person you’re thinking about marrying, but it is necessary. Studies show that financial issues are the leading cause of stress in marriages, and it should be front and center when you’re considering your relationship’s longevity. Had I known that my boyfriend was in debt before we got engaged, we might have been able to talk through it and work out a strategy without our relationship suffering. In reality, it was such a shock that turned into a deal breaker.
  4. Spend time with his family Family dynamics tell you almost everything you need to know about a person. I got along really well with my ex’s family, but I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with them until we got engaged. I learned a lot about my ex during that time, and while there weren’t any major revelations from seeing him with his family, I also felt like I was seeing a side of him that was totally unfamiliar to me and not one I wanted in my marriage.
  5. Have a tiny wedding budget The amount of money couples spend on weddings is kind of staggering. In 2017, the average price of a wedding in the United States was just under $26,000, and that’s before the honeymoon. While some couples are able to afford that budget without sweat, many couples can’t, and it causes major stress in the marriage from day one. In fact, studies have shown that expensive weddings lead to shorter marriages. For my part, I plan to spend less money on my wedding and lot more time investing in our lives together.
  6. Wait at least a day before saying yes In the classic proposal, the guy gets down on one knee with a little box and pops the magic question and the woman, overcome with joy, says “Yes!” almost before he’s finished speaking. This is kind of what my first proposal was like, and while it was incredibly romantic, it isn’t exactly the best setting in which to make a life-altering decision. Such a momentous decision shouldn’t be made after half a second and three glasses of wine.
  7. Spend time on my own Jumping into an engagement is so exciting, but if you don’t pay attention to your own needs, you can end up feeling pretty burnt out and unhappy by your wedding day. When I got engaged to my ex, we got all caught up in planning the wedding and celebrating with friends and family that I totally lost sight of myself and what I needed. If I get engaged again, I’m going to make sure I spend plenty of time on my own recharging and really focusing on my intentions for the future.
  8. Be financially independent While a lot of couples manage their finances together, I made a promise to myself after my ex and I broke up that I would always keep my money separate from anyone I date or marry. During our engagement, we started buying things together and when we broke up, it was an absolute nightmare dividing up everything we’d acquired. In the future, I’ll always keep my money out of my relationships, no matter how in love I am.
  9. Talk about kids It may seem pretty far off for some, but having or not having kids will almost certainly play a huge part in your marriage. If you expect to be married to the same person forever, you need to talk about whether or not you want to be parents and when. When I got engaged the first time around, my boyfriend and I were so young that we weren’t considering children at all, and it wasn’t until a few months before our wedding that I learned he never wanted kids and considered it a non-negotiable topic, which was kind of a big deal.
  10. Talk to my parents first—yes, really Your parents know you better than almost anyone. If they’re respectful and considerate, chances are they’re not throwing around their opinions on your relationships every time you talk on the phone. And while that’s often a blessing, they probably have a lot of really helpful advice to give. After my engagement ended and my parents told me they’d always been a little skeptical of the relationship, I’ve pretty much asked their opinion of everyone I’ve dated since and they’ve always been right.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.