by Jean Madrid

Note: This was written just a few weeks after Eric and I got engaged. After a couple of months of marriage preparation, we got married and moved to China.

Two weeks after Eric and I got engaged, we made a joint decision, which is by far, the best decision we have made for our relationship. We would not set a date yet.

For most couples, the first thing that is usually done after formalizing the engagement is to set a date. Then from there, work on the wedding. For Eric and I, we are doing it differently. Since we had engagement anxiety immediately after he popped the question, we said that we would first focus on MARRIAGE PREPARATION then do wedding preparation when we are happy with it already.

Initially, we wanted July. Most likely, the wedding will still fall in July. But that’s not the point. The point is that we removed the pressure of an impending ceremony+party (and all the drama that comes in preparing for that) in the meantime so that we can devote time and psychological-spiritual-emotional energy in just preparing ourselves for what comes after the wedding — marriage.

We started by defining what engagement means for both of us. It means that we are formally and seriously going to prepare for marriage. I know I know, a lot of people might say, “but we have been talking about it for months even before he popped the question. It was just a formality.”

In our case, the ring was not just a formality. It symbolized many things. For one, the stakes are now higher. Our “marriage talk” is no longer the stuff of daydreaming… it is going to happen soon.

It was a time for utter and no-bullshit honesty. ‘Where are we now emotionally and where to do we need to be?’, is the most important question. Now is also the time to really get to know each other’s families.

I love the fact that I have enough emotional energy to notice and appreciate how differently my family is starting to treat Eric, how they are now really interacting with him as a member of the family! Imagine if I was so pre-occupied with flowers, color motifs and confetti! I may never have noticed nor appreciated those very subtle changes.

The ring is also changing our decision-making process and I just love how it is also evolving from ‘his’ and ‘mine’ to ‘ours’. It also means that we are going to take more active steps in our preparation… going to workshops and retreats, talking to people and asking them for valuable pieces of advice and lessons and just being open to whoever has anything to say about marriage… even to a random stranger on a two hour shuttle-ride going to the airport (happened to me!).

Most of all, it means being more vulnerable to the transition that is supposed to happen in each other. I love the change that is happening inside me… from a single woman to a future bride and wife… not just any wife but the wife that Eric deserves!

I wake up everyday praying to God for Him to give me the grace of a beautiful transformation and I can feel that He is indeed changing me. My mindset is now shifting and my beliefs and values are also evolving…slowly and ever-so naturally.

Our engagement is a gray area… we are starting to think and decide like we are married, even if we are not yet. Our families are starting to think and act like we are.. but not yet. And surprisingly, there’s an odd sense of comfort and joy that I feel in it. I have never been good with gray areas in my life but this one is something I am particularly enjoying. It is seeing for myself how God is slowly but surely moving the pieces together in my life with Eric. It’s really awe-some.

Our engagement is a transition. Its goal is the process itself. Then when we feel like we have successfully gone through it, and our mindset and programming are already that of a married couple, then it’s time to set a date. 🙂

To read about our engagement anxiety, read Eric’s account here: The Rules of Engagement.


Jean is a huge fan of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and believes that at some point in our lives, we have to focus on nurturing our spirituality. She is mom to two beautiful daughters: Isabela and Aria and is based in Singapore. Her day job is in the exciting world of data-driven marketing. But during lull times and when lightning strikes, she writes her insightful reflections on A Woman’s Reflections From The Peripheries, which is about her journey of faith, spirituality, marriage and motherhood.

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2 thoughts on “The Beauty of An Engagement Is in The Gray Area

  1. What a good decision you’ve made to focus on preparation for your marriage so that you won’t be totally preoccupied with the wedding preparation! I’m passing this on to my daughters.


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