Elizabeth Fogarty

Whether you’ve been with your significant other just a few years or you’re nearing your 10th anniversary of dating, you’re probably wondering how (and if) getting engaged will change things. Will you fight more, or perhaps less post-engagement? Will you have an easier time making decisions now that you’re affianced? According to relationship experts, it could go either way, and certainly depends on the length of time you spent together before he or she “put a ring on it.” However, there are some unanimous changes that most couples can expect no matter the length of time they’ve been dating, their personality characteristics or any other variables thrown into the mix.

Here, relationship experts share some of the changes that most commonly affect couples post-engagement.

There will likely be more stress.

Just when you thought all of the stress had passed now that you’re finally engaged and all, you’re in for even more than you might have predicted. It’s true that weddings are blissful and exciting milestones, but the planning involved can oftentimes be quite overwhelming and, well, stressful. As a result, you and your partner may find you are arguing more post-engagement, as your relaxation and personal time is infringed upon. “Add to that the financial pressures around costs for the wedding, along with your families (well intentioned) opinions and requests, and the stress can really pile up,” notes Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor. In these situations, it becomes increasingly important for you both to communicate and listen to each other. “It doesn’t mean that your future spouse gets to stay home to watch the games on TV when you’re scheduled to do a tasting or hear a band, but you can be understanding that it can be difficult for them, and work together to make the best of things,” she says.

Your extended families become more involved.

As individuals, you and your significant other are probably used to making your own decisions, and perhaps your respective families have been, well, respectful about those decisions. But don’t be surprised if their tune starts changing, even ever-so-slightly post-engagement. Parents may begin to offer their opinions about how things should be done, be it where you should get married, the size of your wedding, where you should ‘settle’ down, etc., explains Dumbroff. “It is up to you and your partner to set boundaries on how much you will listen to your families, and how much you will let them know that certain things are important to you and you are not willing to do things their way,” she says. “Boundaries are very important for young couples to create around various issues, and how much they will let in from family members is a very important one.”

Jealousy among family members may arise.

There may be jealousy between the future in-laws post-engagement, which can impact the couple, warns Dumbroff. For example, the bride’s mom is involved in everything with her daughter and the groom’s mom feels left out. “This can cause tension between the couple because the groom may be hearing this from his mother and approach the bride on her behalf,” she says. In these situations, she urges couples to work together to create boundaries and buffer zones between them and their respective families. “It might take some reminding from you to them about what’s important and what’s insignificant in the long run,” she says. “Listening to each other, understanding and validating each other’s positions, and making compromises where possible, is important, and will help to ease the process of the many decisions which need to be made when planning a wedding.”

Money might rule the conversation.

There’s a reason financial issues are the number one reason married couples fight. When you’re sharing expenses, there’s simply much more to discuss, and therefore argue about. This will likely become a sensitive subject, if it hasn’t already, during the wedding-planning phase, notes Dumbroff. “Maybe one family has money, but is unwilling to contribute—or perhaps neither family can afford to contribute to the wedding,” she says. “It is really important for partners to notice when the issues around planning the wedding, especially the many issues that involve their own families, begin to impact them negatively.” She urges newly engaged couples to work together to understand each other’s predicaments with their parents, and to be able to honor and respect their own needs.