I'm still guessing at why our fighting escalated. Have we taken the gloves off because we know the other person will be sticking around, and so now we feel freer to ask for, even do battle for, the things we need—not to mention reveal things and exhibit behaviors we were previously inclined to conceal? Are we blowing up issues that might have receded into the background before the engagement because we now know that whatever it is we're fighting about might be an issue for the rest of our lives—and that's a long time to put up with something? Certainly, the stakes are higher, and that's making us twitchier. And because we're living together for the first time, we're suddenly more susceptible to each other's moods, each of us more apt to let our own outlook be colored by the other's momentary (or longer) depression or frustration; more apt to get caught in a feedback loop that's tough to break. And, of course, when you've got a negative internal monologue going on, most forecasts look dark: What if this means we're not meant to be?
But when I stop panicking and look around, I do see evidence of the engagement period being rough for other people, too. I remember what relationship guru Barry McCarthy said at the Smart Marriages conference about fighting early on being good for cementing your bond. (Though that's harder to believe when you're in the midst of it than when you're taking notes at a lecture!) I remember that scene in Father of the Bride when Kimberly William's Annie Banks calls off the wedding because her fiancé buys her a blender for her birthday—and she's positive that means he now sees her as the little wife in the kitchen. (Everything is a bit more fraught with meaning these days, it's true.) I latch on to books like the very excellent Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the “Happiest” Time of Her Life by Boston-area therapist Allison Moir-Smith, a self-described "renegade wedding-industry person."