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This TV Show Taught Me Everything I Need To Know About Being Engaged

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    On May 7, 2007, How I Met Your Mother's Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) tied the knot. To mark the occasion nine years later, I decided to look back at the ways the show inspired my own relationship and upcoming wedding.

    Friends who didn't watch HIMYM don't understand the fan base when I mention the show to them. It seems like just another CBS sitcom with a laugh track, or another show about a group of white friends hanging out. Those things are technically true, but for fans, it was a lot more than that. Plenty of episodes in HIMYM's nine-season run dealt with relationship issues that other sitcoms haven't addressed, at least not as well.

    Of course, the past decade has seen other great married couples on TV, too. Happy Endings' Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) are a particularly noteworthy example. Still, even years after HIMYM went off the air, the TV relationships I think about most often are Lily and Marshall, and Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders).

    It might be the innocence of Lily and Marshall's relationship that's more relatable to me than those of other TV couples. Like the HIMYM duo, my fiancé and I met during the first week of college and have limited (well, more like nonexistent) romantic experience outside of our relationship. Our wedding will also happen as he's finishing graduate school, just like Marshall's when he is finishing his law degree. (We're also going to live with a third-wheel college friend after the wedding, our own Ted Mosby — he's even studying architecture.) Sure, Lily and Marshall's struggles are simpler than those of most TV couples. But their relationship is so unapologetically earnest, which is a big part of the reason I feel so much nostalgia for this sitcom.

    Other generations have Friends' "We were on a break." That's how I feel about things like "Now we're even," and the Robin Sparkles videos. And, as I plan my wedding and look back on my own relationship, I'm really happy for the relationship lessons How I Met Your Mother taught us.

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    It's not about the wedding itself.

    Okay, so this one's not exclusive to HIMYM. Nowadays, more couples seem to be catching on to the fact that cultivating a healthy marriage is more important than planning one perfect day.

    HIMYM had one of the best — and sweetest — examples of this, though. Marshall and Lily had an "unofficial" wedding outside their ceremony. That way, if anything went wrong inside — like Marshall's terrible hairstyle, hence, the hat — they were already married. I'm trying to apply the mind-set to my own planning. It's an important day, but what's more important is a life with your partner.

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    It's normal to have insecurities.

    Lily and Marshall's engagement included what some people might call red flags. In the show's early episodes, the couple spent months broken up, while Lily pursued an art career in San Francisco. I think of these episodes often, because I did the same thing to Steve in college. I thought we weren't having "the college experience," so we broke up for a few months.

    I thought those apprehensions were long gone — until our wedding countdown hit the three-month mark. I started having serious doubts about the event and spent hours on the phone with one of my bridesmaids. He (yes, I have a male bridesmaid) helped me realize that my issues weren't with my relationship, but with smaller details that, in the end, don't matter. I thought I was concerned about being with one person for life, but that wasn't really the case. I can't imagine being in a relationship with anyone else, and I think Lily's character would have said the same thing in San Francisco.

    I also spend a lot of time thinking about one scene from the show's third episode, "Sweet Taste of Liberty." Lily is newly engaged, and she's jealous that Robin is getting all the attention at the bar. Robin tells her that everyone else is looking for what she's already found with Marshall. I thought of this scene many times when Steve and I were broken up, and I still think of it frequently now. It's so easy to be jealous of other people, or the attention they get, or relationships that seem to be perfect on the outside, but at the end of the day, what's important is your own relationship.

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    At the end of the day, a relationship shouldn't be hard.

    HIMYM came at a simpler time, before it was normal for characters like Scandal's Olivia Pope to tell us she wanted "painful, difficult" love. When one of the group's old friends freaks out before his own wedding, Marshall tells him that while relationships require work, they shouldn't be difficult. Even when you're frustrated with your partner, remembering why you love them in the first place is key.