Differences and disagreements are as inevitable in wedding planning as they are in marriage itself and this is a good time to learn how to deal with them.
Here are some strategies engaged couples may find helpful:
Some decisions will be made consequentially as other wishes are discussed. For example, the guest list should be created early because it shapes decisions about facilities and costs, among other things. If one of you wants is a tropical beach wedding and the other a home- town wedding, you can discuss these options in the light of other issues such as the fact both of you want your frail grandparents to come to your wedding. Seeing the larger picture can help you resolve differences.
You can decide to gracefully adjust your preferences if your partner has strong feelings about an issue. You may prefer a small, intimate wedding but your partner has cherished the family tradition of a large wedding. Try setting a number that gives more to the person who cares the most.
If your partner has not followed through on a task they were responsible for, or if you feel better equipped for a particular task, politely offer to help or it take over (e.g. “I am interested in photography and have a light work schedule next week. Is it okay if I research a photographer?” ). The key is to agree together on a shift of responsibility, rather than saying, “Since you won’t do it, I will!” The person who has been relieved of one responsibility should then offer to help with other responsibilities.
Sometimes one of you will not see a problem that is quite clear to the other. You can both educate each other about your families and their traditions. The groom from a Catholic family should explain to his Protestant bride what is involved in a traditional Catholic wedding, rather than having surprises keep coming up.
For example, sometimes the issue is not about the size of the wedding but about a feeling of envy or competition because one of you has a bigger family or circle of friends. Sometimes the issue is not between the two of you, but between one of you and your family members.
The standard tools of effective communication taught in PREPARE/ENRICH are particularly important when there is tension between you. Examples are speaking for yourself using “I-statements” rather than attacking the other person, listening to understand before proposing solutions, and choosing the best time and place to talk about difficult matters. Your everyday communication patterns might be fine for everyday matters, but when you are negotiating a wedding, it’s good to be at your best!
More tips and reminders, tune in next week...
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PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.