An issue that I see far too often in couple’s therapy, is the issue that the couple puts all their time, energy, and finances into planning a big wedding, but focuses very little energy on the life that is to follow the big day. Planning a wedding can be many things. It can be fun, exciting, nerve wracking, and stressful. It can be all consuming, and initial plans and budgets often go out the window, as opinions, prices, and the unexpected come into play. So much time is spent on finding the perfect dress, the most beautiful flowers, the ideal location, but what about the ideal life? People spend so much time focused on planning this one big day, that they do not have important discussions, they fail to find common ground on essential issues, and they assume that issues they have will somehow magically go away once the commitment is made.
The above scenario is what lands more couples than I can name in couple’s therapy, or even on the road to divorce, very early in their marriage. When the big buildup of the wedding day, the gifts, and the honeymoon, wear off, the couple is faced with the day to day realities of their new life together. They often find that they have very different ways of dealing with things, and some very different thoughts about how essential issues are handled. If these issues were not discussed and come to an agreement on BEFORE the wedding day, they can spell trouble for the days ahead.
There are some issues that a couple considers “deal-breakers,” and if you are not on the same page about this before the wedding, don’t assume that you will suddenly be after. We all have certain values, thoughts, and beliefs, about how our life, our married life, and that of any potential children we may have. Knowing our core beliefs, and ways that we feel our life needs to be lived with our partner, without exception is something that should be discussed and brought to resolution before anyone walks down the aisle. Many people think the idea of therapy prior to marriage is odd, or a sign of trouble ahead. However, the fact of the matter is that this is a very healthy choice to speak with someone and have an unbiased third-party work with the couple to come to compromises and solutions to the issues that could cause conflict quickly in their relationship.
Discussions of this nature, with each other, or a third party such as a therapist, may also help bring you to the reality you are avoiding, that the two of you are not actually compatible as a couple, and that, as much as it might pain you, the two of you are not each other’s perfect match. Surprisingly, large numbers of couples realize this fact during the planning stages of the wedding, and are too embarrassed, feel they are too financially invested in the event, or fear what others will think if they call off the wedding. The fact is that making that difficult decision now, while not ideal, will save you a great deal of pain, frustration, and heartache after the fact.
This is not to say that almost any issue cannot be worked out, if the couple is willing, flexible, and able to try and do so. However, it is also not saying that anyone is a bad person if they are honest with themselves and with each other, and realize that they have become so caught up in the planning that they have neglected to be honest about the health and feasibility of the relationships ultimate success. The bottom line is, a wedding is a day. It can be fun, it can be beautiful, and it can be a touching display of your commitment to each other. However, it is just one day, and the enduring commitment is the life you lead together from that day forward. Be certain you are tending to that with a much attention and energy.