Whether you knew it was coming or have been waiting for it for years, it has finally happened. You’re engaged. Congratulations! Now, the fun begins.
But maybe the fun actually hasn’t been so much fun. Wedding planning often brings out the worst parts of ourselves and our partners (ever heard the terms Bridezilla or Groom Kong?).
For some, our inner critic, controller, or fixer comes out to run the show; clearing every obstacle in our path and making sure every decision is exactly as we want it to be come hell or high water. This is, after all, the wedding that has been dreamt of for months (or years, or your entire life).
For others, wedding planning is one more thing to slowly back away from if you know what’s good for you, avoiding conflict or any altercation that may arise over seemingly irrelevant things, like place settings and first dance songs.
A frustrating dynamic between couples in the wedding planning phase is the issue of the partner who doesn’t care.
“Which of these colors do you like better for the guys’ ties?”
“I don’t care.”
“We need to decide if we want to go indoor or outdoor for the ceremony. What’s your vote?”
“Hmm…I don’t care.”
“Want chocolate or strawberry for your cake?”
“I don’t care.”
“Do you care about anything having to do with this wedding?”
“Honestly, I’m just not a detail kinda guy/gal.”
One of the stigmas attached to this issue is that men are typically the ones who fall into the role of he who doesn’t care about the wedding details.
This is where modern relationships must veer in a new direction. The old rules of marriage, the ones that keep a gridlock of traditional logistical and emotional roles (like men are emotionless breadwinners and women must work hard but be the nurturers, feelers, and naggers) are outdated. Sure, at a biological level we do hold some of these gender-specific traits, but we also all hold the capacity to care, to be invested, and to work toward something meaningful alongside another person.
And THAT is what marriage is really about.
Successful relationships in today’s world require both partners (whether same sex or heterosexual relationship) to have emotional literacy, mutual respect, flexibility, and an ability to communicate about relationship roles and needs. When it comes to wedding planning, there is a huge benefit to both people having opinions and being invested in the process. It not only shows your partner that they are important to you, it allows you to practice assertiveness and identifying your own needs and wants.
Does this mean you actually care about cake flavors or the bouquet toss song choice?
Does this mean that you’re willing to show your partner that they are important to you?
People become avoidant when they know their partner might not agree with what they want or think. What makes the difference is when we push ourselves through the discomfort of that potential conflict and learn to navigate through it instead.
So, are you a bridezilla or groom-kong? Or do you create space in your relationship for your partner’s wants and opinions without an underlying tone of needing to get what you want? Can you respect the fact that you will have different thoughts and opinions about wedding details, and that perhaps that is a good thing? Do you see the benefit to expressing opinions about things, even if you don’t actually care about some things?
Let the wedding planning experience as an opportunity to invest in your relationship on multiple levels. Invest in your emotional connection with your partner. Invest in the practice of communication, assertiveness, and active listening, which healthy relationships require. Invest in the exploration of your own wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. Who knows, maybe the process will bring out some interests that you weren’t aware of for yourself or for you both as a couple!
Many people latch onto the idea that you will learn to work through problems in marriage once you are married. Really, though, working on your marriage began when you both committed to this journey together and got engaged. Let your relationship grow through the process of wedding planning, and show your partner what they mean to you. Have opinions about decisions to be made, however important or small they may feel to you.
Your ability to practice this kind of involvement in your relationship now will lead to a more fulfilling partnership later on. And doesn’t that sound enticing?