Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Q & A: Nurturing Your Relationship During the Wedding Planning Process

Reader Question: I'd love to see a post on how to continue to nurture your relationship during the wedding planning process. I know you've touched on this in several different ways, but I'm interested in your (and Matt's) opinion on if you ever lost focus of the beauty of the relationship and concentrated too much on the goal.

Did Matt and I every lose focus of our relationship and concentrate too much on our wedding?

[insert a vehement yes]

And I'm mainly the one to blame. At times, I got way too excited about and focused on the wedding.

Seven months is a long time to perseverate on one event. I found myself wanted to spend all my free time thinking about and working on the wedding. It was so much fun! I'd come home from a day of teaching and spend the evening making a tie for Matt. Or I'd want to spend the weekend working on our quilt.

Matt was definitely into the wedding, too, but he maintained more of an active interest in other aspects of his life: obsessively reading The New York Times, keeping his iPod up to date, playing ultimate frisbee, learning how to snowboard, etc.

Conflict definitely arose due to the different levels of attention we each wanted to direct toward the wedding at a given time.

Here's my advice for avoiding some of the aforementioned conflict and not letting your wedding overshadow your relationship:

Set aside specific time each week to make wedding decisions.
If one partner wants to spend more time working on the wedding than the other, it can get frustrating for both parties. The Obsessive Partner gets upset because the Nonchalant Partner isn't as excited. The Nonchalant Partner gets frustrated because s/he does care about the wedding; it's just that s/he doesn't want to spend all his/her time thinking about it. Plus, the nagging gets annoying.

Setting aside a few hours a week (the time can be more or less depending on how soon your wedding is) can really help. The Obsessive Partner can share all the ideas s/he has been coming up with all week long. The Nonchalant Partner can give his/her full attention to the wedding and make sure that all the important decisions are made jointly to ensure that the wedding reflects both people.

Continue to make time for the things that ground you as a couple.
Wedding planning can get hectic, especially as the date approaches. I think it's important to continue to make time for the routines and special things that help you feel connected to each other and help keep you sane. For Matt and me, those things include: grocery shopping and cooking meals together, watching movies, playing Scrabble, going running, listening to This American Life, going on spontaneous adventures, and doing our weekly chores.

Apply the 10-10-10 rule.
The Obsessive Partner needs to constantly remind him/herself that the wedding is not going to be the best day of his/her life. It's just going to be--hopefully--one great day among many great days. In a culture that has really warped expectations around weddings, it can be challenging to maintain your sanity while planning a wedding. Really small things start to feel like a really big deal. You may think/feel very irrational things (e.g., "The invitations will not be complete without photo stamps!")--much to the dismay of your perfectly rational self.

The 10-10-10 rule can help. If you're the Obsessive Partner, ask yourself, "What impact will this aspect of the wedding have in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years?"

Usually, things seem important on the ten-minute scale (e.g., "Yes, the centerpieces really do matter!"). But they are usually much less important on the 10-month or 10-year scale.

I can't guarantee that these strategies will work. They are just things I wish we would have done more of in retrospect!

Let me know if you have more ideas for staying focused on your relationship and not just the wedding.

[Editor's Note: My Partner-For-Life promises to have his side of the story ready for publication on Friday.]





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8 comments:

AmyJean said...

What great advice! Thanks! :)

Ashley Sue said...

goodness, how are you so level-headed and practical? after following your blog for a while, i'm considering not having a wedding but rather turning the day into a mutual sara-worshipping day. how do you feel about this? (joke.)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Oh, Ashley Sue, you are too kind. Did you miss the part where I said:

"I can't guarantee that these strategies will work. They are just things I wish we would have done more of in retrospect!"

I wish I had been more level-headed and practical!

You'll see. When Matt writes his side of the story, I might seem like a monster!

Best of luck with your planning...

Kiana said...

I'm WAY interested to see what the guy's point of view on this is and to see if he agrees with the advice you gave! Good advice, but I'm not sure setting aside sit down time every week would work for our schedules, etc - but I'm sure we can figure out something similar to better suit our lifestyle. (I'm the obsessive one...I need to do some of these things for sure! lol) :)

www.dottheiwedding.blogspot.com

amyc said...

Sara,

Your post is amazingly timely. I just went through a full weekend of emotional upheaval over our wedding and came to the conclusion that 'I WANT a wedding with our families and friends there.'

There. I said it. I WANT it. I couldn't own it before... wanted him to want it as much as I did, so I didn't feel so selfish. But alas, he'd be quite happy to elope. And we both have big families, so having a smaller, intimate wedding didn't make sense.

So thank you for writing this today. It echos what i've struggled with all weekend (and really, since we got engaged). It's a much-needed reality check that it's okay to want to celebrate with a big party... and because he loves me, he wants it, too (just not at my level).

rachel w said...

good thoughts...i actually just has a similar discussion this weekend with my boy. he is in the last two weeks of his first semester at grad school and is going crazy, and my workload is much less demanding...so i have much more time to think/read/get ideas for our wedding and am getting antsy about nailing down plans as we hit the 6-months-to-our wedding mark. he wants to be involved more than he is, but is trying to keep his head above water with school right now. it is a balancing act, and requires patience and understanding on both our parts, but really, that is good practice for relationship anyways :)

Sara said...

Great post! It's so easy to get completely carried away by wedding planning. I really hate this stereotype, but I can totally see where the term "bridezilla" comes from -- I've gone there a time or two myself, despite all of my very best intentions! :)

ChendaBride said...

Thanks! I just wrote a little entry on my blog regarding this. I think that your first piece of advice: setting aside time to make decision, will be very useful for us. Makes so much sense. Here's hoping that being mindful of all these pressures will go a long way to keeping it real with your partner. :-)

- Chenda

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