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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Judged If You Do; Judged If You Don't

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but much of the stress that rears its ugly head during wedding planning also emerges during other pivotal life moments, like having a baby.

I think it has to do with transitions and rites of passages. Committing your life to another person is a big, huge deal. Giving birth to another person is also a big, huge deal. Whenever the stakes are high, emotions tend to run high, too. And these major life events are immensely personal. It's so hard for the people around us to not project their own feelings and experiences onto our transitions.

The kind of stress I'm experiencing now as we head into parenthood has to do with being judged for following our own path (our wedding was good practice for this!). But the ironic part is that we also get judged for not following our own path. For example, when I share over on my personal blog that I'm reading lots of parenting books, I get judged for not following my instincts and for turning to the experts.

Then when I share that we're going to very non-mainstream route of using a Montessori floor bed (to cultivate independence and exploration) instead of a crib, I get judged for not following what others consider to be the safest options for children.

And the exact same thing can happen during wedding planning. If you opt for a tea-length dress, you run the risk of causing a heart-attack among at least one of your family members. On the other hand, if you opt for a traditional veil, you run the risk of being judged by someone in the indie community who thinks you're too conventional and oppressed.

You can't seem to win either way!

The answers are definitely not black and white. If you follow the old adage that you can't please everyone so you might as well please yourself, you run the risk of alienating family members and breaking down connections at a time when you're trying to strengthen them.

On the other hand, if you let other people's values, tastes, and preferences overshadow your own, you run the risk of creating a wedding that feels like it belongs to someone else. You can end up feeling like an actor in someone else's show.

I think the best we can do is seek balance. Easier said than done! How exactly do you balance out your own needs with the needs of others?

Well, I think it starts with introspection and self-awareness. Are we will to compromise on something that's actually really important to us just because we want to avoid conflict or make someone else happy? Are we doing what someone else thinks is best just because we are seeking value, love, and affirmation (which we all crave and deserve!). On the other hand, are we being too stubborn and unwilling to compromise just out of principle?

At the end of the day, we each have to be our own judges. We have to shift the deciding factor from an external place to an internal one. We can certainly seek input from others, but, ultimately, we are the ones who have to live with and be comfortable with our own decisions.

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Kristen (kristenwalker.com) said...

Yes, yes, yes! so well said.

I've been dealing with this for our wedding. I was surprised at the barrage of strong opinions about everything from the fact that we are using real plates (who cares????) to not having a wedding party, etc. etc. I realized I was thinking out loud with a lot of people just to process my ideas, and it was opening me up to more opinions than I needed or wanted. I realized I needed to process my ideas with a smaller group of people, or one person, or, just make a decision without running it by anyone except my fiance (gasp!). hahaha

Thanks for sharing this! I found it very useful.


Charlie said...

Thank you for being so honest and for putting into words what I feel and get so frustrated by. I feel upset when family and friends seem oblivious to their strong opinions making us feel miserable. So many of our ideas have been dismissed with someone's better idea - and some are better, but lots just aren't us. Thank you for helping me to not feel alone in feeling like this!

Diana Lee said...

So true! There's a book you might be interested in, "The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood" by Sharon Hays. I didn't realize how contradictory Western culture's messages about motherhood are until I read this. Mothering is supposedly a natural, instinctive process.....which requires plenty of expert advice and "scientific" management to do properly. It's enough to make your head spin.

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