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

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wedding Engagement Conflict

Photo courtesy Repeat Bride

Marisa over at Repeat Bride had an interesting post about fighting with your fiance.

She writes:
I don’t know why we all don’t talk about it more. Do we worry that it means we’re with the wrong person? (*raising hand sheepishly even though I know better*) Do we wonder if other people will tell us we’re making a mistake if they know that we fight as often as we do? (*raising hand*) Are we hoping that it will all be better once we’re married and the silly stressors like napkin colors and the dreaded words “and date” have gone away? (*raising both hands*) Are we afraid to believe that life together might be as full of petty disagreements and frustrations as it is now? (*standing up and waving both arms in the air*)
I agree that we don't talk enough about relationships. There's a disproportionate amount of talk about in the wedding world about mood boards and wedding shoes rather than how to deal with relationship conflict productively. Thanks for bringing up the subject, Marisa!

She goes on to ask:
Did things really get better after you got married?
Matt and I definitely had conflict during our wedding-planning process. It was a stressful time with heightened emotion. Like a lot of couples, we had multiple things going on (for us it was trying to find new jobs, planning a move to Texas, getting a new dog, etc.).

However, in the grand scheme of a couple's life together, I imagine that wedding planning is probably not the most stressful life events. For starters, I imagine that having a kid is way more stressful. And coping with ailing family members? What about unexpected medical emergencies? Losing a job?

The problems that Matt and I had during our wedding planning process are still the problems we have now that we're married. When I'm stressed, I have very little patience and can be short with people. Plus, my sex-drive plummets. When Matt is in a bad mood, he sees everything through a warped lens that pushes him farther and farther into his bad mood.

When we went through the stress of having our cars stolen, all of our conflict pattern emerged. When we go through periods of work-related stress (e.g., working long hours and traveling all the time), again, the conflict emerges.

I think the trick is learning how to deal with the conflict in ways that build rather than break your relationship. It's definitely easier said than done. But it's something we're working on. And fortunately, Matt and I are both committed to doing everything we can to get better at it.

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Sarah said...

It's interesting though, because there's a difference between conflicts that arise BETWEEN the couple, and the others you mentioned medical problems, stolen car, etc. are very much so couple united vs. problem. My boyfriend and I have been through several medical problems (he got hit by a truck and then a few years later was diagnosed with oral cancer), and even though it was stressful to be sure, it was different because we were on the same side.

That being said, anything that causes stress makes anyone whiny, snippy, and argumentative, so I agree with what you say as well.

-Sarah H.

Anonymous said...

I took a phsycology class a couple years ago, and we had to take a stress test. It gave a point value to each type of stressful situation, and you added up things happening in your life to see what your current stress level was. Death of a family member and a new job were about 100 points whereas planning a wedding was a whopping 500 points! Nothing else even came close to this point value. I have always remembered that because I think it is so sad that we let something that truly is small in the big scheme of things get us so out of whack.

Pichchenda Bao said...

Sara, you are absolutely right that we don't talk enough about relationships. Maybe it's just too personal to put it all out there on the internet?

Sarah, I agree that there's a difference between outside stress that unites and internal stress.

I think that the key (for me at least) is self-awareness. It's not easy to be mindful of how you're feeling and how that may color your responses to other people, but I find that once I can step out of myself a bit, I can see more clearly what the conflict actually is and address the source, rather than snap at the periphery. I'm not particularly good at this, neither is my fiance. So what really helps us get to those moments of clarity is remembering to give each other the benefit of doubt. Does it irritate me that he barely bothers to cook after I've been in class all day and I'm really hungry right now and he's been home all day? Yes. Does this mean he's a jerk? No. Do we need to talk about this after we've eaten and I'm not so irritable? Yes.

Also, it's good to give yourself a bit of break. You're not perfect. Neither is your relationship. It's always going to have conflict, both internal and external. Sometimes you'll be good at dealing with it, sometimes you won't. But that's what for better or for worse means, right? You're in it for more than just these isolated moments.

love-v said...

My fiance and I just started our marriage prep and conflict resolution was at the top of our list. The person in charge of our sessions had us take this free test based on the Myers-Briggs personality test.

The test was a quick 24 questions but analysis comes in an insightful PDF with some video coaching on how to interpret and use the results. I was impressed and comparatively looking at our results is already helpful.

Check it out:

Carey Griffin said...

That's what I love about your blog...you actually bring light to the "real" stuff that goes on between couples! And, I'm so happy someone is mentioning this now because I always knew that my fiance' and I wouldn't argue over something small like napkin colors but then we did. And, you really wonder why and how? I guess what we should be concentrating on is how to come to a compromise instead. Because as much as we don't want it to matter it does, and it comes down to us both wanting the best for each other.

Great job!

Anonymous said...

hey, if it's true your fiance is your best friend, then who on earth never argues with their best friend? the best part about best friends is that you can tell them how it is (and vice versa) and that love and devotion are still there, regardless.

however, my fiance and i don't really fight. sometimes i think it's because we had a pretty rocky start, and now we're both working on making each other happy, which in turn makes us both happy. don't get me wrong, we get snippy over little stuff (like last night i got mad at him for not responding to an important text message, and then when i called him after my class 3 hrs later his friend answered the phone!) when he came home i wasn't pleasant, but my friend came over and my mood changed, so i was over it. lol. it was a 10 minute thing, as they always are. anyway, he gets moody when he's at the end of his watch, and i feel myself get moody when mother nature comes around, and we just deal in our own ways. i'm fortunate to be with my best friend; thankfully one i don't get too annoyed with!

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