Helping Your Relationship Survive Pre-Wedding Madness

weddingIs your wedding putting you at risk for…divorce? As research shows, the decisions you make leading up to your wedding day can have a bigger impact on your marriage than you might think. For example, couples who indulge on pricey nuptials are more likely to see their marriage end in divorce: specifically, couples that spend $20,000 or more on their wedding are 3.5 times more likely to split up than those who spend less than half that amount.

Could a lower budget wedding be the key to marital bliss? And what other pre-wedding pitfalls should you watch out for? If you’re planning a wedding, read on to learn what you can do to make your Big Day what it’s supposed to be: the active commitment to a meaningful life partnership.

Don’t be a Bridezilla or Groomzilla. Your wedding should be about sharing your love and expressing your values in the presence of those closest to you. Melting down if your centerpieces arrive with white calla lilies instead of pink will alienate others – including your betrothed — and drain every drop of joy out of what should be a joyous occasion. The good news: you can recover from being a Bridezilla or Groomzilla. When you find yourself in wedding stress overload, take a deep breath and ask yourself, is what you’re upset or worrying about really so important? Take a walk, meditate, do some yoga, and then answer your question.

Write your mission statement. Clarifying your shared goals and intentions is far more important than deciding where you’re going to set up a gift registry. Sit down with your fiancé and create a joint mission statement: what are your common values and goals and what are you both going to do to honor them? Sample questions could include: What are your deepest values? What causes do you believe in? What would you regret not doing? What makes you feel great about yourself? How can you use your talents and values to help each other and your community? What do you want your life to look like in 20 years and what are you both going to do to make those things happen? Writing your mission statement together will not only make you feel united, but it will also give you a sense of purpose. Getting clear about who you are and where you’re going will put your wedding in perspective: no china pattern will keep you together, but shared values and dedication will.

Agree on the role of in-laws. After sex and money, in-laws are the biggest source of conflict for married couples. So start your union off on the right foot by agreeing how involved your relatives will be in your wedding and how you will manage any ensuing disagreements. If in-laws are paying for part or all of a wedding, do they get to pick the venue and officiants? How will you handle it if your sister insists that her tantrum-prone 3-year-old be the ring bearer but your fiancé wants a low-key ceremony? How will you enforce limits with your mother if she makes your partner feel like a third wheel? No matter how much you love your family-of-origin, if you don’t make your partner feel like they’re #1, your marriage is doomed to fail – or just be miserable.

Be flexible. There are so many details to work out when planning a wedding that it’s unlikely you and your fiancé will agree on everything. Having a big budget can actually increase opportunities for conflict because the sky’s the limit. Remember that your allegiance to your partner is far more important than whether or not you get that crystal stemware you fell in love with at Williams Sonoma. Conversely, if you find that you and your partner are arguing over everything from the size of the wedding to the first dance song, you may want to put the wedding on hold and re-evaluate your compatibility. Recognizing that there’s more than one solution to a problem and having the flexibility to compromise are life skills that both you and your spouse need to have a successful marriage.

Consider eloping if money is an issue. More and more people are opting to elope and use the money they would have spent on a wedding for a down payment on a house, to pay down student loans, or to sock away for retirement. It is just not worth going into debt or spending money that could be better used elsewhere on a dress that you will only wear once and a lavish party that will only last for a few hours. You can celebrate your wedding by throwing a backyard potluck bash in the future — and who knows, it might the backyard of the new house you just bought! Now that’s a wedding gift that lasts.

Planning a wedding tests relationships. You will learn a lot about your partner’s – and your own – maturity level, empathy, and conflict resolution skills. It’s great to be able to have the wedding of your dreams, but not at the expense of your soon-to-be spouse, your financial health, and your enjoyment.

If you would like to find out about legal options that can give you added security and peace of mind as you enter marriage, we encourage you to learn more prenuptial agreements and how you and your spouse could benefit from having one in place to address certain financial issues in your marriage. Please contact us to set up an initial confidential consultation with a family law attorney to understand your options…and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!  

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