By Rebecca Blackwell, Relationship Foundation of Virginia
When was the last time you communicated with each others feelings about the wedding planning process? When did you share expectations, hopes and dreams about the wedding and beyond? It’s so important to be able to talk about and share these thoughts with each other. Did you know that when sharing feelings, you:
• Build trust and intimacy
• Nurture growth and authenticity
• Affect physical health by keeping feelings bottled up
• Could think it is for the best by not sharing, but you could end up missing out on a great connection with your partner too
Learn how to open up to each other. You are two different people coming together to live the rest of your lives together and you both have valid thoughts, feelings, and expectations. Sharing life means sharing the good and the bad. Conflict is completely normal and knowing how to handle conflict constructively is huge in relationship satisfaction. So how can expectations be shared?
• Start by finding a good time to talk – “Hey, I want to talk about some things, when can we have some uninterrupted time together?”
• Then share what is on the heart or mind. If it stays in the head, or on the heart without being communicated, it can cause some problems down the road.
• Talk about what is expected to happen at the wedding, during the planning, at the rehearsal, etc.
• Make sure the conversation is back and forth; in other words, listen to how your partner feels about the same topic or another that is important to them.
• Listen to understand, empathize, and problem solve as a team!
Stress can be a part of planning a wedding but planning the rest of your life doesn’t have to be stressful. In becoming more comfortable learning how to communicate and sharing all things relationship, the stress levels will start to decrease. There will always be something that may come up but knowing how to spot stressful situations and knowing how to handle them will be the best tool in your toolbox.
• Recognize triggers and be able to communicate what they are.
• Make a list of things that bring joy and calms you down during stressful situations.
• Ask for a time out to discuss the stressful topic at a later time. (Remember to schedule a time to discuss within 24 hours so this issue doesn’t go from a molehill to a mountain!)
• Make sure your future spouse knows how important they are. Knowing that you can lean on each other for support will help. Remember that you’re on the same team!
The ultimate goal is a satisfied, fulfilling marriage to last a lifetime and with that being the end point, you can always work backwards from there. The wedding is a day – an amazing and wonderful day – and a lifetime together will show what matters most. There are milestones in every relationship and the dating, engagement, wedding, home ownership, children, successful careers, travel, family and friends, retirement, and more is what life is all about. There will be many times where there will be a difference of opinion, and when remembering that there are two sides to every conversation, things will go much smoother: less stress and clearer expectations. Who will take out the trash? Take the dog for a walk? Clean the bathrooms? Do the laundry? Schedule date nights (that is a trick question)? And the list goes on and on. Remember if something is on your mind and concerning, worrying, or upsetting, let your partner know and work through the expectations and stress together as a team. Life is about having fun and when you can be playful, proactive, purpose-driven, and practical in the marriage, the move from surviving to thriving happens much easier and quicker!
Rebecca Blackwell, Marriage & Relationship Coach with Relationship Foundation of VA, has been working with couples for over 15 years to help strengthen marriages and relationships. Her passion for marriage and family is contagious as she so enjoys encouraging couples as they start their marriage journey, enter new stages of marriage, rare dating, or working through issues.