Relationship Guru John Gottman describes betrayal as making any life choice that doesn’t prioritize your relationship; that doesn’t put your boo “before all others.”
Betrayals can absolutely devastate any relationship, especially a marriage.
Common forms of betrayal or deceit can include disrespecting your partner, breaking promises, siding with someone else over your boo, or being emotionally distant. We don’t always perceive these actions from a betrayal perspective. We often think of betrayal as a more monumental event, like an extramarital sexual affair. But I promise you, that is only one type of disloyalty that can threaten a couple. In fact, in his extensive research, Gottman found that type of betrayal present in failed relationships.
Wedding planning is ripe for opportunities to betray your future spouse in these ways. In my own experience, I have definitely seen these common deceptions manifest in multiple ways leading up to a couple’s nuptials.
Promises made about wedding budgets or guest lists may be broken as those boundaries are challenged. I recently heard from a bride-to-be who felt utterly disrespected by her future spouse’s bachelor party plans, and from another who felt a lack of respect by her fiancé not understanding why she didn’t want to change her last name. I hear SO OFTEN about one spouse acquiescing to the wishes of their parent over the wishes of their mate. Further, during times of high-stress (i.e. wedding planning!), some of us may react by withdrawing and becoming less emotionally connected.
I actually just heard a perfect example of wedding-planning betrayal in an online community. A bride was LIVID with her fiancé because apparently one of his friends decided he was going to bring a guest to their destination wedding less than two weeks before the trip. The bride felt completely betrayed by her boo’s willingness to accommodate the friend’s guest, particularly because it meant so much more work for HER (such as seating arrangements, favors, welcome bags, etc.).
While superficially this may seem like an honest and innocent disagreement, it could potentially cause significant harm to the couple’s relationship. Because let’s be honest — we are likely ALL guilty of not prioritizing our relationships from time-to-time. However, if either partner consistently shortchanges the relationship, that behavior can threaten the integrity of the commitment.
On the other hand…
Remaining loyal to your spouse can strengthen the perception of commitment within a relationship, as both partners feel safe, secure, and comfortable with vulnerability. So as you navigate the wedding planning process, be mindful of how well you are keeping your relationship at the forefront. Some ways to mitigate these betrayals might include…
- Making decisions about the wedding together, as a couple. Even if one of you is more invested in the details of the celebration, provide a (structured, maybe?) time and space for the other to provide feedback. And be open to hearing and legitimately listening to feedback. If you have a joint plan, it’s more likely that you’ll have shared expectations.
- If surprises arise (such as Aunt Lynn asking if she can bring her three kids), don’t make a decision before conferring with your boo. Since you’ve already set up a joint plan (see above!), you can decide AS A TEAM how to finagle each challenge.
- Recognize that priorities may shift during the process, and that’s ok! The key is to have those conversations with your future spouse, and explore together why that priority has shifted. For example, you may have decided together early on that you’d only spend a certain proportion of your budget on food. But maybe you’ve decided you no longer value favors or a band. This is fine! However, you can likely see how there’s a difference between deciding on your own to hire a higher priced caterer, and discussing as a duo the option to increase the catering budget. Both have the same outcome, but the difference in the process can either damage or strengthen your bond.
Colby Marie Z is a sex & relationship coach, educator, speaker and blogger based out of Providence, RI. She is a doctoral candidate in human sexuality, an avid (slash obnoxious) football fan, and has been proudly talking about sexual pleasure, confidence, and satisfaction for 10+ years. You can find out more about Colby at sexloveandallthefeels.com, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.