Managing all of the logistics – whether it’s juggling vendors or DIYing everything – gets insane. Family dynamics (slash drama) can push the limits of our patience. Wedding planning can raise incongruences in values between partners that were previously unknown. And THE FINANCES. Cripes, the finances.
There are so many factors that can test the strength of our relationship, and they often present themselves right when we’re supposed to be most acutely celebrating our love story and declaring to the world that our relationship is legitimate and meaningful. In times of high-stress such as this, when emotions are running high and dissension between partners is likely, it is completely normal and understandable to wonder whether or not the present conflict is specific and resolvable; or if it is a manifestation of a more foundational incompatibility that will strain the marriage in a long-term way.
As someone who studies relationship dynamics, there are some decisions I see couples (or, you know, sometimes just one partner) making that give me a pause. I work under the school of thought that there is no right answer for everyone – CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING – but, it might be helpful to keep some of the considerations on your radar in order to prevent potentially poisonous relationship detriments.
Spending all your dough on the wedding
(or taking out hella loans, going into debt, etc.)
Y’all have heard that the number one reason why marriages break-up is due to finances, right? Look, I get it. Your wedding is important. It may be something you’ve dreamed about since you were a baby nugget. It’s supposed to be like, the best day of your life, right? And after all, your love deserves to be celebrated! BUT… if you start off your marriage partnership with a looming frustration, that will remind (read: haunt) you every day for months or years to come, it’s just a breeding ground for resentment. And resentment is relationship kryptonite.
Leading up to the wedding, it can feel like the most important thing. But if you’re still paying for it afterward, or struggling to make ends meet because you blew all your savings, that day feels more like a burden than a celebration. If it’s keeping you from being able to take vacations, get a mortgage, or heck, even paying all your bills, it’s hard – if not impossible – to look back on your wedding day with affinity instead of regret. You don’t want to look back on your wedding day with regret! (And you don’t want your spouse too, either).
Not compromising enough
Remember that thing I said about resentment being relationship kryptonite? When one spouse is so set on their vision for the wedding that they’re unwilling to budge or consider their boo’s opinion, said boo may not feel any ownership in the planning process. They may begin to feel stifled, under-valued, voiceless, and like their ideas and opinions aren’t important. If they’re also spending time, money and energy on executing a vision that isn’t theirs, they may come to resent the process, the day, and even their spouse.
Compromising too much
On the flipside, is the wedding day (or weekend, week, long-ass celebration, whatever!) being planned, not the one you envisioned? Or not the one you want? Do you feel like you’re making concessions every step of the wedding-planning way that you’re no longer even excited about it? You may think that once it’s over all that frustration will automatically disappear, but you also may begin your marriage feeling undervalued and resentful.
Denying your incompatibility as a couple
This one is probably the hardest to swallow. Relationships manifest in so many ways in our lives – we have friends, short-term lovers, parents, siblings, colleagues, mentors, etc., and many times those relationship roles overlap! Marriage is a romantic idea, but it boils down to a partnership. We like – and even love – so many people throughout our lives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are compatible partners with all of them.
Impending marriages have a wonderfully bittersweet way of helping us confront differences between partners. Sometimes these differences are deep-rooted values about money, family, priorities, interdependence, communication, commitment, and purpose. Sometimes the differences in steadfast values are ones that will make it very difficult if not impossible for a couple to be on the same page when it comes to making important life decisions… regardless of how much they love one another.