There is a new breed afoot.
He has opinions, strong opinions, and he is not afraid to voice them. He is adamant about the catering, he knows the ideal ceremony location, and he is certain the two of you can accommodate his growing list of invitees. He is inflexible, he is determined. He is getting married, darn it, and his needs will be heard.
Contrary to the stereotype of the groom schlepping through his assigned wedding tasks (tux, groomsmen, music and honeymoon), this generation of grooms are increasingly involved in their wedding planning. And while brides may love having their eager groom to discuss the floral choices with, more conflict may also arise in this pre-marital flurry of decisions and indecision. A groom's involvement may escalate from having strong opinions to a case of having too many chefs in the kitchen (as if in-laws and friends weren't already contenders).
The involved groom has numerous preferences which may fly contrary to the bride's ideal, and the key is to address these encounters with care. Here's how to negotiate your groom's enthusiastic involvement, while maintaining the sanity that you have worked so hard to maintain.
1. Emphasize your strengths and delegate!
Gone are the days of "his" and "hers" wedding tasks. Is your groom undoubtedly the foodie of the two? Have him head up the search for the caterer and sample the cakes. Is he the creative, artistic type? Let him explore invitation options and table centerpieces. Are you a musician and have strong opinions about what constitutes acceptable tunes? Book the band and set the playlist yourself. By harnessing each of your strengths onto duties where you naturally flourish, the planning process will become more fun and the outcome fantastically unique.
2. When gridlock occurs, ask questions first.
Power struggle. Read these two words and note that they are likely at play when you both have drawn your line firmly in the sand. Couples often get caught up in fighting for their victory, simply because it's habit and it feels better to win than lose. Instead, try to see things from his perspective before defending your own. Ask what led him to feel so strongly about this? What outcomes does he hope to accomplish? How would it feel if he missed out on this? The answers might surprise you. Shifting the focus from winning to understanding the issues is an effective way to break the standoff. Often a compromise will emerge. And more importantly, the relationship will remain intact.
3. Maintain emotional congruence.
Conflict will arise when one or both of you has a rigid pre-conceived notion of how your nuptials "should" be, and it's often influenced by outside factors. Rather than focusing on the "shoulds" or societal expectations that so often are attached to a wedding, make an effort for both you and your partner to pay attention to your inner voice. It is easy to become swept up in wanting to please relatives, vying for acceptance, or trying to fit the mold of what others may expect from you based on outside factors, like career, income bracket, family, lifestyle, and personality. Head this off by talking with your partner about your idea of what others expect. Are the expectations unrealistic? Are pressures from outside sources real, or are they inflated in your own mind? Discuss together what you think others expect, and what each of you feel are your "shoulds." Next, shift the focus to looking within to find out what matters to you. If there were no consequences, no preconceived notions, what would you envision? Take time to reflect on your own thoughts and listen to your instincts as your guide.
4. Let your partner influence you.
Are you feeling like emotional road-kill after a talk with your bridesmaid? Is your head spinning about the nuances of dinner seating arrangements? Now is the time to cuddle up to your involved, opinionated groom and allow him to help with your concerns. Often, he'll provide you with a perspective you hadn't considered. By talking about your worries, you will get emotional support from your guy, while showing your deep respect for his perspective. And your highly involved groom? He'll be glad that you value his opinion, and in return will be more likely to listen to your advice when he needs guidance.
An involved groom makes for an involved husband, and that is a predictor in marital satisfaction. So while it may have come as a shock to find your groom passionate about the wedding planning process, it's helpful to see it for what it is. He cares about your wedding, he cares about you, and yes, it's his big day, too.
Follow Dr. Shannon Kolakowski on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrShannonK