Wedding planning is a phase of life that is really exciting, and it can also place strain on your relationships at times. Your fiancé wants to have his bachelor party where? Your mother thinks you should invite who? Your mother thinks you should wear what? And so on. There are different ways in which these tricky scenarios play out, depending on your relationship style. To keep wedding woes from hurting your relationships with your partner, friends and relatives, a good starting point is to think about the way you tend to react to conflict.
When it comes to relationships, there are three basic ways of reacting to stressful situations:
Moving Toward People: You seek out others to help you feel safe and secure in times of stress. Other people help you feel protected, and you seek reassurance by pleasing others. The downside is that you end up blaming yourself for every conflict, meanwhile neglecting your own needs. People describe you as humble, trusting and giving. With wedding planning stress, you might struggle to please everyone and end up feeling overwhelmed or selfish if you ask for help.
Moving Away from People: You tend to retreat and withdraw from people when tension occurs. You pride yourself on being self-sufficient, independent, and yet sometimes your detachment occurs with a sense of numbing or avoiding how you really feel. When it comes to conflict in wedding plans, you might find yourself avoiding talking about the planning, wanting to push back the date, or feeling less close to your partner or relatives.
Moving Against People: You prefer to be in charge and in control of the situation. You tend to go on the offensive, with a sense that it's better to attack others before they can attack you. You may blame others for your problems, be less trusting of others, and be described as intimidating. Wedding planning can be a struggle if you find that you are fighting more with others and feeling more irritable.
Is it possible to use all three styles of relating to others, and to strike a healthy balance? Absolutely! In fact, being flexible in how you handle conflict, depending on the situation, is a sign of good coping ability. For instance, when negotiating price with the caterer, it can be healthy to be comfortable with some level of conflict in order to stand your ground about pricing. When handling a friend who is hurt that she is going through a break-up, while you're happily getting married, it's a great skill to be able to be there for her and put her needs first. When you're getting overwhelmed by the stress of too many people calling about the wedding, it's good to be able to get some distance and not feel the need to return the calls right away. Balancing your ways of relating to others by being flexible allows you to address each situation and respond accordingly.
If you tend to rely more heavily on one style more than others, worry not. Here are some ways to strike that balance.
If You Tend to Move Towards People: Remember that it's virtually impossible to please everyone. In many ways, it is a struggle for you to keep up with everyones needs all at once. Remind yourself that your needs are a priority, too. Let people know what they can do to help you with the wedding. Remember that relationships are a two-way street, so asking your best friend to help you address invitations is totally called-for, and putting your own preferences first is ok. Find ways that you can feel good about being independent. Having a tough time deciding which dress to wear? Go try on wedding gowns by yourself and decide on your own what you feel best wearing.
If You Tend to Move Away From People: Sure, avoiding conflict can work well in many cases. But withdrawing and not letting people know how you feel can also end up making you feel worse. To approach a difficult situation, such as differing opinions about getting married in a church or outdoors, pick a time and place with your guy to have a discussion about different solutions. He can't read your mind and shouldn't be expected to do so. Letting someone know how you feel can be as simple as saying, "I'm having trouble knowing what to do, and I'd like to work on it together."
If You Tend to Move Against People: You worry that if you don't stand your ground strongly, people will take advantage of you, knock you down and trample all over you. The downside to intimidating others is that it ends up pushing them even farther away. Do you think your fiancé or in-laws won't listen unless you yell? Try asking them questions first to see their point of view before you share yours. Paying attention to your tone of voice is helpful as well. Yelling is off-putting to just about anyone. By adopting a gentler, more inviting tone of voice, people actually will listen more readily to you.
By being mindful of how you relate to others, and what situations push your buttons, the stress you go through in wedding prep can be minimized. When you're able to address conflict when opinions differ, you set the tone for future interactions with your partner and family to be handled in an effective, honest way. Finding a compromise to a tricky situation and being will to hear out your partner, but also be heard, is very satisfying.
As you move past the bumps in the road and the stress decreases, you can move on to the more fun wedding details, with relationships intact.