Aisle Be Seeing You?

29 May

Letterbalm Formal Wedding AisleDear LetterBalm: My girlfriend and I recently got engaged. She’s a great person, and I know we’ll be happy together because we’re compatible in all the important things, including that our families and friends are happy about us being together. We’ve set our wedding for next Spring, but the way things are going, I’m worried about whether we’ll get married at all. I’ll be happy with a small service, not necessarily in a church. I wouldn’t even mind eloping. But my fiancée is adamant she wants the full treatment – formal rehearsal dinner, big wedding party and church ceremony and fancy reception with all the trimmings. My fiancée and I and our families can afford a big bash, so money isn’t the issue. I don’t like the ostentatiousness and wastefulness of it all. I’m afraid our commitment will get lost in all the trappings. But she won’t let it go. What can we do?

— Uneasy Groom

It looks like you and your fiancée are facing the first serious test of your impending life together. How well you resolve this will suggest the tone of your marriage. So, Ms. L.B. cautions you to tread carefully. First, ignore advice from family and friends; you don’t need more opinions. Have a private, loving talk with your fiancée and ask her several key questions. Listen and don’t interrupt, even if you disagree with her answers. Your goal is to separate her needs, which are more serious, from her wants, on which she can compromise. Both of you should get what you need, but not at the expense of the other person.  You must see where your needs and wants align with hers (and, suggest premarital couples counseling):

Natalie, we’ve been going at each other about our wedding, and I know it’s the first big fight we’ve ever had. I’m as demoralized about this as you are. Honey, can I ask you a couple of questions about things that have been bothering me? Why is a big wedding important to you? [Listen.] O.K. I get that. What are the wedding things you absolutely need, you must have? [Listen.] What are the wedding things that you want, stuff you can compromise on? [Listen.] It looks like we’ll have to make compromises so that both of us get what we need, but not at the expense of the other person. I have an idea that I think you might like: Since we have time before the wedding, let’s book some sessions with a couples counselor. An impartial expert might help us with this and other things that could come up after we get married. Look, I love you and I know you love me. Let’s do this for us.

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