Wedding planning is a joyous time for a couple. But it's also a time when a countless number of big and little decisions have to be agreed upon by two people — people with different values, desires, needs and quirks. This can be a recipe for — to put it mildly — spirited disagreement.
Recalls *Janet, who recently moved her wedding date back six months to June 2015, "Before we got engaged *Dan and I never shouted at one another. Suddenly, with a tight deadline looming we found ourselves deadlocked and angry over every little detail of the wedding. It was horrible.
Fighting over wedding plans can be viewed as a dress rehearsal for the inevitable power struggles that arise after a couple says, "I do." Both the bride and groom-to-be have spent a lifetime putting their own needs first. All of a sudden each is expected to place more importance on the welfare and happiness of another human being — to exchange "I" for "we."
This is not an easy task. But through the process of creating a wedding that is not perfect, but perfect enough, you are learning the art of compromise and communication. Meaning both of you are building a durable foundation for a satisfying life together.
See More: The 10 Biggest Wedding Etiquette Don'ts
The best way to problem-solve rather than become tangled up in emotional and verbal knots is to address one area of dispute at a time. For instance — budget. To keep the discussion from devolving into an argument about everything from the time he kept you waiting at the catering hall to his annoyance with the deep sigh you give whenever he says the word "no" — focus strictly on budget!
That focused discussion might go thusly: each of you separately ranks all the items and services that feel most essential for your magical day. Compare lists — the items that show up on both (i.e.: great band) should be invested in more heavily than items that aren't as important to either of you. On items one person feels very strongly about, the other should give in, and vice versa. Thus a compromise crafted.
Keep in mind there is no right choice — it's all about wanting to make another person happy as well as yourself. A great resource that can help couples discuss, not dispute, when they have areas of disagreement: Take Back Your Wedding: Managing the People Stress of Wedding Planning
As for *Janet, she believes pushing back the wedding date was the smartest move she and her fiancé could have made. "The wedding was taking priority over our relationship. Rather than sacrifice the love we have for each other to plan the perfect event, we gave ourselves time and space to breathe. The wedding is important but in the grand scheme of things, it's just one day."
The way the couple now handles disagreements over planning the coming wedding is by remembering the priority is their life together, not the party that will proceed it. *Janet explains, "The worst arguments happened when we lost sight of what we were trying to accomplish as a team!
*Names have been changed
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW is a New York City-based marriage therapist and author.