Hey there darlin’
You might be surprised to discover I coach engaged couples, heading down the aisle to married life. You might greet that concept with doubt (why are they getting married if they have relationship problems?) or with fear (if THAT lovely fab couple needs relationship help?!?) and even disdain (I would NEVER marry someone, if they relationship wasn’t perfect!).
Too often in our society, ‘asking for help’ and seeking out relationship counseling/coaching/therapy, can have quite the stigma attached. And that stigma comes, not just from people outside, but internally, within ourselves. People tend to think that getting some assistance is tied to failure, defeat or epic seismic problems. And then, worse, they wait for failure, defeat and epic seismic problems to come knocking on their door before seeking help. One of the many areas I see this stigma and these problems playing out, is with engaged couples. If I could have one wish granted by a genie, it would be that MORE couples asked for help LONG BEFORE they are starting to brush up on CSI episodes, so no one finds the body.
There is a lot of pressure to make this ascent to the throne of marriage as magical and perfect as possible. Visually, from picking the perfect flowers, to perfect dress, the perfect food, the perfect for the big day to the union itself being Teflon perfect and the only emotion sent an invite to attend, BLISS. Beware; Perfection is an insidious beetch, throwing shade like a boss on your every move. Perfection is the most addictive and mystifying of illusions, no matter how many times us mere humans are shown it does not exist, we still strive hardAF to attain. Perfectionism is the ever present homewrecker of self-worth, self-love and lasting love.
The really smart cookies in this life have learned that perfectionism is not their friend. That a strong foundation is built with care, with attention to detail and with addressing any naturally occurring hairline cracks promptly and compassionately. AND, let’s be real here, the run up to the big day can be a breeding ground for stress, nitpicking, doubt, fear, resentment, perfectionism and that’s all before you add in your family. Yikes! For many, it’s the single most important decision and day of your life. I meet couples all the time, who wholeheartedly have made the decision to join together in marriage, who were star pupils in the love game and after a few months of wedding planning, are looking for somewhere in case they need bury a body! So welcome! You are in the best of company, my dear.
Here is my 3 step hit list for engaged couples working their way to the alter.
STEP 1 - Keep your eye on the prize. And, check it doll, the prize is not the dress! Its really REALLY easy to lose sight and to get lost in the numerous important details that go into planning a wedding, and instead keep first and foremost in your heart and mind, that if all else fails (the caterer’s truck breaks down, the dress rips, the grooms mother is catty, the brides father is drunk by 10am, the flowers wilt) that AS LONG AS YOU BOTH SHOW UP ON THAT DAY, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. You are here to pledge your heart, your soul and your spirit to this person, for all to see, for the rest of your lives. Focus on that. Ask yourself, will this detail physically stop us from loving each other and getting married on the day? There are a whole lotta ‘worst that can happen’ fears swirling in your mind HOWEVER the worst thing that really can happen, is one of you doesn’t show up. I have seen weddings plod on sensationally in the face of ‘wrong flowers’, meltdown ring bearers, outrageous best man speeches, warring mother-in-law’s, but I have never seen a wedding where either of the brides, grooms or bride and grooms didn’t show up, cross the finish line.
STEP 2 - It really is YOUR day. No, that is not the signal to unleash your inner Bridezilla. It is permission for YOU to decide what kind of day it’s going to be, my dear. And yes, that often includes the bespoke wedding ring design, the lush bedazzled table settings, the bad ass vintage ride you hired to get to the venue… BUT even if you lose control of all those things, no one and nothing can steal the joy from YOUR DAY. You CAN, however, give that joy away. It is completely within your power. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and yeah, I know the flowers are important, your sister is the nightmare wild card to be managed, and the photography will last a lifetime but take it from this married lady, the photos of our wedding day, though glorious, do not compare to the overall feeling of happiness and joy I get when I think of our fab wedding day and when I remember how much fun I had on that day! Even when the band fucked up one of the songs, my sister kicked off, my dad went missing for a few hours, the amazing vintage trolley we used to transport the family had a driver that was wearing sweat pants and a stained T-shirt (WTF?!)… At every twist and turn, I chose and chose again, to have THE BEST DAY. I reached right back out for Step 1, I only had eyes for the prize!! Go for the joy of the moment. All that other window dressing will pale in your memory to the laughs you shared with friends and family, the dancing, the way your face actually hurt from smiling so much. Believe that.
STEP 3 - Find your voice. Cold feet, wedding jitters, second guessing are all natural. Voice them. Sometimes even speaking them aloud releases them from the festering neighborhood of the mind. Couples who come to one another, voice their concerns and allow a space for their partner to have a voice, know that the arena of communication, when staged with love and compassion, is their special, safe space. The cold feet might be warmed OR might be confirmed. It will be better for both of you, to find out, now. Voice your intentions, your wants and needs for your wedding day. Let your partner have a voice! Ask them what is important to them to have at the wedding. You might be surprised at what you learn. I think, stereotypically in heterosexual relationships, we assume the man wants nothing to do with the planning. You’re wrong. Oh, sure he could care less what hue of purple the napkins are but allowing your partner the space to lay claim to some details, like music, food or hey maybe the hue of purple, will rejoin you, shoulder to shoulder as partners in this momentous occasion as well. Straight killing resentment, when it shows up whispering “You’re doing ALL the work” or “By the looks of it, I bet he/she doesn’t even care if you get married” and “Why do YOU have to EVERYTHING around here??”. Send resentment right to voicemail, FAST. And my same sex lovelies, I am looking at you too! I know, the hue of purple is LIFE to you but honey, gay or not, he still might care less about that detail. So stop driving him mad by laying out multi coloured napkins at dinner every night for him to consider. When you know in advance what matters to each other, you can coordinate, delegate and be confident to steam ahead with our own ideas, solo. Oh! I also suggest you ‘voice your veto’ ability, in case they have always dreamed of a sad clown performing at the cocktail hour. Not today, Satan… not today!
For some of my engaged clients, they have one or two lingering issues they NEED resolved or at the very least be re-assured with the knowledge this issue can be worked on, to move ahead with confidence and love down that aisle. Others, have no doubt their partner is the right one, their relationship is solid however they also know, as good as it is, it could be even better! Some pick up tools they never knew existed, find their relationship better than they ever imagined and answer questions, they never even knew they had. One client said to me “I just knew, if we sought help now, we would be so ahead of the game versus digging ourselves out 10 or 20 years down the road”. So, let me ask you…. How much bliss do you want to invite to your wedding? ANDHow good do you want married life to be?