Today, I want to talk about something a little different. Something that’s a hard thing to talk about. But something that I see most of my clients work through in some capacity.
Moms. Dads. Step-parents. Partners. Guardians.
The people we grew up learning from, listening to and often looking up to.
photo by Danielle Coons Photography
The wedding planning process brings out a lot of sides to people. Depending on how an individual deals with stress, some people get quiet, others get loud. Some bottle it all in and eventually explode. Others snap every five minutes. Emotions, harsh words, things you don’t mean… they all can sneak out.
Before I go any further, I want to share my story.
My mother has been my biggest supporter, #1 fan, best friend and role model my entire life. I was, and hope to still be, her mini-me. We share a lot of the same likes and dislikes, react to things very similarly and due to the fact that our birthdays are just 23 days apart, share a lot of those horoscope tendencies (like being perfectionists, planners, and maybe a tad stubborn in our ways).
My mother and I are both strong, Type-A personalities. We like to be in control of our personal environments. The thought of being spontaneous without a plan makes us anxious to our core, though we’ll do our best to smile through it. We show up to movies and just about any appointment we have ridiculously early, just in case. And we love doing things for others, often more-so than doing anything for ourselves.
What all of this means though is that when we’re together, experiencing the challenges of life, instead of seeing the similarities in each other and relating, we butt heads. HARD.
I can’t speak for my Mom, but when I see her reacting as I would/do/am, I get annoyed. I get frustrated. I want to help her, but can’t because I’m feeling the same things. This makes me snap at her. Which makes me feel guilty. That guilty feeling lingers making me more anxious. When I get anxious, my mom does too. And two anxious people bouncing off each other’s energy is a very bad recipe.
It’s a vicious cycle.
When you’re planning a wedding, there are certain similarities you share with your parents that are going to come out. But because of natural generational differences, there are going to be things that you don’t see eye-to-eye on. Trends, etiquette, ideas. These are all things that are changing at lightning-speed.
When our parents were getting married, their parents were heavily if not solely involved on planning their 1970s and 1980s weddings.
2015 is a much different story.
Couples want to have a say. They want to feel like it resembles them as a couple. After all, these pictures are likely going to get Instragramed and dear goodness, we can’t bear the thought of having a traditional “bride and groom” cake topper when there are 4,000,000 cuter options on Etsy.
But our parents will dig in their heels. They will stand up for the things that they feel should happen or how something should look.
And it’s not easy. You want to be respectful of your parents and handle the situation as gracefully as Princess Kate would. But, the reality is that doesn’t always happen. Heck, let’s face it. When emotions are involved, it almost never happens.
You snap. You give attitude. That same attitude that came out when you were 14 and just wanted to go on one measly date with a boy in your class. You see the hurt in their eyes and get more angry. Not at them, but with yourself. That usually makes you snap at your partner, because now you’re just ticked at the world. Which makes you wonder why you even decided to have this big wedding in the first place. Wouldn’t eloping have just been easier?!?!
Really. It’s a vicious cycle.
But you’re not alone. We all experience this in some capacity.
Here’s what I recommend.
(And I know it’s not easy.)
Take a step back.
Remember that, while, yes, this is YOUR wedding and YOUR day, that it’s also a day that your parent/guardian/loved one has been thinking about from the moment that you were born. They’ve thought about how fast you were going to grow up and one day go off and marry someone special and, suddenly, that moment is here.
They may not admit it, but they are freaking out a little bit. You are older, which means they are getting older. They may already be grandparents or thinking that that’s next for them. They are inviting their friends and family to witness this wedding and whether you like it or not, they have an idea in their head as to how it’s all going to happen and what it’s going to look like.
Take a step back.
If you have children, think of what you’d be doing if you were them. If you don’t, try to put yourselves in their shoes. See it from their perspective.
More often than not, our family members only want what’s best for us. They want to do whatever they can to make us happy. But they are human and no human is perfect. Their thoughts and emotions come out differently than we see in the movies and no where near like a Hallmark card. They come out in ways that make us angry, that make us lash out, that make us look like teenagers again.
That’s what parents do. But they love us. And they love you more than anything on the planet.
So when things are hitting the fan and you feel yourself starting to get annoyed with the fact that your Mom is saying “I just don’t understand why we need to have a mashed potato bar”, take a step back. Talk through things with her. Explain why a mashed potato bar is the BEST thing in the universe. Explain why you and your fiancé bonded for the first time over a spud with some sour cream and chives – and THAT’S why there must be a mashed potato bar at the wedding.
Talk through things. Take a step back. Take a breath. Remember they are coming from a good place and love us to bits.
That, my lovely friends, is not easy. But will make the world of a difference to both of you.