There’s an old saying that if your relationship can survive the stress of the wedding planning, your marriage will endure anything. It certainly does seem, even from the perspective of couples who have been married for decades, that few eras in your relationship will be as fraught with emotional turmoil as the one leading up to your wedding. So you should be prepared for the fights that you’re likely to have before the big day.
1. You Just Don’t Care About Our Wedding!
This fight is usually precipitated by the bride-to-be asking her betrothed a seemingly innocuous question such as ‘What should our wedding colors be?’ The groom-to-be might suggest something like, ‘Dallas Cowboy Blue and Silver’ and when the bride turns up her nose, he might foolishly say ‘I really just don’t care. Whatever colors you pick are fine.’ He thinks he’s being reasonable; he thinks that letting his bride have her way is the only sure way to a peaceful resolution on this subject. But all she hears are the words ‘I don’t care.’ She wonders if his indifference towards the details of the wedding will translate into an indifference towards the eventual marriage. After all, the engagement period is one of tests and doubts; and you’re likely to read lifelong patterns into the smallest things. The savvy groom-to-be would know that he should both pretend to care what the wedding colors are, and that he thinks the your choices are exactly what he would have picked. But if he’s not so savvy, it might behoove you to forgive your man for this small defect, because he was not drawing wedding color schemes when he was in second grade.
2. I Hate Your Family.
This second, much more serious fight, usually comes up when the going gets rough. Either your mother is insisting on inviting too many guests, or his parents aren’t paying their fair share. Maybe his dad made an off-color remark, or your dad is casting threatening ‘You’re Not Good Enough For My Daughter’ looks. One of the highest hurdles on the way to the altar is to accept that you’re not just marrying your beloved; you’re marrying his or her family too. These foreign people are going to be a part of your life, year after year. Worse, these same strange people have the near-magical ability to render your usually competent and mature betrothed, into a six-year-old, with a few choice words. You want your man to stand up for you, but he’s reluctant to cause trouble with his family. He wants you to tell your crazy aunts to stop pinching his cheeks, but these are the same women who gave you candy and beat you with their purses, and nothing you say will make them change. The best thing to do when trying to resolve this argument is to remember that your wedding is the last opportunity either of your families will ever have to be so involved in your lives. Henceforth, you’re a couple, in the eyes of god and everybody, and it will be easier to draw boundaries to prevent family squabbles. For now, it may be best to grin and bear it.
3. The Bachelor and Bachelorette Party.
You don’t want him dancing with strippers and showing up to the rehearsal dinner with the hangover of a lifetime. He’s imagining a million undignified escapades that your friends might lure you into. Either way, it’s best to schedule these kinds of events a few months before the wedding when tensions are not so high. Otherwise, the fight about the Bachelor Party is really going to turn into a fight about why you had to be the one to mail all the invitations while he sat around playing World of Warcraft, and that can never go anywhere good. Ultimately though, this is an argument about trust. If you can’t work this one out, you shouldn’t get married.
4. The Ex.
Maybe you don’t see the harm in meeting your ex-boyfriend for lunch to tell him you’re getting married. Maybe your betrothed doesn’t see why he can’t invite his ex-girlfriend to the wedding, since they’re still such great friends. This fight has to do with coming to terms with the past, and focusing on the future. It’s inevitable that as you launch on a new life, your thoughts are going to turn to your old life. But this fight can spiral out of control if either of you forget the essential idea behind your wedding day: it’s about the two of you. If having your ex-boyfriend as one of the groomsmen is going to distract and agitate your groom-to-be, it’s not worth it. This is your day as a couple; leave the baggage behind.
Fighting is normal. If you don’t fight before the wedding, your relationship could be in more trouble than if you do. The arguments you have leading up to the wedding will help give you the skills to resolve conflicts with your spouse during the many years ahead. Think of it as an opportunity to learn how to face stressful situations together as a couple, and know that couples everywhere are having these same fights, and they’re not as bad as you think.