How To Stay Sane While Planning for Your Wedding!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Arguing With The Mind vs. The Heart Part 2

Studies show that the most successful relationships are the ones where the couple are similar enough that they comfortingly compliment each other and different enough that they invitingly challenge each other.

Now this is certainly true with this couple.  He is a person by dint of personality and profession (engineer) who values logic.  She is a person by dint of personality and profession (sales) who values feelings.  He spots specifics and she stares at the panorama.

He thinks logic is going to win the day because that is how logic is supposed to work.  However, as soon as she begins to feel that he’s clobbering her with facts, she shuts down.  “What’s the use?  He’s not interested in what I have to say” is her mantra.  And he becomes frustrated when he sees her give up.  He wants her to fight for her ideas.  He’s a competitor and that’s what competitors do!

They’ve created dance steps, patterns, rituals for arguing and those steps are now like the air they breathe.  They presume, “well, that’s just the way we are.”  Hmm. . .not exactly.

The quality of a relationship is based on the quality of the communication in the relationship.  If you are unhappy in a relationship then one of the chief reasons is because of the communication that is taking place.

I asked the groom, “when you’re in an argument, do you notice that she’s becoming more passive?”  “Yes.”  “Then, why do you persist with the logic, the reasons?”  “I want her to see it my way.”  “Does she ever come out of her passive state and say, ‘you’re right—I wasn’t thinking straight.’”  “No.”  “Never?  Then why do you persist?”

And I asked the bride, “in an argument, what’s your goal?”  “To get what I want.”  “And how do you do that?”  “I plead and then when I get frustrated, I just ask, ‘what do I have to do to get X?”  “And do you ask in a pleasant tone of voice or do you have attitude?” 
Smiles all around.
“Do you pout; cross your arms, and make it sound like a demand if not an ultimatum?”
She actually looked shocked that I knew!

80% of what we respond to in a conversation is not what is said, but how it is said.  She tuned him out when he started to lecture.  He tuned her out when she started to pout.
No one likes a know-it-all and no one likes a whiner.

So, what to do?  It is not possible to magically change personality.  Nor is there any reason to do so.
Choices can be made in how to communicate.

She needs to understand that “because it feels good” is not a reason that is going to advance her cause.  How do you respond to a “reason” like that?

He needs to understand that people don’t always make decisions based on what is most logical.  He needs to help her explore her feelings so as to help her understand what she is thinking.  And, she needs to help him explore his thoughts so as to help him understand what he is feeling.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Arguing With The Mind vs. The Heart

 Last week a couple came to me for pre-marital counseling.
The bride was uneasy—everything was fine, so what are they doing here with me?  I explained that my approach is from a communications angle. I don’t have a structured format.  Rather, I invite a couple to reflect on their styles of communicating—individually and together.  What works?  What doesn’t?
I ask a couple to give me some real life moments and we can use those to explore ways to improve their communication, and so improve the quality of their life—especially now, during this time when there is an abundance of stress.
The bride was still uneasy.  Everything’s good—though at times, she said, she “might” be a bit too passive in their arguments—especially when he becomes his usual pigheaded self!  Hmm. . .
The groom readily admitted that he’s competitive and enjoys arguing even when he knows he’s wrong.  He admitted this is true even with his fiancĂ©e.

I asked the bride if she enjoyed arguing with him when he was in the “zone.”  She didn’t—she hated it.  But, she said it didn’t matter as she just shuts down and lets him have his way.
The groom jumped in, saying that he hated it when she shut down.
I asked if he heard why she shuts down.  Yes, but. . .
“Then why do you do it?” the bride demanded.  “I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
“I don’t want to argue.  All I want is to get what I want,” the bride matter-of-factly explained. 
“There, that’s the kind of attitude I don’t like.  I feel like she’s disrespecting me,” said the groom.  “She doesn’t take what I say seriously.  I explain things logically to her.  I give her the reasons why we need to do something a certain way and she ignores everything I say.”
“Is that true?” I asked.  “Do you ignore?  Do you intend to disrespect him?”
“I know what he’s going to say—I just don’t want to hear it.  I don’t want to know the reasons why I can’t have something when I feel I should have it.  The problem is he thinks with his head and I think with my heart.  He doesn’t respect me when he doesn’t listen to why I want something.”
Exasperated, the groom, tossed out, “she doesn’t have any reasons for anything.  All she has are just feelings.”

Let me freeze frame here—does any of this sound familiar?  I want to point out that the couple were very polite in the way they spoke to each other—this was not a shouting match.  However, they clearly felt frustrated.

So, let me try to distill an hour and a half conversation into some manageable thoughts. 

to be continued. . .

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vows and Nerves

When creating a wedding ceremony one of the main issues I discuss with a couple is the vows. Ironically, most couples are most nervous about this element. Couples often tell me that they don’t like standing in front of people who are looking at them.

Hmm ... well, that’s going to be a hard one to get around at a wedding with any guests.

Many couples op to repeat their vows after me. I say the vows in a low voice, so as not to be heard by the guests, and then hope that the couple will say them in a louder voice-which isn’t always the case.

Some couples want to write their own vows. Many couples, though, are afraid to write their vows for fear that they’ll sound “cheesy.” I can honestly say that I’ve never heard vows that I thought were “cheesy.” Granted, some were more eloquently worded than others, yet all were poignant.

How great it is that you have someone in your life who compels you to search deep in your heart for words that express the passion of your commitment.

Be nervous about hundreds of eyes staring at you—don’t be nervous about saying something cheesy ... the committed heart is not able to offer cheesy sentiments.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Is It Okay If We_____?"

Often times couples will ask me, “is it okay if we ?” And that blank is filled in with a wildly imaginative assortment of ideas. Thumb through contemporary wedding planning books and you’ll notice that tradition is adapting to many modem inclinations. I officiated a wedding where the bride had a “man-of-honor” and the groom had a “best woman.” Another bride, whose father was deceased, had her mother escort her down the aisle. A shy groom, who was a musician, wrote a song for his bride and sang it in place of “saying” his own vows.

These are visuals that broke with tradition and yet added immeasurable warmth and texture to their ceremonies.

I really haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen enough to know that the whacky sometimes can add to the sweetness of the day-whether the couple plans the wackiness or not.
A few memories that still make me smile ...

• The bride who walked down the aisle to the blaring of The Star Wars theme. Yes, it did have an other-worldly feel to it.
• The bride who did somersaults down the aisle (she was in her 40’s). More than feeling stunned, I was amazed that she could do them while wearing a slim-cut evening dress.
• The bride who planned her wedding, guided by her astrological chart. She determined that the vows had to be said beginning exactly at 5:59 PM. I had a friend stand off to the comer and flag me when it was time.
• And then there was the couple who had their wedding in the backyard of their new home. As a symbol of their pledge to wholeheartedly “take the plunge” they jumped into the pool after I pronounced them married.

“Is it okay if we ___?” Well, yes ... since a wedding celebrates you-in all your glory and uniqueness. The only thing you “have” to do is say your vows—though I have had nervous couples ask me if they actually had to say their vows!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

If You Could Read My Mind

  Ray Soemarsono of Apertura

As you know, the wedding planning process is laced with stress. And often times stress bubbles up from unrealistic expectations.

Studies have shown that the longer we’ve known someone, the more we love someone, the more we expect that person to know us so well that we don’t have to tell them what we’re thinking. As whacky as it sounds, we expect them to be able to read our mind!

When meeting with couples for pre-marital coaching, I hear classic phrases such as, “Why do I have to ask him? He should know without me asking.” “She said she didn’t care. How was I supposed to know that this was a big deal to her?”

In the midst of “should” and “why” and “supposed to” it’s vital to remember that your partner is many wonderful things, BUT, he / she is not a mind reader. And even though they can’t read your mind, they still do love you!

There are many people who will play games with you as you plan for your wedding. Please don’t play games with each other.

If you need your partner to know how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking or needing, let them know. Don’t blame; don’t accuse. Just tell them.
And if you’re not sure what it is your partner is saying, ask for clarification. Admit that you don’t understand.

Here are some non-mind-reading phrases:

“I need you to know that____.”
“I’m feeling _____ right now and I need you to_______.”
“I want to help and I’m not sure how. What can I do?”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say______.”
“Are you sure everything is good because you look _______. Are you?”

Be kind to each other and don’t try to read each other’s mind.

Friday, April 1, 2011

i carry your heart

Picotte Photo

i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Edward Estlin Cummings

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Intimate Ceremonies

Victor Sizemore Photography

This month I’ve officiated two weddings where the guest count for each was around twenty people. One was held at the couple’s backyard. They had warned me of potential plane noise from John Wayne airport; however, they hadn’t warned me about their neighbor’s gardener and his jet-propulsion sounding lawn mower!

Later, the couple expanded their celebration to include seventy friends who gathered at a nearby restaurant. The couple hired a live band that kept them partying into the early hours.

The other ceremony took place at Greystone Manor, a historic landmark in Beverly Hills dating back to the 1920’s. The couple opted to use an i-pod for music and, of course, for “some reason” it didn’t work as well as expected.

Later, tucked away in a fragrant garden corner, the couple sat with their families at a shabby-chic table for a wedding feast worthy of its English Gothic setting.

There really is no one way to celebrate a wedding. Each couple, though, created its own sweet, warm, fun, and funny magic because. . .

A. Each couple had a clear sense of what they wanted their day to look like—and feel like.
B. Each groom fully participated; he didn’t just “show up.”
C. Each couple gave long, hard thought to whom they wanted at their ceremony. Those people, in ways known and unknown to them, helped each couple come to this moment in time.

And, finally, everyone present created magic because their love and joy was louder than any lawn mower or a whispering i-pod!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being A Groom

I recently met with a couple and the groom really impressed me. . .he knew how long they’ve been together (!) and he had clear thoughts about what he wanted the ceremony to be about and he even knew the color of the groomsmen’s bowties!

I always remind a couple that a wedding is their celebration of their life together and that it is not the bride’s coronation. I feel disappointed when a groom shrugs his shoulders, smiles, and says, “whatever she wants is fine with me.” No! That’s not what this is about. Granted, a groom doesn’t have to go to the florist, but. . .

Michael, the groom in this photo, worked with his bride, Melody, in creating their wedding day. And as corny as it sounds, the satisfaction and joy and so much more of all that “work” is what this photo captures.

You can hear me talk more about grooms and their weddings by going to Get Married at:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Love Is All About

Another thought from THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. . .

“I’ve never forgotten something I read in college, by Pierre Reverdy: ‘There is no love; there are only proofs of love.’ Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only in my actions.”

Hmm. . . Good words to keep in mind as you think you’re going to lose your mind from all the stress of planning!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Welcoming Love

~ Linda Lee Elrod ~
When I met you, I had no idea
how much my life
was about to be changed...
but then, how could I have known?

A love like ours happens
once in a lifetime.
You were a miracle to me,
the one who was everything
I had ever dreamed of,
the one I thought existed
only in my imagination.

And when you came into my life,
I realized that what I
had always thought
was happiness
couldn't compare to the joy
loving you brought me.

You are a part of everything
I think and do and feel,
and with you by my side,
I believe that anything is possible.
(this day) gives me a chance
to thank you for the miracle of you...
you are, and always will be,
the love of my life.

This poem was read at a wedding I officiated.  The bride was fifty years old.  Long ago she had resigned herself to the "fact" that she would never marry.  And then, along came the man who is now her husband.  They reminded me that all things are possible for those who keep their hearts open to love. . .

Monday, January 10, 2011

Desperately Romantic

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

When Harry Met Sally

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How To Be Happy While Planning Your Wedding

Over the holidays, while blizzard-bound in NYC, I read “The Happiness Project.” It is Gretchen Rubin’s accounting of what she did during the course of a year to expand her ability to take pleasure and happiness in her life. She has some wonderful musings on marriage, commitment, and love.
While this passage speaks to her marriage, it also speaks to what you need to keep in mind as you plan your wedding.

"When thinking about happiness in marriage, you may have an almost irresistible impulse to focus on your spouse, to emphasize how he or she should change in order to boost your happiness. But the fact is, you can’t change anyone but yourself. A friend told me that her “marriage mantra” was, “I love Leo, just as he is.” I love Jamie just as he is. I can’t make him do a better job of doing household chores, I can only stop myself from nagging—and that makes me happier. When you give up expecting a spouse to change (within reason), you lessen anger and resentment, and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

“What marriages work the best? The ones where partners acknowledge, validate and appreciate each other continuously.”

While the above quote applies to couples married, it also applies to couples engaged—especially those who are actively planning their wedding.

On this first day of the new year, I encourage you to be kind with each other as you make your way through the wacky world of wedding planning.

How you treat each other during this time is how you will treat each other the time after your wedding. Your life together has already begun.

I wish you a happy new year—a year of new blessings, new happiness, new dreams.