When you weren’t planning for your wedding, managing emotions might have been “manageable” if not even fun. Now, though, you’re dealing with people you normally don’t interact with and many of these people are asking you to make decisions and do things that are out of your normal “real” world. You will feel emotions you hadn’t felt before. Old buttons will be pressed. How you and your partner handle these emotional experiences will influence how you deal with emotions after the last “thank you” note is sent. To give you further insight into your relationship with emotions, consider these questions. Which ones describe you? Your partner?
1. Do you frequently end arguments by saying, “That’s just how I feel”?
2. Do you believe your partner should know how you feel about him or her without having to tell your partner?
3. Do you look to your partner to make you feel happy?
4. Do you use the word “feel” more often than the word “think” or “believe”?
5. Do you call yourself “stupid” after making a mistake?
6. Are there feelings you have that you don’t like because you think it’s wrong to have them?
7. Do you think feelings are inferior to logic?
8. Do you think if you say something once, then that should be enough?
9. Do you think your partner’s feelings are as important as yours?
10. Do you care how people feel when you express your feelings?
11. Do you feel overwhelmed by your feelings?
If you answered, “yes” to four or more of these questions, then the stress of wedding planning will gnaw at your nerves!
The following tips will help you manage your emotions and in doing so help you and your partner navigate those unexpected moments that will stun you with their infuriating oddity and dysfunctionality.
• Identify what triggered whatever it is you’re feeling. It doesn’t take much to trigger a feeling. It’s easy to say that you don’t know why you feel the way you do. If you don’t know why, then is it fair to lash out at your partner? Having your partner be aware of what specifically he or she said or did (or did not do) will let them engage you. Avoid sweeping generalizations. Again, pinpoint what has set off what you’re feeling.
• Recognize what you’re feeling. For most people life is bone-crushing fast and jam-packed. Although we’re constantly feeling, it may seem like we’re not because we’ve trained ourselves not to pay attention. Be aware of what you’re emotionally experiencing (check that word list from Chapter 9). The more aware you are, the more you’ll be able to help your partner be aware.
• Share the mixed feelings you have. We seldom feel just one way. You might appreciate your mother’s efforts to help and at the same time be annoyed that she calls four times a day. More times than not it’s just easier to express the “negative” feelings, which are usually the stronger, without sharing any of the others. Help your partner (relative, friend) get as full a sense of what you’re experiencing, by letting them know all of what you’re feeling. “I’m happy that you want to help out AND I’m feeling overwhelmed with all your phone calls.”
• Recognize the difference between feeling and acting. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad. They just are. Don’t feel guilty about what you’re feeling. However, your responsibility is to manage those feelings in such a way that they don’t exhaust you, drive you to distraction or cause hurt.
• Express your feelings clearly, without understating, overstating. Remember that telling your partner you’re “a little annoyed” tells him or her nothing. Your partner (or relative, friend) simply isn’t capable of figuring out on his or her own what “a little” actually means. On the other hand, leave the melodrama to your fav reality show—avoid those Bridezilla instincts.
• Choose the best time and place to express your feelings. There’s a time and place for everything and making your partner look like a jerk in front of a vendor isn’t the right time and place.