Planning Your Wedding Part 3: Constructively Resolving Conflict

It’s common for family members to clash with the engaged couple (or one another) during a busy season of wedding planning. Weddings seem to provide endless opportunities for families to squabble about traditions, decor, music, and other minutiae down to the smallest details. Unfortunately, family members do this to the detriment of peace, and the bride and groom’s happiness.

Last week in part 2, we talked about the importance of boundaries–and how having strong boundaries can make your wedding planning process more enjoyable. But even with the healthiest of boundaries in place, conflict can still arise.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable and awkward to have a full-blown conflict while you’re trying to plan your wedding. Fortunately, there are ways to handle this constructively. Here’s how.

What if our families clash?

If at all possible, you want to work together to keep this conflict from escalating. Present a unified front as a couple, and don’t engage in gossip about any individuals who are behaving problematically. Finally, avoid siding with a family member to avoid the discomfort of saying no to them.

You might have to have a private, direct conversation with the person or persons who are creating drama. Explain that they’re very important to you and your fiance, but that this time is meant to be a time of happiness, celebration, and peace. Let them know how important it is to the two of you for your families to get along, especially during this time.

How can we encourage unity?

To promote the idea of unity between your families, emphasize the fact that not only are two individuals coming together; two families are, as well. Shut down gossip among and between families, and treat your family members and future in-laws with patience and kindness.

Some couples choose to emphasize familial coming-together and unity during their wedding ceremonies, in addition to the traditional “two become one” philosophy. Even though we’re meant to “leave and cleave” to our spouse once we’re married, it’s no secret that our families will be crossing paths from now on. Whether that happens often or seldom, a peaceful existence between the two is the most ideal outcome.

Can’t we just elope?

We understand how stressful it can be to have family members who don’t get along with each other, or who give you and your fiance grief for one reason or another. Some couples are tempted to elope in order to avoid any family-related issues.

For example, maybe one of your parents won’t give you their blessing (or you think they won’t). Or perhaps they have given their blessing, but the situation is still volatile for one reason or another.

Eloping to escape complications won’t prevent problems. In fact it could actually create something worse than what you might deal with otherwise. It isn’t productive to simply delay problems you’re going to have to face either way by running away.

At the very least give your families an opportunity to give you their blessing. Believe in the real possibility that things may not turn out as badly as you think they will. And if they still choose not to give you their blessing after you have given them the chance, the two of you can regroup and continue to move forward in another way.

What if we disagree?

Wedding planning conflict isn’t isolated to family members. It can also extend into your relationship. And sometimes, conflict with family during the wedding planning season can create unnecessary conflict between the two of you. The important thing is to realize that this is a possibility, and prepare to be proactive.

In other words, decide now how you’re going to respond to any potential conflict that develops between you. What will you do to keep your cool? Can you plan ahead to put the brakes on any issues that arise–before they get out of hand?

We can’t promise that you and your fiance will never have a disagreement during the planning phase, but if you do, you’ll be more equipped to handle it constructively.

Need more guidance?

If you and your fiance would like a little more guidance during this busy season of wedding planning, check out our book, Getting Ready for the Wedding. You’ll find even more specifics about how to successfully navigate the engagement period, all the way to your big day.

Are you and your fiance dealing with family conflict during your engagement? Conflict between the two of you? How are you navigating it? Let us know in the comments!

2 Comments

  • Maria Jiron says:

    I am a widow and about a year and a half after my husband passed away I started dating someone that I became very serious about. both my children knew I was dating but when it became serious neither one embrace my new relationship…neither one want to meet him. My son’s reasons are pretty black and white and it’s just an issue of time for him but my daughter has been very negative and unsupportive and now I’m at a point where the gentleman I’m dating has actually proposed and I accepted because both my children are adults over the age of 40, have their own children, have their own lives, and make their own choices and decisions about their lives and I don’t know fit into their plans or decision-making and I feel alone and I realize I don’t want to be alone while at the same time I still value and love my children and want a relationship for us all . I was married for 46 years and now I have no idea what to do.

    • Maria,
      I’m so sorry to hear of the emotional pressure and distress your children have put upon you, but am not surprised. Everyone is still grieving the death of your husband/their father. Generally, for most people, the grunt work of the grief journey is 2-3 years post death. I would recommend waiting another 6 to 12 months before you actually tie the knot.

      Your daughter is likely afraid that you are going to forget about her father- the only father she has ever known and replace him with this new guy. Of course you won’t do that I assume, but she needs to hear from you as often as it takes that no one could ever replace her Dad and the love of your life for all those years. Your son also needs time too as you’ve indicated yourself.

      Sit down with your children, meet for dinner somewhere and explain those things I’ve mentioned above. Emphasis on not replacing their Dad. Then segue into “you know I’ve been seeing________for the last _______ and we have grown quite close during that time. Recently _______proposed to me and I accepted. However we’re not running off anytime soon, in case you are wondering because the 3 of us are still grieving Daddy’s death. What I would ask of both of you is over the next 6-12 mo. That ____and you get to know each other. Dad and I discussed this very thing years ago and we both agreed that we would not want either of us sitting around alone just waiting to die. _____would very much like to meet and get to know the both of you……” and finish however you feel best.

      Hope this helps, best wishes to you.

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