Preparing for marriage while planning a wedding

Preparation can help strengthen future relationship

Published: Sunday, March 25 2012 3:23 p.m. MDT

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Shutterstock, Shutterstock Image, shutterstock, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

The most popular engagement month is December, and the most popular wedding month is June, according to the 2010 Real Weddings Survey. So even though not a lot of people may be tying the knot right now, more wedding planning takes place this time of year than at any other.

But as engaged couples get to know their future in-laws, pick reception colors, select their wedding wardrobes and sample cake, more is going on — at least there should be, according to some who know wedding planning best.

Planning for a wedding is often the first major project that a couple takes on together, and the patterns established throughout the process will continue into the marriage.

"There are so many things that you have to address when you're planning a wedding that are similar to things that you're going to address throughout your marriage," said Ann Peterson, author of "Your LDS Wedding Planner." "If you can find a way of dealing with them in your wedding planning, how much better off will your marriage be?"

The wedding planning process gives participants the "first opportunity of seeing how you brainstorm, how you compromise, how you listen, how you negotiate, how you keep a sense of humor and sense of respect and love," psychologist Liz Hale said.

Communication

Learning to communicate effectively, navigate family relationships, budget finances and adapt to constantly changing circumstances are all areas that an engaged couple may experience that, with a little extra attention, could help strengthen the marriage before it even happens.

"I think marriage has become a sort of an amorphous concept for people," said Meg Keene, author of "A Practical Wedding" and creator of apracticalwedding.com. People may know they want to get married, she said, but they could be unsure of what marriage means to them or their partner, and it's important for them to discuss it.

She recommended that for every hour a couple spends going over wedding plans, they spend an hour talking about how they want to set up their marriage, including areas such as finances, family and faith.

"Make sure that you ask questions even when you think you know the answer," Keene said. "You think that you know exactly how your future spouse feels about finance or prayer or whatever, and then when you really sit down and start to have that conversation, you often find out surprising things, and those are the really interesting things that are important to know."

Even if the answers don't reveal anything new, just the experience and the time spent communicating is still valuable, Peterson said.

"Have you ever gone into a party and felt awkward, and then you just feel awkward the whole rest of the night? But if you went in feeling great, you'll make friends," she said. "If you go into a marriage already with poor communication skills, it's a lot harder to dig yourself out of that hole."

Practicing open, honest communication is good for resolving conflicts during wedding planning.

"Talk to each other. Talk to everyone face to face, not around the back door," Peterson said. "You'll get things resolved quicker, and it'll be less of a problem. And it'll strengthen your marriage, because if you're able to maintain good relationships with everybody, then you'll be able to maintain a better relationship with your spouse as well."

Managing conflict

Conflicts can happen no matter how good the communication is and how agreeable each partner is being. But some conflict can actually be a good thing.

"There are a lot of tensions and sometimes fights that take place around wedding planning that I think our instinct is to ignore or to make it easier to make them go away, and I think that it's actually very important that you go through them," Keene said.

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