Six Tips for Taming Fights During the Engagement Period
As you've probably already realized, being engaged is pretty wonderful. In addition to slowly coming down from the cloud that you landed on when your partner proposed, you might be rejoicing about the fact that the two of you get to embark on a lifetime together. At the same time, it's not uncommon to have arguments, especially given the stress that can arise when planning an event as large as a wedding. "Wedding planning can introduce the stressful dynamic of conflicting opinions and competing interests from future in-laws, family, friends, and even your fiancé, and underlying all of these new factors are the stressors of everyday living—your job, managing friendships, negotiating work-life balance, and relationship maintenance," explains Juliana Morris, a marriage and family therapist and licensed professional counselor. "Those factors alone can be a playground for conflicts to arise." The good news: It is absolutely possible to find a middle ground and reduce the amount of fights you have during your engagement. Here, relationship experts explain how.
Forget About Perfection
It's not our fault that all we see in movies and on social media is over-the-moon in-love engaged couples who can't get enough of each other in the months leading up to their wedding. But the reality is usually far from this blissful state. Yes, you'll have moments where you feel that level of joy with your partner, but it will also likely be interwoven with feelings of angst and frustration. "There is often the expectation that everything will fall right into place and when it doesn't, it creates worry and fear about the marriage," says Shelley Sommerfeldt, Psy.D., clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships. "Couples should try to let go of this concept of perfection and instead focus on the positive, which is their connection and commitment to one another as well as learning more about one another through this process."
Although communication is always important in relationships, it's especially true during the course of your engagement, according to Dr. Sommerfeldt. Instead of assuming that your partner's on the same page as you, actually sit down and have a well-thought-out discussion. "If you want your partner to be more involved in the wedding planning, then it's important to express that expectation," she says. "Communicating with one another and finding compromise is really key here."
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
There will be little things that your partner does over the course of your engagement, as well as your marriage, that might drive you bonkers. But try to keep in mind what matters and let go of what doesn't, like the fact that he can't seem to spell any of his relative's names right. "People can get caught up in the small details with wedding planning or family expectations when at the end of the day, that will not be what creates a lasting marriage," says Dr. Sommerfeldt. "It's important to stay focused on the connection between one another during this time and let go of some of the small stuff."
Learn to Compromise
This is a helpful lesson for you both as you embark on a lifetime of marriage. Learning how to compromise will not only help tame fights during the engagement period, but well beyond it. "If you're willing to hear your partner's side and consider his or her feelings, you will minimize fights while you are engaged," says Amanda Ruiz, a licensed professional counselor and founder of The Counseling Collective. "These conflict resolution skills will serve you well throughout your marriage, too!"
Don't Stop Dating
Just because you two are planning a wedding—and a lifetime together—doesn't mean you should forget about romance. According to our experts, one of the most important things that couples can do during their engagement is to remember to date and have fun together, according to Dr. Sommerfeldt. "This may seem completely obvious, but it's very common that when a couple is newly engaged, they have more stress and demands from friends, family, and wedding planning that they can actually put their relationship on the back burner without even realizing it," she says. "Dating is an important factor in maintaining connection and intimacy with your partner because it allows you the alone time needed to really be present, mindful and in the moment."
Maintain a "Team" Approach
Now that you two are creating your own family, it's especially important that you start acting like a team. "When the fight is a battle to win or to destroy, the team loses," says Morris. She suggests focusing on using the term "we" in the heat of arguments and finding ways for the understanding and resolution to serve the deepening bond of the couple and that best serves the "team."
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