During your wedding ceremony, you vow to be a faithful and loving partner through sickness and health, in good times and bad, and in joy as in sorrow. To love each other unconditionally.
To complement each other...not complete each other.
There’s no better feeling than finding love, and there’s so much beauty in the reciprocity of a relationship. But I think it’s common to get so wrapped up in another person, that we can lose sight of our own selves. It’s important to stay connected to our own values and what makes us feel good. Not to rely on others to fill that space completely. Relationships take work and sacrifice, but if we don’t check in with ourselves regularly, we can become angry, hurt, or resentful. The idea is to “merge” into a couple without sacrificing our own independence.
Of course, maintaining independence doesn’t mean continuously getting your way. It’s completely possible to share interests and passions with your partner, while still differing in some ways and leading your own lives...it always comes back to balance.
This can be particularly challenging during wedding planning. Speaking from my own experience, I worked with a very involved groom-to-be. He produces events for a living, so it was understandably very difficult at times for him to step back and relax. We are both passionate and creative people, so we definitely had some disagreements when it came to guest list, table linens, desserts, etc. (I think the invitations were randomly the fastest thing we agreed on).
Over time, we learned that the most important thing was healthy communication. To speak our own desires so that our personal interests were conveyed, but to be kind to each other in the process. I didn’t want to demand something and have my soon-to-be husband resent me for it...and vice versa.
In my coaching program, I learned definitions for what my husband and I dealt with during our planning process -- “passive listening” vs. “active listening”. My husband and I learned through trial and error that giving external indications (in other words, acknowledgement) is incredibly important to your partner. If your partner feels like he/she is being listened to, he/she is more likely to listen back. I know it sounds cliché, but you really get back what you put out there. Try this tonight. Try it with your partner, and try it with your mom, your mother-in-law or your coworker or boss.
Wedding planning can become a trial run for effective communication in marriage. If you get it right during this stressful time, you’ll set the stage for how you communicate during the good times and bad to come.
I have found that effective communication and listening comes more easily to people who practice self care. Think about it – when you get a good night’s sleep, for example, you feel fantastic and ready to take on any challenge. Stay up too late browsing photos of place settings on Pinterest and you’re more likely to have a short fuse when your fiancé leaves his dishes in the sink. Again. You want to feel like you’re working as a team, not against each other. So how do we keep our cool during this crazy time? Self-love is key.
Here are 8 tips to treat yourself right while counting down to your wedding:
1. Host a Girls Night Out (or In)
Go hit the town with a group of your close friends and just completely let loose. This can be anything from a night out dancing to cooking dinner and watching a movie. Not only does this get your mind off wedding planning, but it reminds you that you also have a great support system of friends to lean on...no matter what.
2. Set personal wellness goals
Pick and choose a few different events as motivation markers for fitness and nutrition goals. For example, give up drinking until your bachelorette party, or set an intention to work out every day until your shower (no time to exercise? Take a brisk walk during lunch. Just don’t skip the actual eating lunch part.)
3. Maintain things from Singlehood that are Important to you
This could be having your own hobby that you keep separate for you (like a weekly spin class you never miss) or keeping your own bank account. You’re joining lives with your partner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold onto your independence.
4. Watch Bravo with 16 Handles in bed
Give in to those guilty pleasures every now and then. This one reminds me of the “Sex and the City” episode when all the girls resort to their “Secret Single Behavior”. Whether it’s eating saltines with jelly while reading magazines standing up in the kitchen like Carrie or using Vaseline gloves at night like Miranda, own your beloved SSB and don’t forget to take a trip down memory lane whenever you need it.
5. Take a family trip sans fiancé
Just because you are about to blend families (which is a beautiful thing) that doesn’t mean that you can’t visit your own family without your fiancé. And partaking in family traditions (a couple of mine are seeing the first daily showing of movies in the back row with my dad or going on walks with my mom and our dogs). There’s nothing wrong with spending a weekend apart. In fact, the separation can actually be very healthy. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.
6. Treat yourself
Take a few hours to yourself and get a fresh manicure or pedicure (make it that special one they always promote but you never buy), get a facial, take a bubble bath, or take a restorative yoga class. It could also be really nice to involve a group of friends and make an event out of it (see #1)
Sign up for New York Cares or another local nonprofit organization that offers volunteer opportunities in your area. There’s no greater feeling than giving back. Not only are you helping others in need, studies show that charitable work leads to increased happiness and sense of purpose.
8. Join a similar-interest club
Whether it’s ZogSports, a book club, or a professional networking group, get out there
and try new things and meet new people. This checks a couple of boxes – promoting your independence and self confidence while growing your social or career network. It can also have the added benefit of pushing you to do things like update that resumé you’ve been meaning to get to, or read more books.
Here are 5 major reasons why independence should be the ultimate goal:
1. Increases confidence and your sense of empowerment
Having control over decisions boosts confidence, and you’re less reliant on others to move forward. You’re excited to take risks because you have faith that all will work out.
2. Helps you make decisions in accordance to your values
You’ll start to trust your gut instincts and not wait for other people’s approval before moving forward. At first, this might feel uncomfortable, but the new repeated actions will eventually turn into ingrained habits.
3. Reduces stress and promotes happiness
You start to understand that people react to situations in different ways, and you don’t feel personally offended or anxious if someone is not meeting your “emotional needs”.
4. Creates a sense of accomplishment and results in increased efficiency
Once you stop feeling the need to get approval from others, you increase productivity
and trust your instincts to move forward (without having to wait for others to chime in, which could inevitably confuse you more if they have differing opinions from one another). You’re able to quickly move down your to-do list, thus being more efficient.
5. Strengthens relationships with others
Coming back to the relationship at the heart of this, your partner will start to notice your newfound strengthened independence. Your positive energy may motivate him to go after more aspirational goals as well. You’ll feel more productive, happier, and ready to actively listen with understanding and without judgement. Also, without you even trying or focusing on it, your partner will be more and more attracted to you because let’s face it: that independence is sexy.
The more you take care of yourself and build on your independence, the more you will start to complement each other...through sickness and health, in good times and bad, and in joy as in sorrow.
Do you think that more independence strengthens a relationship? What steps are you taking to maintain your independence as you head towards marriage? What do you want to work on? Would love to hear your thoughts.
And shoot me a note to join my mailing list (includes a FREE wellness guide) and find out how I can help you achieve your goals.