My family and I live 45 minutes north of Boston.
We were far enough away to be safe from the bombings and the manhunt, and we were close enough to be deeply affected.
Friends and family were on lockdown last Friday. Brides and grooms that I work with were, too.
My thoughts kept circling back to them:
How were they dealing, as a couple, under the extreme stress?
What was it like to be cooped up in their apartments under those scary circumstances?
Were they coming together? Helping each other? Comforting one another? Supporting each other? Were they connected, kind, sympathetic and gentle with each other?
Or did the stress of the situation expose cracks in their relationship? Were they impatient, critical, unkind? Did they flee to separate rooms to ride it out alone?
What were they learning about each other's character during the lockdown? Did they like what they saw and experienced... or not?
Lockdowns don't happen every day in a marriage. But you and your fiance will, in the course of your lifetime together, go through times of extreme stress.
The question is: Does extreme stress bring you together...or push you apart?
Food for thought.
The One Fund Boston has already raised $25,000,000 to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15. Click here to donate.
Sometimes, I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness talking about what a big deal getting married is -- that it's a challenging time of life that can bring up big issues for brides and grooms.
But then I read this in my favorite "Social Qs" column of the Style section of the New York Times by Philip Galanes yesterday, and I felt less alone:
QUESTION: My fiancé and I have been fighting over retirement planning. We are both 30, so this is not an imminent problem. He says there’s not much we can do right now because our combined incomes barely meet our frugal living expenses and college debt payments. I know he’s right, but I can’t stop worrying, which makes him feel like a loser. Please help me plot my next move.
This is exactly the type of problem brides come to me with: I can't shake this worry (our retirement), even though I know it's not really grounded in fact (because we're only 30). And it's affecting me and our relationship (he feels like "a loser.")
Do you have a nagging worry that you can't quite shake? What is it? Can you define it?
Writer Philip Galanes first answers the question in his witty and charming way:
ANSWER: In these difficult financial times, remember that even the most industrious ant (co-starring in Aesop’s fable with the sybaritic grasshopper) only saved enough to last through one winter, not a 30-year retirement in Palm Springs. Times have changed, so take it easy on yourself (and your fiancé). Happily, you are young. With hard work and economizing, your financial picture may improve over the next 30 years.
Then gets to the heart of the matter:
And while I hate to add to your cost of living, consider speaking with a shrink if your anxiety doesn’t abate. Your worry may, in some small way, be tied to the giant matrimonial leap you’re about to make.
He nails it. This bride has displaced her anxiety about getting married onto their ability to retire in 30 years. Amazing, isn't it, how complex and convoluted things can get?
This is exactly where I go with brides -- where I work with brides: getting to the core meaning of what this "giant matrimonial leap" means to you. Because for this bride, it's not about financial planning or their retirement savings. It's about something else entirely, but it got displaced onto the retirement savings worry.
If this bride were to Skype with me, we'd unpack the problem together. First, I'd ask her to help me deeply understand her anxiety about retirement. I want to know the nitty-gritty details that keep her tossing and turning at night. Then we'd talk about her own relationship to money and savings; her family history of money and savings; even her grandparents retirement and family stories about retirement. I wonder, in the back of my mind, if there are any family stories around marriage, money, old age and retirement that are haunting her now. We'd also explore her relationship with her fiance and the plans for their life together -- her feelings about his career and work ethic, her feelings about becoming financially interdependent with him for the rest of her life. And so on. And so on.
And so on. This is how I work with brides. We dig deep and we discover, together. And insight can give clarity, context, and emotional relief.
Every bride is unique. And every bride tends to displace her natural, normal, developmentally-appropriate anxiety about getting married onto something else (like retirement) in her own unique way. My job is to help brides unpack and understand her own experience, so that she can feel grounded and prepared for her marriage ahead.
Have a worry you're eager to get to the bottom of? Contact me for a free 15-minute video consultation now. I'm happy to start unpacking with you!
Early spring is always busy at Emotionally Engaged.
Big deposits are due for spring weddings, and that causes brides to fully face what they are doing with their lives.
So I'm busy. Wonderfully busy.
I have a great new group of brides from all over the globe working with me. This week, I've been finding myself asking many of them one very simple question:
"Do you want this marriage?"
The answers are all over the map.
"No, not this relationship as it stands right now," said one bride.
"Um, I really don't know," said another. "That's why I contacted you."
"Yes, absolutely, yes," say most brides I work with. And they quickly follow up by saying, "So why am I feeling so anxious and chaotic inside right now? I know I want to marry him, so why do I feel like this?"
There are many reasons why some brides feel overwhelmed and anxious. Here are some of the emotional challenges I worked with brides on this week: