Written By Paoula Saoud, Clinical Psychologist. The Valens Clinic
The wedding is a significant milestone in the couples’ lives. It symbolizes the union between two people who chose to spend their lives together. Weddings incorporate the love and affection between both partners, it expresses their commitment to each other and their desire to build a family, as in most cultures, weddings are a symbol of fertility and prosperity.
It is important to note that the definition of a wedding can vary across cultures, religions, and personal beliefs. Therefore, the customs and traditions may differ, but the underlying themes of love, commitment and unity are generally universal.
While weddings are a joyful celebration of love and happiness, they are also considered a major stressor as they bring emotional, social and financial challenges impacting the couple before, during and after the big day.
Identifying and understanding these challenges can help couples build more insight into their relationship dynamics and strengthen their bond to face and overcome these obstacles together.
Pre-Wedding stress and expectations:
Planning the “big day” can be an emotional rollercoaster for couples characterized by an exciting feeling, positive anticipation, nervousness, indecisiveness, and uncertainty. These emotional fluctuations are influenced by several factors including personal expectations, financial considerations, social expectations, and family dynamics. This can lead to tension between both partners and strain their relationship.
Expectations play a crucial role in the psychological wellbeing of the couple during this phase. As individuals might have different ideas of their “perfect big day”, these differences in expectations can create pressure and heighten anxiety as both individuals strive to meet their idealized image. These discrepancies can lead to conflicts, disappointment and negative emotions affecting the couple.
Recognizing and effectively managing these preparations with open communication, redirecting the focus on their own shared goals and priorities, compromise, shared decision-making, and respect can reduce the stress and lead to a better and healthier emotional environment.
Family dynamics and interpersonal relationships:
A wedding is a combination of several narratives. It belongs to the people who are in it, but it also belongs to the people who are supporting it and living around it. Weddings can often bring together diverse family and social backgrounds. This diversity can impact the whole experience as unresolved conflicts, lack of boundaries and unhealthy relationship dynamics can resurface and affect the couple’s emotional experience.
Therefore, encouraging communication, setting boundaries and prioritizing the couples’ needs can help navigate these challenges.
Role transition and adjustment:
Weddings mark a significant transition in an individual’s life: shifting their identify from being single to being part of a couple. This role transition can evoke a range of emotions including excitement, fear, and a sense of loss. Individuals may experience emotional changes as they navigate this new chapter, adapting to new roles and expectations within the context of their relationship.
It is important to open up to their significant other about these challenges and communicate individual needs. This adjustment phase may involve negotiating roles and routines. It is key to be mindful of the unique experience that their significant other is passing through and express mutual support. Couples need to accept and embrace this process and incorporate it into their personal growth.
Following the busy schedules, the excitement and the emotional intensity of the wedding day, some individuals may experience “the blues”. This emotional state is temporary and is often characterised by a feeling of emptiness, being let-down, not connected to oneself or “melancholic’’ as referred to it by the music genre. Recognizing these emotions with a partner or a support system can help with the transition. Other strategies can also help such as planning and sticking to a routine, healthy eating and sleeping habits, exercising, and engaging in social events.
In conclusion, while weddings are a single event, they play a crucial role in leading up to the marriage which is a continuous state of the union involving several roles, values, and matters.
Understanding and acknowledging the challenges throughout this process will promote a better psychological wellbeing and strengthen the couple’s bond. Focusing on honest communication, trust and intimacy can help partners manage stress more effectively and sail across this phase.
It is important to remember that therapy is not reserved for ‘’troubled relationships’’. Engaging in counselling or therapy during this time can be a proactive step to ensure a stronger foundation. Therapists can provide a safe space to give meaning to the personal and shared experience. They can help individuals and couples identify the difficulties that they are facing, help them develop more effective communication skills, enhance better adjustment during the transition, work on unhealthy family and relationship dynamics, establish healthy boundaries and develop effective coping strategies.