Part of the conversation really got me thinking not just about conflicts in weddings, but really about conflicts in life. I think we can see “weddings” as a metonymy of “life”. That is to say, thinking about conflicts in life can be reduced to thinking about conflicts in the wedding preparation process.
So today, I want to gather some of my thoughts from yesterday’s inspiring conversation and write about the one thing that has been on my mind recently. That is:
“Weddings are supposed to be happy events.”
Related to that is the notion that–
“The memory of your wedding is supposed to be a happy one.”
Then why do we hear of so many unhappy memories in the wedding preparation process? Nightmares include:
- Mothers fighting with each other because they wanted the same dress;
- Parents being unhappy because they felt that their voices weren’t heard;
- Parents being unhappy because they felt that their beloved daughter/son is “marrying downwards”;
- Brides being angry because wedding vendors didn’t deliver perfection, or didn’t fulfil their highest expectations. This is made worse by the knowledge of opportunity cost, that is, the time, energy, money that could be spent on alternative vendors that are perceived to be able to deliver better;
- Friends who publicly insult brides in the name of freedom of expression, etc.
It’s true isn’t it, that the root of conflict IS the notion of “Us versus Them”, and thereafter compounded by the notion of mistrust. Which logical mother would start a huge fight with the other mother due to a dress?! Both mothers just want the kid + the kid’s eternal love to be happy. But as human beings, there are insecurities to deal with.
Logically, conflict could have been avoided in spite of “Us versus Them”, if “Us” and “Them” can be initially convinced that–
“Everyone just wants to be happy and respected.”
Now, the above statement sounds like common sense, but it’s very difficult sometimes to achieve because of prior unresolved conflicts, or simply conflict of interest. So if such conflicts cannot be resolved, then they can only be managed, or avoided. And sometimes when you meet this type of conflict, it’s just plain bad luck.
For example, if a dad were to think that his daughter is the best bride-to-be in the world, then no son-in-law will meet his high standards.
Or for example, if prior to the wedding preparation process, the bride is the competitive sort of lady who wants to achieve the “best” wedding amongst her relatives, family members and friends, then basically even “excellent” vendors will fall short of the standard of perfection.
Honestly, apart from wedding vendors who are outright scammers, I believe with all my heart too, that everyone in this industry wants to be part of the creation of a beautiful, happy wedding. Unfortunately however, perfection is rarely possible and people make mistakes ALL THE TIME!
And sometimes, brides/grooms don’t even want perfection, and rather they are just in denial/ don’t know what they want. So they use the unattainable benchmark of “perfection” to hide the real problems that they dare not/do not know how to face.
So how would you deal with conflicts in the wedding preparation process?
- Always reassure your parents and your partner’s parents that they are being respected, and you are not being bullied. I think this sort of reassurance have to happen on an ongoing basis. Now reassurance does not cancel or prevent conflicts, but they do remind everybody of this “everyone just wants to be happy and respected” notion.
I think it’s true that all wedding preparations tend to start with the notion of “us” versus “them”. Logically speaking, wedding affairs are indeed one family’s interest against another family’s interest, and (especially Asian) parents will be worried sick about their kid’s well-being after the marriage. So negotiation is key, and mistrust and conflicts are bound to happen.
- Always express appreciation to wedding vendors, but you must choose your wedding vendors with care, lah. Don’t settle for any Tom, Dick and Harry vendors just based on price!! Ask around/do online checks about their reputation, always test the sincerity of the person in the boutique. After deciding on a reasonable vendor, then be sure to be quick to express gratitude and forgive, rather than blame. I think humans are humans and we all make mistakes. The intention is never to cheat.
- Sometimes due to prior unresolved conflicts, current conflicts can never be resolved. At most, you can only minimise damage. At this point, somehow an image of a drowning person comes to my mind. You want to save the person–“STOP STRUGGLING. LET GO AND TRUST ME, TRUST ME”, you SHOUT, but that person refuses to listen, and pulls you down. So you just have to choose to let go then and pray that the other person can be somehow saved.
- Another way to resolve conflicts is also TIMING. Human beings are so easily influenced by emotions. I find that whenever emotions take over, people start doing irrational, stupid things. I’m speaking from experience because I sometimes tend to be like that. And you, by the way, sometimes tend to be like that too. 😛 So when you sense that both families are fighting, let them have a cool off period before suggesting a compromise.
- Last but not least, try to understand the other party’s perspective with kindness. I mean, sometimes you feel very angry because you feel that the other party is not of good intention. Or if you feel that the other party is an unreasonable jerk/bitch. But still try to understand. Which father-in-law/mother-in-law would want to deliberately be a jerk/bitch? They are probably just plain worried about their daugher’s/son’s interest/future.
- Listen to hearts–not words–in quarrels. Mothers who fight over dresses are not fighting over dresses. Brides who fight with wedding vendors over imperfections/failed promises are not actually fighting over imperfections/failed promises (especially if those stuffs are not in the contract). They are fighting instead over an insecurity. Listen to the heart and pacify the heart, instead of (only) logically arguing over what is spoken.
- And perhaps last but not least, think about missing information. What do you not know about the person/situation? Sometimes thinking about what you do not know is wayyyyyyy more important than thinking about what you know. It’s like Harry Potter and Snape–the knowledge of Snape’s unchanging love for Lily Potter in the end turned so many readers’ extreme hatred towards Snape into extreme fangirlism.
Actually, all these methods are easier said/written than done. I can logically stand at a distance right now to analyse the scenario because I am but a third neutral party. If you are an involved party in the wedding preparation process, it will be more difficult because the conflict is closely related to personal stakes and heightened emotions.
Sometimes it might even get to the stage where you start to think “this person is out to screw me up, isn’t it?”
So perhaps, let’s not get to that stage. Because honestly, most people have better things to do in life. No single person is perfect. Let’s try our best to cool down to seek to understand first, before blaming.
*Sigh* But sometimes people do this too late, or simply don’t want to talk/communicate. If this is the case, then I guess it’s really just too bad then–in such cases the aim would then be to minimise damage.
So do try your best to do things with good intentions, reassure your loved ones a lot, and always work towards living happily ever after. Perhaps we shouldn’t always take happiness for granted. 🙂