There may be trouble ahead
The upcoming coronation is giving us all clear insight into the drama and seemingly impossible juggling act of pulling together any crowd or audience, while trying to manage the inevitable fall out.
Like so many celebrations that involve family, friends and significant outsiders, there’s already feverish anticipation on the most basic level over issues that can affect any couple organising a ceremony
- Will warring siblings make-up or will tensions be palpable
- What will be the outcome of seemingly critical remarks made by a son that are levelled at his mother-in-law.
- Might a spouse, who feels slighted by the partner’s family, make a polite excuse to avoid the whole party by refusing to engage?
- What about the awkward brother or uncle and the wayward exes who are still parents of major players.
- Do they invite children who aren’t playing any role in the ceremonies – and whose children get the starring roles anyway?
- Who sits where to avoid feelings of disgruntled guests taking permanent umbrage
The lead up to this coronation ceremony gives us plenty of insights that, from Westminster Abbey to the local registry office, similar issues are likely to be acted out.
Family members and close friends all have sensitivities and a coronation, not unlike a wedding, is a prime location for heightened feelings to emerge.
Here should be a precious moment when two people publicly declare love and commitment. A golden day of unity and support ….
Except, bubbling under the lovely new hats and ironed shirts is often a patchwork of unresolved tensions, rivalries and grudges that are kept in check during everyday life.
Many issues are just accidents waiting to happen. With careful forethought and planning, a lot of strife can be swerved.
The scope for argument is wide in the run up to the big day so let’s agree that there’s no way to avoid all the possible rivalries and tensions but with some care, much of the issues can be minimised if not erased completely
The first conversation should be between the two main players. Understanding that the lead up will not be all excitement and anticipation is key.
Too much hope will mean that disappointments and difficulties can assume major proportions.
Discuss calmly at the outset that there will be differences of opinions.
Allow each other space to really get across opinions that don’t fit comfortably with the other and sometimes be prepared to compromise without holding onto any grievances.
Never let tricky ‘others’ come between you. Loyalties can be split and that’s normal, but face them together. Never let contentious issues, in which the two of you aren’t united, be discussed with others who may reinforce disparate opinions.
Here’s a big one. Who is paying and does that give them power. Set a budget at the start and stick to it.
The funding of a wedding can make a couple feel indebted to the wishes of others. Discuss boundaries right from the start as to what acceptance of payment may mean with regard to the ideas or opinions of the giver.
And be clear as to your thoughts on their influence and involvement. These things are much better understood and resolved if there is no scope for misunderstandings from the outset.
I had a client whose very wealthy family funded a huge wedding stretching over several days.
The couple dutifully tolerated all their ideas being subsumed by extremely traditional values that they didn’t share.
The last straw was when they found out that the invitation typeface they had chosen was secretly changed to a very old fashioned script and they were presented with a result that outlined to them their complete powerlessness in their own opinions and tastes for the wedding.
At this point, they hurriedly packed and eloped to Europe where they had a beautiful and casual marriage party in a medieval church with just their chosen closest friends.
The mother and mother-in-law were left with the clear message that they had refused to hear for months. And a big pile of exquisitely printed invitations in a curly script that will never be sent.
Which brings us neatly to ….
A wedding is such a transition and can be the start of a big change in family dynamics
Not every parent will welcome the choice that their offspring has made.
‘For better or for worse’ will extend to them, too.
Mothers often tread a delicate path between being seen as pushy or interfering on one hand. Or not supportive enough on the other.
Mothers have opinions and may have to hold back rather than appear to be taking sides or championing their family member.
What can appear as control to others is often just a cover for anxiety. Mothers get nervous too.
There will be the added complication that over time, many parents will have separated or divorced and want new partners to be their plus one.
As we can see with the royals, this can be the source of long held antagonism and hurt.
Sometimes it’s just best to allow each set of parents their own place in a seating plan to allow them to feel significant surrounded by trusted and impartial friends or family members.
But in the end it’s up to each person to be grown up enough to remember whose wellbeing is most important on this special day
It’s a wedding, how exciting. Everyone will have a great idea, an opinion, or a need to have their thoughts listened to.
Do remember that unsolicited advice can come across as criticism
Allow others to play with their ideas and plans, but it’s your day and you can’t please all if the people all of the time as many a wise person has written.
If the royal family can’t manage with all the money and advisors on hand, then it’s clear that in all big gatherings some people will be disappointed with whatever decisions become final.
Power battles are always present and need careful handling.
Small gestures to please and involve those closest are a wise and thoughtful way to try and reach out with love and compassion.
Avoiding pre-wedding couple conflict
It’s easy for organising to become so important that couples can neglect everyday fun. Remember to take time off too, where The Subject can get parked in favour of ordinary life.
A day or two to connect without the pressure of planning will help to unify you.
It’s not unknown for one half of a couple to be more invested in the planning and the other can then feel neglected or sidelined.
Alternatively one half might be more concerned with reigning in finances that they fear will spiral. And this can leave them feeling frustrated and powerless.
Being aware of these possibilities and heed the warning signs before internalised hurt or anger starts to leak out.
Keep talking and importantly keep listening
Remember it’s only a day, and the real work starts after the wedding, but also the real reward for the unified lifetime ahead
Pre marital counselling
This is becoming a lot more popular and is a quiet and thoughtful way to mull over the important topics that can get lost in the flurry of arrangements and plans for the Big Day
Family time, sex, money, work, online time, and hopes for children…. couples may think these are all fully discussed, but in working with clients before a marriage ceremony, it is not unusual to find that opening up these topics can reveal surprises.
A few therapy sessions may align views and offer negotiation for opinions that are not so aligned.
Possibly, Yvonne Fair (below) could never have avoided her experience of a badly managed wedding. Let’s hope she found happiness with a more worthy partner.