By Liz Higgins, LMFTA
Life experiences, family dynamics, and the influence of society generate many ideas of what a marriage should look like, especially when it comes to wedding planning and handling conflict. What people often forget is that the wedding itself is a symbol of something much greater: a marriage.
Young couples are often thrown off when conflict arises during the wedding-planning process. Isn’t this supposed to be the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship? It certainly can be. But sometimes, people choose to completely deny and avoid any premarital conflict in order to “keep the peace” and convince themselves that they have found the “perfect” partner.
The reality is that tension and stress (hello, wedding planning) will often become the fertile ground for conflict and your differences to emerge. It’s essential to have a grasp on what some of the damaging myths are that our world continues to hold about conflict, and what that means for your relationship.
Here are five of the most common myths about conflict in premarital relationships.
Myth 1: If you’re fighting before you’re married, it won’t last.
It’s normal to feel a little insecure about your relationship after a fight, especially in the beginning of a relationship. Emotions are flooding your body and you’re uncertain about where things stand. A common myth I see in my premarital practice is that fighting means you “aren’t compatible” and your marriage is doomed to divorce before it’s even begun. Allowing conflict to lead you to question your relationship is, often, jumping to irrational conclusions.
According to Dr. Ellyn Bader of The Couples Institute, relationships move through many developmental phases over time. It is not uncommon to experience conflict and a discrepancy in thoughts, feelings, and needs as you establish yourselves as a couple and as individuals within your relationship.
Dr. Gottman says that conflict is an opportunity to learn how to love each other better over time, to understand your partner more deeply, and to encourage them to continue growing as an individual with their own feelings and opinions.
Myth 2: What you’re fighting about is what you’re fighting about.
That may not make sense at first read, but hear me out. There’s a point here. The number one thing couples fight about, according to Dr. Gottman, is nothing. Arguments between premarital couples about who to invite to the wedding, how much to spend, one partner not helping enough with the wedding planning, or where to go on the honeymoon are usually about something deeper.
Couples often fight to feel understood, validated, and supported by their partner. They may fight for control if one or both partners are feeling overwhelmed or insecure. If you notice that you and your partner seem to have difficulty addressing certain topics without it turning into a fight, explore your unspoken dreams, needs, and emotions. You may realize that the surface problem has a much deeper meaning than you think.
Myth 3: You should resolve every argument and never go to bed angry.