Wednesday, December 9, 2009

best of 2009: challenge & growth

The life lessons learned from bride-land...

So while I promise that not all of my blog posts will be about getting married, this particular subject MUST be about the wedding because nothing in 2009 taught me more than wedding planning.

Here are the highlights:

 Conflict negotiation, aka, knowing when to pick your battles
 Emotional stress management
 Compromise
 How to be a better partner
 Event planning, this includes follow through, multi-tasking, and delegating
 Letting go of expectations and learning what my limits are
 Recognizing what is realistic and what is idealistic
 And my all time favourite, embracing your creative self

Many of these items are to be expected when you sit down and start planning a wedding. But some of them completely caught me by surprise. I mean, I never expected that wedding planning would teach me so much about my relationship with my partner. Sure, I knew there’d be compromises (and big ones given that we are an agnostic/Catholic, liberal/traditional couple [guess which one I am!]) but I was often surprised by some of the issues that actually required and didn’t require negotiation. I mean, I knew that he wouldn’t really be interested in an Indian fusion wedding (no curries or saris for me) but I was surprised by how far my husband was willing to go with the Asian fusion theme we built our wedding around. In fact, he was downright into the entire decorating/planning when negotiating what Asian styled elements we’d add to our invites, wardrobe, and photography.

I also learned about skills and areas of interest that my partner had that I was previously not really aware of. He designed our invites and our save the dates. He took care of most of our paper/graphic elements during the event and I was surprised by how readily he took these projects on. Planning the wedding, despite being full of stress made me aware that I couldn’t have picked a better partner. There was none of the stereotypical gender divide. I didn’t plan 90% of the wedding. It really was a 50-50 partnership, which is exactly what I want our marriage to be.

Wedding planning also taught me a lot about some of the patterns and behaviours I have that strengthen and weaken our relationship. I’m a talker. And I talk, a lot. It can be a good thing at times because I don’t stew on my emotions and I talk my way through things. But sometimes that leaves Paul with no space to get a word in. I am ever so slowly working on giving him more time to work out his ideas and express his opinions before I jump in with my rebuttals, counterpoints, additions and everything elses. (I know he’s learned his own relationship related stuff, but that’s for him to discuss, not me). Sure I could have told you some/most of this before planning the wedding, but actually going through the process sort of forced me to actually work at recognizing when these patterns were happening and actually changing the patterns and improving how we communicate.

All in all, the experience challenged my expectations, demanded that I learn to let go, and helped me grow as a person, both individually and as a couple. To date, it has been one of the most challenging, frustrating, stressful, emotionally charged, obsessive compulsive, creative, and rewarding lessons of my life. I can’t even begin to do the process justice. I feel like it made me a better person.

Would I do it again? No. Would I do things differently? Not really. Am I happy that I did it? Yes, absolutely.

For more of my thoughts on lessons learned from the battlefield, go here.

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