the Big Questions
A Blueprint for Communicating Your Way to Happily
In the months leading up to my wedding,
seemed like everyone from relatives to complete strangers wanted to
impart words of wisdom upon me. Everyone had an opinion on how to plan
a wedding and how to live happily ever after. At times, it was hard to
sort through it all and figure out what pieces of advice my fiancé and
I needed to listen to most.
Well-wishers left me wondering
what goes into the “perfect” relationship. I quickly realized that
there is no such thing. The perfect relationship is the one that works
best for you. In the end, it really doesn’t matter who takes out the
trash, who cooks more or who walks the dog. What does matter is how you
communicate about those menial tasks – and the more serious matters.
engaged really showed me just how important it is to keep the lines of
communication flowing. Planning a wedding is stressful. You’ve got the
big things to worry about, like the venue, the guest list, the menu,
etc. And then there are a million details to organize – all while
managing the expectations of everyone involved.
encouraged us to communicate early, communicate often, and communicate
about almost everything. They said they couldn’t believe how following
that simple guideline kept their relationships spicy and made for many
happily married years. This motto helped them avoid some of marriage’s
major stumbling blocks.
Couples often associate
communication with opening up a dialogue around the BIG questions. Do
you want kids? If so, how many? Do you want to live here or move? Do
you want to incorporate religion into our lives? What are your career
goals? How should we budget? I’m exhausted just reviewing that list,
and it doesn’t cover half of the questions people suggested we discuss.
I’m proud to say that even prior to our yearlong engagement, my
fiancé and I had covered most of these topics. Aligning our answers to
those questions brought us close quickly. But we learned that much more
goes into communication than simply talking through the BIG questions.
we prepared for our nuptials, my fiancé decided to run for a seat on
our local Village Board. Between wedding planning, fundraising for the
campaign, walking door to door to drum up support, and keeping
full-time jobs, we were busier than ever.
Most days we
worked through dinner and rarely had a moment to ourselves. It was
during these very trying months that I realized the true power of
communication. I’m not talking about the power of the BIG questions.
No, I’m talking about the power of the small exchanges.
in love with my fiancé over banter about the latest news story and the
hottest trend blowing up on social media. We didn’t fall in love by
having heavy, serious talks. It happened while shooting the breeze and
engaging in little conversations about music, and sports, and pop
culture. It’s these discussions that will make you fall in love with
each other over and over again for the rest of your lives.
important to take a break from going over wedding details and worrying
about the issues the universe has thrown at you this week. Set aside
some true “us” time. Big life events (i.e. wedding planning) make life
hectic. Take a moment to talk about other things and enjoy the little
chats. Consistently having that special “us” time keeps the spark
alive. Who doesn’t want that?
Remember, your significant other
is your sounding board and support system. It’s part of the marriage
code to communicate early, often, and about almost everything. That’s
what your partner is there for! I’m glad I learned that through the
good, bad, and ugly moments of planning our big day.
One of the
most important lessons I learned was that it’s okay to voice
frustrations. You can’t be smiley and upbeat all the time, even when it
comes to planning one of the happiest days of your life.
didn’t want to seem like a complainer or like I was overly dramatic
when I became overwhelmed with work and the wedding. Instead of blowing
off steam and sharing my frustrations with my fiancé, I kept them
bottled up. While this prevented me from seeming negative, it didn’t
make anything better. Frankly, it just made me more frustrated.
in keeping my feelings to myself, I was not only creating more stress,
I was shutting my fiancé out. Even if he wanted to support me, he
couldn’t. I wasn’t giving him the chance. I had to make a conscious
decision to open up and share my worries. The result was a deep
conversation that strengthened our relationship.
learned that it’s important to ask for what you need. While it would be
nice, our partners can’t read our minds. It’s up to you to tell them
what you need - whether that’s emotional support, discussing your
career, or simply a date night - communicating your wants and desires
is essential. Asserting yourself in this way can be difficult for
people – I know it was for me. But voicing my needs deepened our bond
and made asking the BIG questions much easier.
communication isn’t going to come without argument, and sometimes a
healthy disagreement actually moves a relationship forward. Expressing
your difference of opinion in a healthy way teaches you more about each
other. More importantly, expressing your opinion and having it met with
respect makes you feel heard. You’re not always going to agree, but
knowing that you both have an equal voice makes an argument easier to
I treasure the fact that not
a day goes by that my fiancé and I don’t offer each other compliments
or express gratitude. These little nuggets of appreciation really do
bring us closer. It’s easy to assume that our partner knows how much we
value him or her, but letting the words actually pass our lips is
Finally, if you haven’t asked the BIG questions,
discuss them now. Seriously, do it now! The talks about family,
children, finances, and careers aren’t going away after the wedding.
It’s important to say where you stand on things up front. If you have
talked about them, revisit these topics from time to time. Career
goals, especially, seem to change at a rapid rate these days, and it’s
vital to keep your partner in the loop.
In truth, the BIG
questions aren’t really that big if you continuously keep the door open
to each other. The discussions flowed naturally for us when we took the
time to voice concerns, express our separate views, and show our
gratitude each day. Our smaller moments of communication were open and
honest, leading us to feel safe as we talked about the big stuff. Now
we communicate early, often, and about almost everything. And I have to
say, it’s worked out pretty well for us.