Coping with Wedding Planning Stress in a Time of COVID-19
Planning a wedding is not an easy task. In these challenging and uncertain times, it can become quite a daunting task indeed.
But people still want to celebrate important life moments and desire to be surrounded by their loved ones to share their joy.
What are the best ways to deal with the associated anxieties and stresses?
We decided to ask a professional and got in touch with Omar Ruiz, a Massachusetts licensed Marriage & Family therapist. Omar runs a small private practice out of Wellesley, MA, called TalkThinkThrive.
1. What have you found to be the biggest issues facing couples today, within the context of COVID-19?
Many couples have struggled throughout this COVID-19 lockdown. Whenever people are quarantined, they have nowhere to go and as such any issues that come up with have to be faced head-on. Here are the top biggest issues couples are facing today:
a) Lack of Boundaries - Being in close quarters with your partner does not allow you to have the necessary space to appreciate them when you both are around each other.
b) Concerns around finances - For those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19, couples are now facing a "survivor" mode when it comes to paying bills and taking care of everyday necessities. This leads to arguments around potential unnecessary spending.
c) Lots of Small Fights - With so much uncertainty, couples are having more arguments, disagreements, and lack of patience with one another over communication.
d) Not feeling connected with others - Even though there is value in couples spending as much time with one another, but when there is no balance for other outside connection (i.e. family, friends, coworkers, etc), people begin to lose a sense of themselves and the relationships that are important to them.
2. What is your advice for couples who have had to share the same space for months due to quarantine?
Communication is the key to surviving any relationship. Whether it's about who is going grocery shopping or discussing the stressors of this pandemic, couples need to focus on strengthening their communication skills. Learn when to take appropriate space from each other, understand the things that annoy your partner, and take the time to listen from a place of comprehension instead of responding.
3. Are there any exercises you recommend to help new couples navigate these uncertain and challenging times?
a) Relaxation - Engage in activities that relax your mind and muscles, such as taking a hot bath/shower together or talk a walk outside.
b) Physical Activity - Exercise and sex are great physical activities that couples can enjoy together. Not only are you creating healthier lifestyles, but you are also creating sexual intimacy.
c) Learn & Play together - Instead of focusing on your phone/laptop/tablet, go on Amazon & purchase some old school board games. Play Uno, Dominos, Cards, etc. These will allow you both to connect to your competitive side. Plus, if you ever wanted to learn how to cook some of your favorite social media-inspired dishes, take the time to create these dishes together.
4. In a time when we can’t leave the house, what can couples do to keep their communication productive?
Learn all the different styles to communicate without having to resort to only verbal communication. Create drawings together, create a new language by using physical gestures (like creating a handshake or facial expression), share songs lyrics to one another that may best express how you feel, spend time cuddling/spooning/holding hands while you sit on your bed/couch. When it comes to verbal communication, spend time exploring the types of communication style that works best for your partner. For instance, do they shut down, are they aggressive, do they rely more on body language, what words or phrases trigger them. Without having an open dialogue of what works and what doesn't, couples will not learn how to navigate simple and complex situations.
5. What do you think we should prioritize when deciding whether to cancel or postpone our wedding? How can we explain to guests who we invited that they are no longer on the shortened list?
Many people by now would have an understanding of why such an important life event would have to be canceled. However, if you have friends or family members that do not agree with the need to postpone your wedding, due to their own ideas around this pandemic, the simple response to give them is that due to the safety of all guests that it is best to postpone until there are more certainty and control around this pandemic. Just remember, it is your wedding and that you have to make the best decision for yourself and your guest (especially if you have guests who may be at a higher risk of contracting the virus).
6. What one piece of advice would you give a couple who has to cancel their wedding due to coronavirus?
Remember that everyone is being impacted by this pandemic and you are not the only couple who has to cancel or postpone your wedding. It may be helpful for you to go onto Facebook and search Bridal groups to ask and read about how other folks are coping with this situation. You never know what ideas or support may come out of it.