Good news: Couples who fight together, stay together, and even the research is saying it’s true. It actually makes sense in theory, because if you’re fighting often, you’re gaining more of an understanding of each other. And the time in your relationship you’re likely to fight the most? During your engagement, while you’re planning your wedding. Don’t fret — it’s all part of getting ready to take the plunge into marriage. Here are 10 fights you’re likely to have during your engagement — and how to come out stronger before you say “I do.”
1. The big day
There’s no shortage of stress when it comes to planning a wedding — for the bride, the groom, their families, and anyone else involved. While it’s an exciting time, the seemingly endless to-do list adds a lot of pressure to an event that already comes with high expectations.
To limit the confrontations and disagreements that may arise, it’s wise to make a promise to each other that you will keep the focus on the two of you.
2. The groom’s (or bride’s) involvement
When there’s so much to do before the big day, it’s a smart idea to play to each other’s strengths. For example, the bride might be very creative, so let her handle all of the invitations. But there may come a time or two (or three!) when one of you gets fed up with doing what you feel is most of the heavy lifting. “When you’re engaged and planning the wedding, it often becomes the case where one person is doing all the planning, while the other person does a little here and there,” Martinez said. “While you may want your fiancé to have the day he or she always dreamed of, this is both of your day and you will be closer for planning this together and ensuring that it meets both of your ideals.”
3. Life goals
No matter how many months or years you’ve been together, the engagement period is often the time when you learn the most about your soon-to-be spouse. For example, you may find out you and your fiancé have different views in terms of when to have children — or how many children to have. “There are many times that, no matter how well we think we know our fiancé, issues that you’ve never discussed come to light,” Martinez said. “There may be assumptions you have made about your fiancé’s views on certain matters that only rear their head now that you’re about to make a lifetime commitment.” Be sure you talk these issues out and, if needed, seek out the help of a therapist to hammer out some compromises between the two of you.
Financial decisions always get the brunt of the arguments, mainly because money’s just a touchy subject and often determines a great deal about how the event will go down. “There are, of course, many costs associated with planning a wedding, but also with day to day living expenses, whether you are living together or not,” Martinez said. “Getting on the same page with your views about money, how it should be spent and saved, and who will take care of what, is a huge factor to get out of the way now to prevent issues later.”
5. The in-laws
Assuming they’re playing a role in the wedding-planning process, one or both sides of the family are bound to get too involved. Your job as a couple is to maintain a united front so as not to offend one side of the family or each other. “One of the critical mistakes many couples make is not discussing how they will manage time with each set of parents,” says Deb Castaldo, Ph.D., couples and marriage therapist and author of Relationship Reboot. “This includes during the wedding process in addition to setting boundaries around expectations for how much time the in-laws will spend in their home now and later, and how they will handle their involvement with grandchildren in the future.”
Whether or not you follow the same religion, this is a sensitive topic for families. A traditional wedding ceremony holds a great deal of religious value and most parents want to see their children follow in the path the family has set for them. It’s a good idea to sit down with your fiancé and discuss your beliefs and how you see them playing a role in your special day. If you can come to an agreement with how religiously involved your ceremony and reception will be, it will be an easier road to the altar for you both.
7. Theme and décor
It’s normal if you and your S.O. share different tastes in style and decoration. But remember, your wedding day is for you both as a couple, as well as individuals. It’s important that you both agree on the bigger décor decisions, like your venue and the colors worn by the wedding party. However, when it comes to how your guests’ dinner napkins should be folded, you can let one of you take the lead.
As the saying goes, you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Your fiancé might not love all your girlfriends, or even your maid of honor, and you might even detest one of his groomsmen, or even his best man. The key is to tolerate each other’s friends and remember that, even though you might not love each and every one of them, these people hold a great deal of importance to your fiancé, so play nice!
9. Each other’s past
Presumably, you both have exes whom may or may not still play a role in your lives. Maybe it’s the pretty neighbor he dated in middle school whose parents are best friends with his parents, or the high school boyfriend who became your college bestie. It’s a touchy subject to consider inviting anyone who’s ever been with your fiancé (in any capacity) to your wedding, but this, too, is not worth fighting over. Instead, try to get to know his ex. If he gives you the opportunity to, try to make your best nonjudgmental attempt at liking her.
“Respect is the foundation of every good relationship, and couples may argue over feeling mistreated and disrespected if they fail to define what respect means to each of them,” Dr. Castaldo says. “For some, it’s discussing difficult issues right away, being given time and space to work through feelings, or working on their voice tone and making eye contact.” Whatever obstacles or frustrations come your way during the wedding-planning process, remember to show your future husband or wife all the respect he or she deserves. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
[Editor’s note: This story was originally published May 2017]