Mamma Mia!

Before Brian and I got engaged and started planning a wedding, we would roll our eyes at all the wedding drama we saw around us, whether it was on TV or going on with people we knew.

We’ll never have to worry about that, we silently thought to each other.  We gave each other a knowing glance and a smug-filled nudge.

I would just like to say that I get it now and I apologize.

I get it and I have only been engaged for 3 months, haven’t picked a venue, haven’t signed a contract, haven’t dropped a dime.

From my perspective, the issues Brian and I have come across with our families are all about expectations and assumptions.

Allow me to back up and explain.

For the most part, traditional, rigid gender-based values don’t jive with me or Brian.   This applies to both weddings and everyday life, but especially weddings.

I also view modern weddings as being about the bride and groom celebrating their relationship the way they want to, nothing more.

I have heard so many stories and anecdotes about how couples getting married were pressured and guilted into arranging aspects of the wedding to suit a parent’s needs- everything from the type of venue to the food served to what guests were invited.  This does not fit in my view of what a wedding should be.

So what about money?  Many people also say that if parents are paying for the wedding, then they should get a say in what decisions are made.  On a larger scale, I despise that money equals speech equals power in this way.  This also does not fit my view of what a wedding should be.

In my own perfect world, I am open to suggestions from friends and family, but not pressure and guilt.  I am so very thankful for gifts of money with no strings attached so that I may be able to make my own choices along with my partner about how we want to celebrate our relationship with those closest to us.

While I didn’t expect my real world experience to be perfect and blissful, I did have the expectation and made the assumption that there wouldn’t be so much conflict.  I did assume (or just didn’t really think about) that parents wouldn’t have their own expectations, or that they at least wouldn’t impose them onto Brian and me.

We’ve run into conflicting values around gender-based traditions, and this is a huge hot button issue for me.  At first, not only was I shocked (because I didn’t anticipate this), but I was also very deeply hurt.  I took it personally, because most traditional gender-based traditions go against the core of how I see myself and how I fit in this world.  They are not fair, they are not equal, they are sexist, they are prejudiced.  They are not Brian and they are not me.

I had these moments of  do you know me at all?!  I was incredulous.  Beside myself.  This is 2012, after all, and I didn’t think I would have to explain values that are a given for me, that are common sense, especially to the people who are closest to me.  It hurt.

And then I got it.  I realize that these traditional values held by family members have nothing to do with me.  In taking a step back, I realize that the traditional way of doing things, the assumption that things will be done the way they always have, is also taken for granted; it’s a given for people who hold those values, same as me for my values.

I also get that those expectations parents have about their kids and how things will turn out to be actually have nothing to do with the kid.

I feel that at the root of these conflicts is the basic value that Brian and I hold in terms of our wedding being exclusively about us and our relationship and not about pleasing anyone else.  Of course we want our guests to be comfortable and of course we want all these people to come and eat and be happy and have a great time, but not at the expense of Brian’s and my values and preferences.

Separating these things out has taken the sting away, but it’s still hard.  I still feel hurt, as much as I try not to be.  I still wish very much that family members would magically agree with me on these values.  More realistically, we have requested that while we can’t expect people to understand or agree with our values, we at least ask that our values be respected.

One thing I worry about is the possibility of these conflicts in values to keep coming up as Brian and I go through the life cycle.  I don’t want to feel this as a burden moving forward in my life.

So far, these conflicts have made Brian and I really focus on what we want for ourselves and how we plan to achieve these things, and that has felt incredibly validating, uniting, and empowering.  It creates this magical us-against-the-world type feeling and really makes me wanna go hunt down some zombies with Brian by my side.

And, by getting married, that’s basically what we’re getting ready to do.

Update: You know what folks, sometimes when I am in a more easygoing mood about life, I read this post back and it sounds a bit too dramatic and overblown.  Please note that this post was mainly about me wanting to express myself and processing feelings, and that process is messy and weird.  The end.