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Eliminate Family Fights From Wedding Atmosphere
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weddings symbolize family fellowship and love, but the preparation period before a ceremony is often characterized by numerous family arguments as well.
Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said planning a wedding can strain emotions of the couple, their parents and extended families.
"A wedding involves so many different people in two different families, and everyone is likely to have their own preconceived ideas about how things should be," Davis said.
There are several ways the bride and groom, as well as others involved, can get through the wedding preparations without starting a family feud, Davis said.
An underlying cause for many problems within families is the lack of good, clear communication. Davis said families benefit from getting all their thoughts and ideas out in the open. Good communication involves active, effective listening as well as sensitivity to others' feelings.
"Everyone should practice active listening, which takes extra concentration to be sure each person understands what is said," Davis said.
"Also practice effective listening," Davis said. "Listen without interrupting to let the person know you value their input, even if you disagree with what they say."
Realize that everyone wants to enjoy the wedding. Davis said family members should empathize with others, and be alert to the different types of communication. When there is negative communication, try to understand its cause and handle it in a constructive way, such as brainstorming solutions and avoiding communication blockers.
Davis said communication blockers include being sarcastic, commanding, giving advice, interrogating, placating, moralizing, psychologizing and distracting. These only contribute to a problem.
"In a stressful situation, there are going to be some differences," Davis said. "But keep the negative undertones out when discussing problems.
"Try to reach mutual understandings and compromise. One person shouldn't insist on `winning' whenever a problem arises."
Davis said the most important thing the bride and groom can do is convey to their families that they are important in their lives, and they will continue to be important.
"Remember that a partnership is starting between two people and between two families," she said. "Support and acknowledge the families. Appreciate their advice, even when you don't take it."
Organization is another way to ensure the wedding preparations go smoothly and to ward off stressful problems. Checklists, schedules and budgets can help couples focus on what needs to be done. Procrastination only ensures stress.
"Be willing to share your feelings and thoughts with each other, even the negative, but relate them in a non-threatening way," Davis said. "Preparing for a wedding and trying hard to be understanding and accepting of both families can be a good way to start off a strong marriage."