Can't We Elope?
Q: I'm 32 and my fiance is 34. We had an online romance that progressed into a deeper relationship. We have finally moved in with each other. I finally asked her to marry me, and now the wedding planning begins.
She wants to marry in her hometown since most of her family still lives there. Me? I don't really care where we get married. I'm not big on ceremonies, but I know it's important to her. Unfortunately, she really wants me to get involved, but I really have no desire to do anything. How do I break it to her gently that I would rather elope than go through all this planning craziness?
Dr. Susan: You're lucky to have this early opportunity to learn how to resolve the differences between you. You'd rather elope. That's unlikely to happen, no matter how gently you bring up the idea. Your fiancé has been counting on a big family-centered wedding, and to take that from her would seem ungenerous. You can certainly let her know your feelings: "You know, hon, if it were up to me entirely, I'd choose that we elope. But since this is about the two of us, we need to find a way to make us both happy. How about you help me envision what you want, keeping in mind that I'd always choose less ritual and showiness over more. Then we can talk about what I can do to get involved and make things run more smoothly for both of us." It's unrealistic of her to expect you to get equally excited in the planning of the details, since they seem so superfluous to you. After all, this is about the two of you and how much you love one another, not about putting on a performance for relatives. At least, that's how you see it, and that's as permissible as her perception.
The hard part may be for your fiance to accept that you will not see everything the way she does, from here on out, and that it doesn't mean you love her less. And for you, I'd suggest trying to drum up a little enthusiasm for the big day, since it's so important to her. Genuine enthusiasm, once you agree on some reasonable parameters. Many couples find wedding planning extremely stressful, and most of that craziness, as you call it, can be alleviated by keeping the essentials in mind. Who is this for? Who are you living your lives for? How will you resolve such differences from now on? You each need to try to see things from the other's point of view, and then come up with a joint "story" you can both live happily with -- ever after. Good luck!
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.