Writing Vows In the Middle Of A Pandemic!

The love we were promised in fairytales was never something for us to find. It has always been something for us to create.

Tyler Kent White

Many of my couples choose to write their own personal vows – and even those who decide to use traditional vows usually entertain the idea of personal vows.

A couple of weeks prior to their wedding, couples oftentimes will shoot me a frantic email wondering if I’d be willing to take a look at their vows since they aren’t sure if they’re “good enough.”

And then, there are those grooms and brides who simply wait to the last minute – literally the last minute – to compose their vows, hoping that the god of their childhood will grant them unexpected inspiration!

These days no one is sending me their vows as the vast majority of weddings have been put on hold, postponed by several months or longer.

While you and your partner can’t enjoy a food tasting, feel table linens or smell flowers, what you can do is reflect on your vows.

Sheltering-in-place with your partner or even in separate locations is going to bring those vows to life in ways you may not have been able to imagine before.

The traditional vows are traditional because they are simple, powerful and direct in their wording:

I promise to be true to you

In good times and in bad

In sickness and in health

For better, for worse

For richer, for poorer

WOW!

I always am thrilled to stand before two people and witness them gift each other with some variation of these words.

The mystery of it all.

The generosity.

The courage.

I have not officiated a wedding since before we were advised to shelter-in-place. In the days since, I’ve reflected on what weddings will be like when we return – not to an “old normal” but to a new normal.

How will having lived through a pandemic influence the kind of vows couples offer each other? The sentiments as well as the depth of those sentiments.

Here’s the thing –

Have you ever lived with your partner in circumstances like these?!

  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • What are you learning about your partner?
  • What has surprised you?
  • What has reassured you?

The wise poet Mary Oliver wrote,

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Are you paying attention to your partner in ways you’ve not done so before?

Have you been astonished – for good or for not so good?!

When you do have your wedding, and you will, that day will celebrate all your days together AND, in a special way, will celebrate the gift of insight you received during these mad-crazy upside-down days.

I maintain that your postponed wedding will be a heightened experience BECAUSE the two of you lived (and grew) through a pandemic together.

LIVED through it – not simply scrounged through it.

We don’t know what life will be like in the future. We certainly didn’t know prior to the pandemic – BUT back then there were what we called guard rails. Those have been chipped away at.

So, here is the truest of truths – a truth we can barely imagine –

When you and your partner finally gift each other with your vows, you will be pledging to love, to be true to each other, in a world that you will, in one way or another, help recreate.

What are you vowing?

Well, the answer to that question can be seen and felt and heard in how you are living TODAY as you shelter-in-place.

Shelter-in-place.

How are you giving shelter to your partner?

Can you recognize what they need?

Can you tell them what you need?

I’m not sure you can get married post-pandemic without acknowledging what you together experienced in the days of sheltering-in-place.

 These days you are now living through ARE the good times and the bad, the better and the worse.

The “you” of the pandemic is the person you vow to your partner.

Ours has always been and continues to be –

A world of uncertainty.

A world of illness.

A world of death.

A world of invention.

A world of generosity.

A world of courage.

A world of determination.

A world of hope.

How do you help your partner live in this world?

How does your partner help you live in this world?

Who do you pledge to be in this world?

What do you pledge to do in this world?

THAT is the vow you are being asked to gift to your partner.

THAT is the vow family and friends will have waited to bear witness to.

Your words – your vows – will be balm to our hurting hearts.

I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.

Herman Hesse

What Makes a Marriage Work

A few years ago, I reached out to various married friends and asked if they’d reflect on their marriage as a gift to you, my readers.

I’ve known one of those couples, Anne and her husband, Rob, since they were first dating as undergrads at Loyola-Marymount U. At the time Anne’s answers were offered,  they had been married almost 30 years.

A little over a week ago Anne passed away after a two-year battle with cancer. She was a hero of mine. She and Rob brought that word “marriage” to joyous life. 

Since most of you reading this blog are in the throes of planning for your wedding – or now frantically postponing and re-planning your wedding – I thought I’d re-share Anne’s reflections to remind you what can happen after you’ve walked down the aisle – if you live a generous life!

1.  What do you know today about marriage that there was no way you could have known before you got married?

How FUN it is! It is just nice to know that there is someone out there who not only has your back but is actually fun to be with! We laugh a lot.

2.  What three words do you think of when you think of your wedding day?

FUN – FAMILY – LOVE

3.  Why haven’t you gotten divorced?

Really? Why would we ever get divorced? We love each other. Laugh hysterically with each other. Have fun together. Understand each other. We always joke that neither one of us would ever be able to have an affair because we would have to come home and tell each other all about it. Plus, who has the energy?

4.  What three things are you grateful for in your spouse?

So many more than 3 things but if it had to be 3:

  • His complete generosity of spirit. He ALWAYS puts me first (to the point where I have to tell him not to sometimes).
  • He is patient with me.
  • He shows me and tells me that his love for me is unending and grows deeper every day.

5.  One sentence advice you’d give to a couple planning to get married?

Be each other’s biggest fans. Never put your spouse down to someone else. Talk about problems in private. And forgive each other when things do go that way. The world is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder for each other.

6.  What has most surprised you about being married?

How fast it has gone!

7.  How has your partner helped you become who you are today?

This is a really hard one because he has shaped who I am more than anyone in my life. He has given me confidence in myself and given me my strongest identity as a wife and a mother.  Those two jobs are by far the most meaningful experiences of my life. He has supported me in everything I have ever wanted to do and encouraged me to do things I was too afraid to do.

8.  Are you happy you had the celebration you had – or do you wish you had eloped?

Very happy. Except that we didn’t have the celebrant we really wanted. When I see some really great ideas of weddings today I think that it’s cute but we really enjoyed having all of our friends and family together to help us celebrate. That was most important to us.

9.  What did you experience at your wedding that you hope other couples experience at theirs?

LOVE. All kinds of love. Our family and friends and the whole day was filled with love.

10.  In no more than 140 characters sum up your thoughts on marriage!

We have always told our children, “The most important decision you EVER make is who you marry.” They roll their eyes at us because they have heard it so many times. But I think it is the truest thing I know. Rob makes everything in my life better. Life has thrown some doozies at us. We have a special needs child who is now an adult. We have had that call from the police for our most mischievous child. We have dealt with illness and death. But there was never a single moment when I felt like we were not a team. Coming home to Rob is the best part of my day and I thank God every day that He brought him into my life.  (This is more than 140 characters!)

Best Quote of The Year – so far!

Last week. . .

The Procession had started.  I was in position. 

The groom, Eric, took his place next to me. 

He looked out and then leaned in and in an awed voice whispered,

“This really is surreal!”

Duh – It is! 

And what surprised me is that throughout planning, he had a relaxed, almost blasé approach to it all.

You don’t know it just yet – BUT

YOUR wedding ceremony is an out-of-body experience and there’s no way to predict how you’ll feel. . .

Just enjoy it all!

Last month, I officiated a wedding – we were five minutes from “show time” and the event planner had sequestered me with the groom and his groomsmen.

At one point, Pete, the groom, turned to me and with some exasperation said,

“This is stupid! Why am I a mess?”

I laughed. 

The groomsmen laughed. 

Pete laughed.

It’s probably one of the best questions I’ll hear all year!

So, why was Pete a mess? 

While I can’t say for certain, I think it has to do with what the writer Madeleine L’Engle claimed:

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made.

Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens,

and how much risk they are willing to take. 

Because it is the nature of love to create,

a marriage itself is something which has to be created,

so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take.

No wonder Pete was a mess!

No wonder we all were so thrilled to bear witness as they reconfirmed their commitment to taking this BIG risk and to creating a life-giving life!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –

check out my book,

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

Click HERE for details!

Are you thinking of writing personal vows to each other?

If so, I invite you to check out my book –

How to Write Your Vows: Giving Voice to What Is Deep Within

        https://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Your-Vows-Giving/dp/1521337942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496336971&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+write+your+vows

The Best Thing You Can Do While Planning Your Wedding!

However richly inspired by love,marriage is a high wire act that is usually attempted by two nervous wrecks who just go for it, reeling with bliss and blind with the hots. The rest is work, faith and luck.

I like this quote, though I don’t think “luck” has anything to do with it.

Marriage is a conscious commitment. As such, a marriage will “succeed” or “fail” based on your generosity of time, energy and creativity. A marriage will “work” to the degree you are gracious in sharing your body, your thoughts and your feelings.

A wedding celebrates your commitment to being and becoming that generous, gracious partner.

Last week, I met with a couple to put the final touches on their ceremony. I asked how things were going and the groom said: “well, we’re learning to say ‘I’m sorry’ a lot faster than we used to!”

We all laughed.  But, he did speak to an important issue – communication.

Relationship is communication.  The heart of all relationships is communication.

Planning a wedding puts a strain on a couple. Perhaps you’ve noticed?! 

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of the communication in your life.

 To enhance the quality of your relationship, even as you deal with the craziness of planning your wedding, you need to listen to each other – really listen!

A couple came to my home for an initial consultation. We met in my living room. The bride and I were in animated conversation, while the groom tried his best to look interested. Then, out of nowhere, he interrupts and asks me: “Great TV – do you mind if I ask how much?” 

The bride became annoyed that he hadn’t been paying attention to what she was saying to me – and the groom became annoyed that she was annoyed over “nothing.”

Ya gotta love it!

It has been said that listening is the greatest act of love.

If so, then perhaps the greatest thing you can do for each other while planning your wedding is to listen to each other.

Yet, this is where it gets tricky – for brides and grooms approach a wedding from different perspectives. 

Sometimes, a bride and a groom will be paying attention to different details in the wedding planning.  This means, they may not be listening to what the other is saying, since we only pay attention to what we find interesting.

The truth is that how you listen to each other now, as you plan your wedding, is a sure indication of how you will listen to each other the week after your wedding.

Do you listen to each other? 

Or, better, do you feel that your partner listens to you?  Really listens?

The Chinese characters for “listen” are:

Ear

Eye

Heart

Undivided attention

Think about it. Isn’t it true that when you really listen to someone, you are not just “hearing” them? 

You are focused on them – on their face – on their body movement – on the gaps between what they don’t say.

Instagram. Facebook. Pinterest. Texting. We do business and live our lives in a swirl of information; but, how often are we actually listening?

During the planning of your wedding, there is no greater thing you can do for each other than to listen. 

There is no greater thing you can do than to make time to really listen.

Try this:

  1. Make a date with each other
  2. Go some place you both enjoy
  3. Turn off the cell phones
  4. Talk
  5. Relax
  6. Laugh
  7. Listen to the concerns of your partner – those spoken and unspoken
  8. Remind yourselves why you are doing this craziness
  9. Plan.  Plot.  Prepare. 
  10. Laugh

I once came across a card that said: 

A friend is someone who hears the song in your heart and sings it to you when memory fails.

I know – it’s corny! 

But, your “memory” is going to fail you as you plan your wedding.

It’s reassuring if you know that your partner has been listening and will remind you of what your big day is all about – even if they sing off key!

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – check out my book,

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

Click HERE for details!

What Is Your Wedding Celebrating?

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. 

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Pedro Arrupe, s.j.

Your wedding celebrates the life the two of you have created AND it celebrates the life you are committed to creating. 

Your wedding celebrates your love for each other AND for all the loves you have in your life, together and separately.

I believe that a marriage is one, long, grand conversation. 

While it’s so basic a question that I hesitate to even ask, ask you I will. . .

  • Do you know what seizes your partner’s imagination? 
  • Do you know what amazes your partner with joy and gratitude? 
  • What breaks their heart?

While it’s so basic a question that I hesitate to even ask, ask you I will. . .

  • As a couple, what seizes your imaginations together? 
  • Fills you with joy and gratitude? 
  • Could break your hearts?

Your answers to these questions tell the story of your life and commitment.

Let your answers guide you in –

crafting your ceremony

choosing the words for your vows

and

creating your celebration

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – check out my book, How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

Click HERE for details!

A Memory of Weddings Past!

Throwback Tuesday!

This is a posting from 2013 – I can’t believe that I wrote (lived) this seven years ago! It’s one of my all-time fav posts because it’s an homage to some of my all-time fav couples! And once again, I’m reminded of what a lucky guy I am. . .

Enjoy!

However richly inspired by love, marriage is a high wire act that is usually attempted by two nervous wrecks who just go for it, reeling with bliss and blind with the hots.  The rest is work, faith and destiny.

Unknown

In 2012 I had the honor to officiate 72 “high wire acts.”

They ranged from a live-streamed wedding on Facebook to an elopement at Lifeguard Station #8 in Santa Monica. Budgets for these seven-dozen weddings ranged from $500 to $1 million!

The couples were religiously and cross-culturally diverse; straight, gay and lesbian; and ranged in age from twenty-three to sixty-seven. Numbered among these couples were an ex-stripper, an ex-drag queen and a Republican ex-gubernatorial candidate! They came not only from California but also from England, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, China, Japan, Taiwan and Canada.

As I recall my weddings of 2019 and what I learned from the couples, I’m reminded of Albert Einstein’s claim that

There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is. 

While “miracle” is a loaded word, at the very least a wedding is a grand embracing of life in all its glory and uncertainty and messiness. 

Here are seven couples that chose to celebrate their “miracles” with grateful joy.  (names changed).

Roger and Karen. Several months before their wedding he was diagnosed with an unusual form of cancer and they had to put their wedding on hold. On what should have been their wedding day, he was in chemo. Throughout, they together stayed calm, focused, determined and hopeful. They simply did what they had to do. Now, at the start of this New Year, cancer free, they have their sights set on a May wedding. 

Sure, I hear about this kind of story all the time BUT to witness this kind of love – I am in awe.

Denise and Anthony. Her family is ethnically Armenian and Greek-Orthodox by religion, while his family is Persian Muslim. There were so many opportunities and reasons for dissension and fighting within and between the families. And, yet, there wasn’t. Both families gave their blessings. Three hundred people came together to eat, drink, dance, sing, tell stories and celebrate life, love and family on into the wee hours of the morning.

By celebrating what made them unique these families found what they shared in common.  That the cliché “love conquers all” still holds meaning is beyond heartening.

Brad and Cathy. They planned a destination wedding and then Cathy’s mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Doctors advised Cathy that if she wanted her mom at the wedding, she should not wait. And so they cancelled their plans, lost their deposits and reimagined a smaller, less exotic celebration. When I first met with them, Brad explained, “yes, we lost our budget, but the upside is we get to be married sooner!” 

Joy in the midst of devastating chaos is breath taking.

Natalie and Alexander. Widowed before she turned thirty, Natalie had loved her husband and out of respect for him set about re-inventing her life. She went back to school and took off to New Zealand for a semester. Alexander was there from Germany working at a yearlong project. Neither was looking for love, but love found them. Now living in the mid-West they decided to have a small December beach wedding with ten family and friends. They got married by a lifeguard station while a commercial was being filmed on the other side (so LA!).

Natalie mourned her first husband, chose life, and found joy halfway around the world. Could have been a sappy Lifetime movie but instead hers is a story that challenges the pessimistic corners of my heart.

Donna and Michael. They were a sweet, funny couple that got married in her mom’s backyard. At our final meeting Michael told me he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to be marrying someone as kind as Donna. I told him that Donna was just as lucky. He quickly replied, “you don’t understand – I had a knack for dating girls who would end up breaking my heart. It was almost like I enjoyed punishing myself. My last girlfriend was the worst. I had to hit rock bottom before I could find Donna.”

In matters of the heart, we can be so unkind to ourselves. I marvel that he had the capacity to hear a buried voice that let him remember what his heart longed for.

Jen and Kim. Ten years ago I officiated their commitment ceremony during a magical weekend celebration in Napa. Fifty of us had gathered to bless them as they offered their vows to create a life-giving life. We all hoped that “someday” their union would be recognized for what it was – a marriage.  I suspect, though, few of us thought it would ever happen. But so it did.  Last Fall they renewed their vows with their three-year-old twin daughters as flower girls.

Kim’s mom signed the marriage license as the official witness. Her eyes glistened with joy – as did everyone’s.

Tanya and Jordan. The day before our initial meeting, Tanya learned she was pregnant.  She came from a Colombian family of devout Catholics. Her father was deceased and so her mom would walk her down the aisle. When her mother learned that I was wearing a suit and not religious robes, she was concerned. What will the family think? Ah, mothers!  What makes her question poignant, though, is that after her husband died, Tanya’s mom fell in love with a woman – who has been her partner for ten years!    

While I puzzled at her fixation with my lack of robes, I also laughed with Tanya and Robert over how weddings wackily turn normal people’s brains upside-down!

Each of my 72 couples reminded me, week after week, that life is good and worthy of our best.

If the ultimate goal in life is to become ever more fully human, to love and be loved, then all my couples challenged me to be true to that quest.

UPDATE: For all getting married in 2020 and beyond may you, like these couples, find unbridled joy in your celebration!

If you want tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – check out my book,

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

6 Quotes to Get You Thinking About Your Vows!

 

Last month I officiated the memorial of  the father of a friend.  He and his wife had been married for more than fifty years.

 

I know that this is a wedding blog and not a funeral blog BUT since the memorial I’ve become more sensitized to the vows, “in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

 

A wedding naturally looks to the Future, yet maybe one’s vows will only fully be understood at the end of one’s life.

 

In prepping for the memorial, I rummaged around various quotes I’ve collected over time that are funeral appropriate (I’m not morbid – it’s just that I’ve done a fair number of funerals/memorials over the years).

 

In looking over some of these quotes, I realize they actually could help in the writing of vows. . .

 

Hope this doesn’t sound creepy!

 

6 quotes to help you reflect on what you and your partner are vowing to each other!

 

 

 

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.

You can only decide how you’re going to live.  Now.

Joan Baez

 

  • How do you and your partner want to live?
  • Have you talked about the particulars and the dreams?
  • Have you figured out a strategy to make your wants and dreams help you live – and not just exist?

 

 

Still – in a way – nobody sees a flower – really. 

It is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time,

like to have a friend takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe

 

  • Have you and your partner found ways to make time for and with each other?
  • Do you “see” each other in those times or do you feel taken for granted?

 

 

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for others?

George Eliot

 

  • How do you make life less difficult for your partner?
  • How does your partner make life less difficult for you?

 

 

It costs so much to be fully human that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price.  One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms open.  One has to embrace the world like a lover.  One has to accept pain as a condition of existence.  One has to count doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing.  One needs a will stubborn in conflict but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.

Shoes of The Fisherman

Morris West

 

  • Are you and your partner committed to becoming “fully human”?
  • How do you give each other the courage?

 

 

These next two quotes mention “God” – but even if you are not a believer, I think they can challenge you in your commitment to each other. . .

 

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say,

“I used everything you gave me.”

Erma Bombeck

 

  • How do you help your partner develop and use their talents?
  • How does your partner help you develop and use your talents?

 

 

When we die and go to heaven, and we meet our Maker, our Maker is not going to say to us,

“Why didn’t you become a messiah?” 

“Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such?” 

The only thing we’re going to be asked at that precious moment is,

“Why didn’t you become ‘you’?”

Eli Wiesel

 

  • What does it mean for “you” to become “you”?
  • For your partner to become him or her own self?
  • How can you help each other in that great, ultimate undertaking?

 

Are you thinking of writing personal vows to each other?

If so, I invite you to check out my book –

How to Write Your Vows: Giving Voice to What Is Deep Within

Do You Pay Attention To Your Partner?

The worst that can be said of a person is that they “did not pay attention.”

William Meredith

I’m not sure how I came across the above quote, but it has stayed with me for years. 

I often quote Meredith in my communication training seminars since so much of “mis-communication” is about “mis-perception,” about not paying attention.

So the question for this post is simply this:

Do you and your partner pay attention to each other?

Especially now as you’re planning your wedding?

Like many of the questions I pose on this blog and in my books, this one seems embarrassingly simple because, of course, you pay attention, isn’t that what it means to love someone?!

I’m going to maintain, though, that it’s easy to stop paying attention without even being aware, not because you’ve stopped loving your partner, but rather, because you’re so busy. 

And because you love each other and because you’re busy, it’s easy to think, “we’ll he knows I love him,” or “she knows that I support her.”

The thing is, “knowing” isn’t enough

We need to be reassured, especially in times of stress.

So, how do you let your partner know that you’re paying attention? 

What does your partner need to do in order for you to be reassured that he or she is paying attention?

Remember: 

Texting conveys info that is brief and to the point; it doesn’t convey feelings. It’s not a guaranteed reassurance that you’re paying attention.

On the other hand, simply looking at your partner and not being distracted with multi-tasking is a great act of reassurance!

The most reassuring of reassurances are conveyed in mindful little ways.

If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond – check out my book,

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

Click HERE for details!

Your “Dream” Ceremony

SONY DSC

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.

Barbara Kingsolver

Last summer a couple hired me for their wedding that took place last month. 

We had a great first meeting – they wanted a ceremony that honored them as a couple and that included certain cultural traditions. 

Because they booked me so far out, I suggested we get together again after the holidays, in mid-January. I left it up to the couple to contact me, though I assured them that I’m available at any time.

Well, the couple emailed me just two weeks before their wedding and they didn’t have time to meet in person. 

The bride explained she’d been so busy with other preparations that she “totally” forgot about the ceremony.

Sadly, they weren’t able to have any of the personal elements they wanted – not even their own vows – because they’d run out of energy and focus. 

They were too busy with last minute details to worry about the ceremony.

As a wedding officiant I’m biased, as I happen to believe the ceremony is the heart and soul of your celebration. 

I felt for this bride who was so obsessed with creating her dream wedding that she neglected the ceremony.

I’m surprised at the number of couples who talk about their “dream” reception, “dream honeymoon,” BUT have no idea what their “dream” ceremony looks like.

I think you can have a great reception even if you have a dreadful ceremony. 

However, if you have a great ceremony, it propels your guests into the party and reminds them of what it is they’re celebrating.

So, what does your dream ceremony look like?

Are you thinking of writing personal vows to each other?

If so, I invite you to check out my book –

How to Write Your Vows: Giving Voice to What Is Deep Within

True Kindness

When the heart is truly open, there is a natural sense of appreciation for others, even while being aware of their imperfections.

Don Rosenthal

I recently reunited with a couple whose wedding I officiated fifteen years ago.

They look older but their spirits are as I remember them. Open, inquisitive, yet clearly defined in their ongoing aspirations. “Jack Daniels” joined us at the table and story begat story.

It was a magical night.

As I was leaving, Ira suddenly asked me, “Do you know why Maureen and I are still in love?”

Various answers came to mind, but I just said, “No, why are you still in love?”

With pride he replied, “We’re kind to each other.”

Ira explained how he and Maureen consciously decided that they didn’t ever want to lose sight of being each other’s partner and best friend – not punching bag or dumping ground for the day’s irritations.

So simple, yet so challenging!

While there are many ways in which to be kind to your partner, how you express what you’re feeling is one of the most important.

Letting your partner know how you feel in a way that doesn’t turn him or her into that punching bag is one of the kindest things you can do for each other. 

Here are 4 ways to avoid turning your partner into a “punching bag”

1. Has anyone ever been annoyed with you and sarcastically asked, “What the #@$% is wrong with you?” And when they asked what’s wrong with you, did you smile, sit down and tell them what’s wrong with you? Didn’t think so!

Loudly attacking your partner with phrases such as, “What’s wrong with you?” or “You’re driving me nuts!” will definitely drive your partner away.

They’ll be so annoyed with you that they won’t want to talk to you later on or help you. And why should they?

AVOID: outbursts.

They just signal you’re in a bad mood without offering any insight into why. There’s never a good time to be nasty!

2. Do you end heated “discussions” with, “That’s just how I am”?

No one is ever “just” something.

We always feel a certain way for a reason. If you don’t tell your partner why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, they’ll storm off thinking you’re being a jerk.

AVOID: dramatic declarations.

They provide no clue as to why you are the way you “just” are and most likely your partner is going to feel “just” fed up with you for stonewalling him or her.

3.  When you say, “I’m kinda mad at you right now”, how mad is “kinda”?

Is your “kinda” the same as your partner’s “kinda”?

Understated expressions can only confuse your partner.

The clearer you are in describing how you feel – and why – the better chance your partner has of understanding you and being able to help you.

AVOID: vague words such as, “a little”, “sort of”, “I guess”, “maybe” and “a few” because while you know what you mean by these words, your partner may not.

When you say, “I’ll be there in a few minutes,” how many minutes is that “few”?  The more specific you are, the better you increase your chances of being misunderstood.

4. Beware of YOU! 

When you attack the other person with a barrage of “you’s” – “You never”, “You always”, “You disappoint me”,  “You make me sick” – all the other person can do is one of two things:  lash out or become defensive.

AVOID: clobbering your partner with the word “you.”

This one little word has the power to press your partner’s buttons.

You know how you react when someone attacks you with “you,” so why attack your partner with “you” when you know what you’re doing?!

We’re all guilty of what I’ve described here.

Why?

Because old habits die hard.

Because we’re lazy.

Because we think we don’t or shouldn’t have to explain ourselves.

Consider these questions:

  • In the past week, how many times have you accused your partner of not “caring”?
  • In the past week how many times have you complained to someone about your partner not understanding you? 
  • In the past week how many times have you understated your feelings or bombarded your partner with “you” accusations? 
  • What would you like to see happen differently?

Remember:

You and your partner protect and keep each other sane when –

you are aware of and acknowledge each other’s feelings

try to understand and not judge those feelings

take responsibility for owning and expressing your feelings

Now that’s being kind!

If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –

check out my book,

How to Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!

OR –

Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.

Click HERE for details!