Monday, February 1, 2010

Wedding Joy Week

For all of my hesitations and doubts about the wedding itself, there are also tons of parts that I'm really enjoying.  I've seen a lot of angst running around the wedding web lately and I relate to it.  But I wonder it there isn't an echo chamber vortex that's pulling us deeper into the challenges instead of lifting us out and back into the good stuff.  And it's important to talk about the challenges that aren't all rainbows and soft-lit love, but it's equally important to talk about the good. Because there definitely is good stuff too, and I'm definitely not talking about the dress, the cake, or the pretty inspiration boards.

When I started realizing this relationship with Jason was different, was bigger and more meaningful than anything else, I didn't know what to make of it.  I couldn't tell if it was love, because it didn't feel like the messed-up versions of love I'd experienced before. So I did a lot of reading about "what is love?" and a lot of trying to decide what love and marriage and commitment really mean. (Yeah, marriage.  At five months in, I knew this could eventually get there, even if it wasn't remotely on my near-term radar.) So what does it mean to fall in love with the right person, outside of the BS notions of Prince Charming perfection or tortured unrequited yearning, or the I-can-save-him impulses (yeah, I've been to all of those dark places.) In my process of research, I found one idea that really resonated with me, and has come to matter in non-relationship aspects of my life as well: the 80% concept. 

It's the idea that nothing is 100% perfect: not a job, not a house, not a relationship, and not a wedding.  I'm certainly not perfect, so it's ridiculous to expect that a relationship will be.  Extend that to your family, and you can see why wedding perfection and ease-of-implementation is one big, silly myth. So if you get 80% good and 20% bad, you're one of the lucky ones.  I'd go so far as to argue that 70% and 30% bad is a pretty good ratio too, as it certainly falls squarely on the positive side of the equation.  (Good and bad are also contextual, of course.  If you're in a relationship where he's great 80% of the time and physically assaults you the other 20%, there's zero good in that.  But you know that's not what I mean in the 80/20 analogy.)  The point is that life is full of great and awful moments, so we should try and focus on the great things, mitigate the bad to the best of your ability, and ultimately accept that everything is a trade-off but that you certainly have it pretty good at 80% awesome.

The point is, that I think there's a lot of great things about planning a wedding, if you do it right.  Is it 80%?  I'm not sure.  There are tons of frustrations, ridiculous expenses, and absurd pressures from yourself, your family and society at large.  However, I want to make it clear that I'm finding a lot of reasons to truly enjoy this process too, and it's certainly over the 50% positive threshold.  So, this week, I'm putting aside the angst to focus on the pleasures, joys, and all the reasons that planning a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime process that I am savoring.  Maybe it's 80% joy and maybe it's somewhat less, but I want to move beyond the concept of loving/hating our DIY projects, loving/hating picking flowers, and generally all hating our financial constraints.  Because weddings are something a lot more than that.  Weddings are (hopefully) joy, in all their myriad forms, despite all the also-associated stresses.  Despite those stresses, I'm not convinced that rushing towards marriage, regardless of how long we've been together and how committed we were before the engagement, is the best way to approach the process.*  I'm finding that my eventual marriage will be stronger and more fulfilling because of this process of working through the stresses together.  We're consciously taking time to appreciate each other, to learn new and nuanced layers about each others' personalities and families, and discovering surer footing as we learn to stand together as a solid unit, facing challenges wedding planning head on.  So, this week, I want to get back to focusing on that 80% joy, in all its complexity, and give a big eff you to the 20% of the cr*p that's outside of my control anyhow.

*nor is it the worst way to approach the process.  There are benefits to both approaches. 


  1. i love this idea. I also was feeling the vortex of doom these past few weeks. :)

    I look forward to the vortex of HAPPY!

  2. I've too have been feeling the vortex of doom. Perhaps it's just January blues? I'm going to blame January.

    Hooray for focusing on the Happy.

  3. this is great :) looking forward to reading more. i love keeping it on the positive.

  4. You are so right! I think once I realized this I felt a sense of calm that I hadn't before, and that permeated to many other aspects of life too. Great post!

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  6. Well yes, but I think we spend a TON of time talking about the great stuff (I do, at least). And it's honoring to women, and validating, to allow them to talk about the not-so-good as well, and not limiting our discussion to positive ONLY. That's no more an echo chamber than the 95% of the time we talking about the great stuff, the huge stuff, the transcendent stuff. That's just allowing for honesty, which allows people with mixed emotions to feel, well, NORMAL.

    It's only a echo chamber if you let it echo. So you're right, let the good stuff echo... it is, indeed, most of what you'll remember.

    And there is some mid-long engagement lows, in my experance... so you'd be on track for that, and it's normal. Then there will be more highs, and the month before strain, and then wedding zen, then joy, and then bliss. It comes and goes and comes and goes :)

  7. @Meg: Ah yes, I fully expect/hope for those transcendent joys of the wedding itself. But I'm speaking more specifically about the joys inherent in the planning. They are less obvious and more nuanced than the wedding-day joys (I imagine) and they are often overshadowed by the planning process' stresses. But nonetheless, I think they are important and deserving of a little more savoring.

    Hence, a week to celebrate the planning process. Because there's been a LOT of doom and gloom in the personal-wedding-blog world I frequent, as of late. And as much as it's important to have an honest space to scream a bit, I think it's also important to stand back for a moment and reflect on the in-the-moment positives.

  8. I just said it on Cupcake's blog too - if you can survive wedding planning, all will be good. Wedding planning is crap. Marriage is awesome.

  9. well said. It's all about finding balance!

  10. I have a tendency to focus on the 20% (or whatever percentage) in most areas of my life. It is a personal issue that I've been working on for years. So it is no surprise that my posts have headed in that direction as well. Thank you for your post and for reminding me to think and talk about the good stuff too. Sometimes I just have a hard time seeing it through the piles of bank statements and unfinished DIY projects. :)

  11. What a great post...I'm so glad you have this perspective. Planning my wedding has been a super fun and enjoyable experience. Even though Mr Fix It would not think so, it is something I only get to do once in my life and I try to savor everything about it. And it really has allowed us to grow closer as I appreciate the sweet differences between us on this path. Mr Fix It is all about the house, the honeymoon and the day to day life we are about to embark on whereas I am all about the vows and the emotion of the day. Where that will lead us on April 16th, who knows? It could all fall apart...and that would be okay. As I have enjoyed the planning so much, that the marriage will far make up for anything that goes wrong on the big day. :)

    I totally agree with your 80/20 ratio and analysis of the good and bad. I think we fully fall into that analogy.


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