â€śIâ€™m thrilled, but nervous, too,â€ť said Tracy about her recent engagement. â€śIt
seems like every bride hits the wall at some point. I donâ€™t want that to
happen to me.â€ť
Youâ€™ve probably seen at least one bride â€śhit the wallâ€ť yourself. The moment
comes when she canâ€™t outrun her to-do list, keep everyone happy, and enjoy her
fiancĂ© all at the same time. She ends up exhausted, resentful, and
Itâ€™s no mystery why this happens. Most brides these days have a
full-to-the-brim life before they get engaged. Then they add a major life
transition and planning the biggest party of their lives. To top it off, the
bride and groom often have very different expectations of the engagement
The remedy? Know whatâ€™s important to you and whatâ€™s not. You feel balanced
when the way you spend your time is in alignment with your values. This is
true any time, and even more so at major life transitions. What you need is a
vision for your engagement. A vision is a description of your priorities. Itâ€™s
the way you make your dreams specific, so you can make them come true. Itâ€™s
your compass. When you feel overwhelmed, it will serve as your guide.
Doesnâ€™t sound romantic? Well, consider this. Time will not change just because
youâ€™re engaged. You will still have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will
focus on some things and not others. The only question is whether you do it
deliberately or accidentally. Something else to consider: your experience of
your wedding day depends on your experience of your engagement. You canâ€™t be
stressed and out of balance and then turn on a dime and be a radiant bride.
A vision is also a way to head off trouble between you and your fiancĂ©. I
counsel couples all the time who are upset with each other over different
expectations of their engagement. Often, she is dreaming of a timeless,
romantic interlude while he just expects life as usual. The earlier you
understand what each of you is hoping for, the less chance youâ€™ll have this
kind of misunderstanding.
Hereâ€™s how to create your vision. Sit down with your fiancĂ©. Each of you takes
a piece of paper and writes five headings:
Relationship with my fiancĂ©
Relationships with family and friends
You may want to add more life areas, but try to keep it to just one or two.
Under each heading, write your top priorities. Limit yourself to no more than
three. I know that will be hard, but that gives you fifteen goals in all! If
you accomplish those, you will be doing very well. For example, here is what
Relationship with fiancĂ©
Improve our communication and ability to settle arguments.
Make our engagement to be a special, romantic time of our lives.
Find a church weâ€™re both comfortable attending as a family.
Relationship with family and friends
Get to know each otherâ€™s families.
Spend â€śgirl timeâ€ť with my mom, planning the wedding.
Spend time with my grandmother.
Stay in shape.
Hold onto my identity as I become a married woman.
Find a hairstyle I really love.
Save 10% of my salary.
Start making a financial plan with my fiancĂ©.
Stay on track for a promotion in the next two years.
(Hint: Itâ€™s a really good idea not to take on new major projects at this time
if you can avoid it. That goes for the rest of your life as well. Save the
kitchen remodel for another year.)
Have a beautiful, elegant atmosphere.
Find a beautiful dress that really expresses my taste.
Make our exchange of vows a meaningful experience.
Tracyâ€™s fiancĂ© Jim came up with a slightly differently list. He didnâ€™t know
extra â€śgirl timeâ€ť was on the calendar. And they didnâ€™t quite see eye to eye
over time devoted to work. Jim has a lot of opportunities he would like to
take advantage of right now and Tracy is afraid that wouldnâ€™t leave much time
for romance. Itâ€™s a good thing theyâ€™re talking about it early on!
Once youâ€™ve got your vision, you can return to it whenever you feel out of
balance or overwhelmed. It will be easy to see where your actions are out of
alignment with your priorities.
Hereâ€™s how. Look at the last week. Write down the actions you have taken that
support each priority.
Are there priorities without any actions? What result will you get if you
continue to neglect them? What actions do you need to add?
Are there actions that donâ€™t support your priorities? What priorities do they
support? What result will you get if continue to pursue them?
For example, Tracy realized that looking for a church was not showing up on
her calendar, partly because of the continuing education classes that took up
a lot of her free time. Sharpening her skills was important, but she decided
it was OK to slow down a bit, for the sake of laying a strong foundation for
For actions that donâ€™t support your top priorities, you have three choices.
Cut back on them, delegate them to a friend or relative, or hire a
professional to do them for you. Donâ€™t overlook the power of delegation,
especially when it comes to the wedding. Is your mother, stepmother, or friend
being just a bit controlling? Make her feel valued and take the pressure off
you by putting her in charge of a specific task, say the invitations or the
flowers. And donâ€™t assume you canâ€™t afford to hire help. Get the numbers and
look realistically at the trade offs. Your peace of mind may be well worth the
Still not sure that you need a vision? When your wedding draws near and you
feel rested, delighted with your wedding, close to your family, and more in
love than ever with your fiancĂ©, Iâ€™ll bet youâ€™ll change your mind.
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