Covid weddings. Scaled-down, outdoors, streaming. They’re a sign of the times. That’s why the recent New York Times headline “Their Focus Was on the Marriage, Not the Wedding” got my attention. The article detailed the story of a Texas couple, Carmen and Aaron, who met on Bumble, fell in love, moved in together, and then decided to get married. And, like so many pandemic couples, instead of putting off the wedding, they decided to go for an outdoor ceremony, with most loved ones attending via zoom.
Like most couples, at first they were immersed in the planning. Then, just a few weeks before the wedding, a crazy Texas storm threw their state into an odd deep freeze and thousands – including Carmen and Aaron – lost electricity. As a result, they had no water or power and, in the unexpected cold, a pipe burst and covered 60% of their home in water.
Overnight, their life became a big mess, but it turns out, a blessing in disguise. The bride later told the Times, “My focus became less on the outward appearance of a wedding and more on beginning our marriage.” The groom agreed and said, “That is what matters the most.” Carmen is wise, Aaron is correct.
Covid’s Gift to Newlyweds
Covdi restrictions created huge changes everywhere, and wedding venues are no exception. However, not all of them are bad or disappointments.
In “normal” times, most brides and grooms spend a couple of years and thousands of dollars planning the one-day event that someone said they would remember forever. That’s a ton of pressure. As a result, when the wedding becomes the focus, the couple spends very little time, if any, planning the marriage they say they want to last “til death do they part”. Makes no sense, right?
Yes, they talk about where they’ll live, or, if they are already living together, will live next. And maybe they gush about being soulmates and talk about their love for each other and have some big dreams. It’s not enough.
When the crap hits the fan, the couple doesn’t know what to do about it. They argue, resentment results, problems aren’t solved, and then they get into a “rinse and repeat” pattern. The magic of make-up sex lasts just so long…and, little by little, loves dies.
In pandemic times, with couples having fewer wedding distractions, they have more bandwidth to talk about life after they say “I Do”. However, like being alone in a desert, many wonder, “what should we be talking about now?”
Top Ten Questions That Matter Now…and Later
For couples, like you, who seriously want your love to grow-not-go, here are ten questions to talk about – and they can make the difference between “yes I do” and “so sorry I did.” Take some time to answer these alone and then get together and compare…and discuss.
- What are our top five “couple values” – the ones we will live by and use to make decisions?
- What are your top five expectations for me and for our relationship?
- What’s one thing you hated about your parent’s marriage – and how will you avoid repeating the pattern in our marriage?
- How will we split the household responsibilities?
- Do we want children? If we do, will one of us be a stay-at-home parent? How will that look to make it fair for both of us?
- What if we can’t get pregnant? Are you open to invitro or adoption?
- Do either of us have debt? If so, how will we pay it off?
- What’s one boundary that I need you to respect (e.g. no one – including you – is allowed to yell at me)?
- How will we budget or split our money to pay the bills, e.g. rent/mortgage, utilities, debt, credit cards, car payments, savings, fun?
- What are your deal-breakers – things I know I can’t live with you if you do them, e.g., cheating, addiction, lying
What To Expect
As you and your sweetie work through these, your answers will give you a better picture of who you’re marrying and what your life together will look like – in real life, not wedding fantasies. Also, they will likely lead to other rich discussions. Choose that opportunity to get better together.
Actually, just the exercise of talking about your future will give you practice in communicating with each other. You’ll get to see what it’s like to be on the same page of one issue, and also what not being on the same page is like. That alone is worth the time and energy it’ll take to work through these – and what you learn will be a million times better, and longer lasting, than what you’ll get from a good DJ, great-tasting wedding cake, and purple napkins at a big wedding.
For more questions and tips about marriage including how to shift the marriage paradigm in your favor, you’ll find them in my book, available in paperback and Kinlde on Amazon, The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm.