This blog consists of two parts. Part A focuses on supporting Brides and Grooms to-be individually, whereas Part B: Keeping it Together – Helpful Tips for Wedding Couples During COVID-19 (Written by Alex Guidotti) focuses on supporting couples together.
Many couples have been forced to cancel or postpone their dream wedding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This difficult and heartbreaking decision has impacted brides and grooms to-be in numerous ways. Each individual in the relationship may feel varying levels of anxiety and stress, as well as increased pressure to make quick decisions.
This blog focuses on supporting each person in the relationship individually, which can be especially helpful for:
- Couples who do not live together yet
- Couples who find themselves arguing often and projecting stress onto each other
- Couples who are in a long-distance relationship and cannot support each other as needed
- Couples in general who may be experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety
The following information provides tips and suggestions for reducing personal stress and anxiety that may be impacting your relationship:
When one person in a relationship feels off, it can be easy for those feelings to rub off on the other person. Suppressing unpleasant emotions can lead us to projecting unwanted stress onto our partner. We all react to stressful experiences differently, but learning how to regulate our emotions can enhance our personal well-being and lead to improvements in the relationship. Try these strategies out to manage your emotions:
- Label or name your emotions. Understanding and acknowledging your feelings is a helpful step in being able to regulate them
- Rate the intensity of each emotion. It may surprise you to learn which emotion is actually overpowering you
- Reflect on these thoughts and feelings by journal-writing. Set a timer to prevent yourself from overthinking
- Click here to try a great exercise by Nick Wignall that can help you regulate your emotions step-by-step
Allowing Yourself to Grieve
It can be difficult to accept changes to desired aspects of your wedding. You have the right to feel disappointed and mourn the loss of your dream wedding. It is crucial that each partner has the chance to cope in their own way, as this can help you refocus both of your goals. Allow yourself to mourn by using the 5 steps of grief as a guideline:
- Denial is a defense mechanism that is often used to protect ourselves from unwanted thoughts and feelings. You may have been in denial about canceling or postponing your wedding at first. Allow yourself time and patience to handle this shock.
- The next stage is anger. You could be angry at anything and everything, while really thinking, “Why do I have to go through this? This isn’t fair.” It’s important to find healthy ways to release these angry thoughts and feelings.
- Then comes bargaining. The constantly changing rules about physical distancing can add uncertainty and even give you hope that you won’t have to make changes to your special day. It can be easy to focus on the “what ifs” or even ruminate on what you could have done differently. Remember that bargaining doesn’t often lead to a solution, but that doesn’t mean you are as helpless as you might feel.
- Depression can be expressed in numerous ways. It can be a struggle to sleep, wake up and eat on time, shower, etc. Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Remember that your partner may be experiencing similar feelings and going through their own grieving process, so it can be beneficial to talk to a friend or a professional who is trained to help.
- The last stage is acceptance. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel 100% fine about the loss of your dream wedding (or having to make undesired changes to your wedding). This stage is about embracing a new reality and working toward new goals and re-creating your dreams.
Acknowledge what you have lost and remember that grief can come and go in waves. It is not a linear process and you may even find yourself experiencing all the stages of grief in a single day.
It can be incredibly overwhelming to make decisions under pressure. There are several factors that may lead to difficulties making decisions during this time, such as worrying about making the wrong decision, focusing on your guests, learning that some vendors or the new wedding date you want is not available, etc. Individuals with perfectionist tendencies may also feel fear of not achieving the standards they set for themselves and procrastinate making decisions.
Try to implement the following strategies to help you make decisions:
- Write down the decisions you have to make in the form of a “to-do” list. It may help to list them in no specific order and prioritize the decisions according to importance afterward
- Create pros and cons lists for decisions you’re struggling with. For example, if you can’t decide between two new wedding dates, write out the advantages and disadvantages for each option
- Take breaks and remember to participate in self-care practices to prevent decision fatigue
- Set a deadline for when you would like to have certain decisions made by
- Research explains that deep slow breathing is associated with better decision-making, as it reduces stress levels De Couck, Caers, Musch, Fliegauf, Giangreco, and Gidron (2019). So, take deep breaths and remember to keep the bigger picture in mind when you’re making a decision under pressure. This may help you realize that there are some aspects you’re worrying about and prioritizing that won’t actually make much of a difference at the end of your wedding day.
Planning your special day and other wedding customs is stressful enough without factoring in a global pandemic. You’re allowed to feel sad and disappointment about your own experiences, just as you’re still allowed to feel joy and happiness. Keep gratitude in mind as you prepare to get married– you found someone special that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.
A pandemic cannot and will not cancel love.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If you are interested in booking a counselling session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (403) 454-7600. Nadia is also able to offer telepsychology services (counselling via phone or by video).
De Couck, M., Caers, R., Musch, L., Fliegauf, J., Giangreco, A., & Gidron, Y. (2019). How breathing can help you make better decisions: Two studies on the effects of breathing patterns on heart rate variability and decision-making in business cases. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 139, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.02.011