Don't Let Your Friend's Wedding Ruin Your Relationship

As your friend says "I do," don't get caught up in "I wish it was me."

Ah, the joy of weddings. You’ve already spent a fortune on an outfit you’ll probably never wear again and hassled out your man by forcing him to don a barong tagalog and drive all the way to Tagaytay. But, neither of these stresses compare with the pressure of the day itself, because a wedding makes you think about your own relationship’s future.

“My friend’s mom and dad split up after her wedding,” says Lou, 27, a nurse. “Her mom watched her walk down the aisle and realized she didn’t feel that way about her husband anymore.” We asked Marina Licht, editor of Cosmo Bride UK, and relationships counselor Suzie Hayman, to come up with five rules to get you through the day. Read on, and make sure you’re the second couple on the dance floor.

Rule 1: Don’t compare your man’s behavior to the charming groom’s.
“Sitting beside my man in his wrinkled barong, listening to him drone on about basketball to another guest, my heart sank,” says Susan, 26, an events organizer. “I couldn’t help but think how sweet my friend’s new husband was. I made a comment about it and now my boyfriend’s convinced he’s not good enough.”

Just as it isn’t fair to compare an unflattering photo of yourself on a boozy night out to an airbrushed celebrity on an EDSA billboard, you shouldn’t compare your boyfriend to the groom. As Hayman says, “The groom is exactly where he wants to be—he’s anticipated this day for months and is on his best behavior! Of course he’s happy and glowing.” By contrast, your man hardly knows anyone and it’s not the best day of his life. He’s probably worrying about work and is missing a friend’s birthday to be here. Take a moment to consider that perhaps the reason he’s drinking the wine like a fish is to get over his nerves so he can make polite conversation with strangers.

Besides, the bride—having been relentlessly told how lucky she is by the groom’s adoring mom—will probably be happy to provide you a list of her man’s faults.
 
Rule 2: Don’t “take the vows.”
“I went to my cousin’s wedding with James, a really nice guy I’d been seeing for only a month,” says Amy, 19, an NGO volunteer. “My cousin looked so in love with her husband at the wedding, so devoted, so sure she wouldn’t stray—and I’d already been checking out the cute best man! I wondered if I’d ever be able to make that sort of commitment to James.”

There’s nothing like hearing two people make a solemn vow to each other to get you thinking if your own relationship can last the distance. But, just because the couple at the altar is ready to say these words doesn’t mean you are. “Weddings bring everyone’s desires and fantasies into sharp focus,” says Hayman. “I’d predict that every woman in the room is either imagining her own big day or remembering it! This is fine—don’t feel that you have to fight it—but make sure you keep such daydreams firmly in the ‘fantasy’ box. If you turn to your partner with bouquets in your eyes, you’re not thinking about what will make either of you happy—just taking the ‘fantasy’ too far.” Stay objective and be happy with the relationship you have right now.

Rule 3: Don’t swallow the speeches.
Nina, 25, a teacher, started to feel insecure after hearing the speeches at her sister’s wedding. “Listening to Joel reel off the things he loved about Gemma, I got really paranoid about whether my boyfriend would ever say the same things about me,” she says. “We love each other, but I’m aware that he doesn’t find every little thing I say or do loveable!”

We’re not doubting for one moment that the groom adores his new wife’s lust for life and she adores the fact he sings in the shower, but do you really think they’re going to mention all the stuff that drives them mad? Of course not. “This is a wedding speech; you’re not going to hear him moan about how she leaves the lid off the toothpaste,” says Hayman. “Believe the intent behind the speeches, but don’t think this means they don’t argue or have any problems and that your relationship is failing if you do.”

And, don’t despair if your boyfriend struggles with the most basic form of flattery. “Even the most unromantic men can do or say something amazing when they get married—we read countless stories of sweet, unexpected gestures on our website, www.youandyourwedding.co.uk,” says Licht.

If you can’t shake off the bitter bug, console yourself with the thought that the groom probably downloaded that perfect poem for his new wife from a website.

Rule 4: It’s her day, not yours.
Carla, 22, an admin assistant, had been looking forward to her best friend’s wedding for months. “I was determined it would be the perfect weekend with my new man. So, when he showed up, all hungover, and the hotel he’d booked was miles from the venue, I was furious and he couldn’t understand what my problem was. Needless to say, there was a bit of tension between us at the wedding.”

Fact: Men don’t get as excited about other people’s weddings as we do. And much as it pains us to say, men have the right idea. You’re perfectly entitled to panic on your own big day, but on your friend’s, your only duty is to show up and enjoy yourself. “One of the most hideous things I’ve ever seen was Liz Hurley attending a wedding in a dress slashed to the waist—all paparazzi flashes were in her direction and she totally upstaged the bride and groom,” says Hayman. “Your role is simple: to celebrate your friends’ nuptials with them and make sure they have one of the best days of their lives. If this isn’t your priority, I’m afraid you’re not being a friend.”

If you want to push it, tell your man this is a big deal to you and to expect fireworks if he doesn’t make an effort.
 
Rule 5: Don’t compare her life to your own.
Rachel, a call center agent, found herself feeling depressed after attending her boyfriend’s sister’s wedding. “I’m 29 and still trying to work out what I want to do for a living, so I suppose I should have expected that the sight of a gorgeous 25-year-old bride with an amazing career as a graphic designer and an equally successful, supportive husband would make me panic. I love Michael, but it suddenly hit me that we’re years from feeling as committed to each other, settled, or financially secure enough to take this step.”

Marriage rates may be down but it’s still seen as everyone’s ideal—so it’s hardly surprising that we find ourselves taking stock of our lives as we stand in the pews. “Attending a day that’s so important to someone else is bound to make you think about your priorities,” says Hayman. “And, if you go home determined to overhaul your career or lifestyle, this can be really positive. But, don’t make the mistake of judging yourself against someone else’s standards, or worse, think that getting married is an instant ticket to happiness.”

If you really want to be in the spotlight, throw yourself a huge party on your next birthday—you get all the attention and you get to keep the presents for yourself.

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