Horror Stories

I’m not sure why but, whether you’re pregnant to nearly bursting, getting married, or just heading to the dentist – I can guarantee that someone will have a horror story to tell you, as some kind of cautionary tale!

Of course, people want to share their experiences with each other. I’m all for that – it’s the other method we use to learn the right way to do things. [The first way being, by stuffing it up ourselves, of course!] Yes, a lot of similar things happen at weddings, and sometimes fore-warned is fore-armed. But all too often, we end up projecting our fears and challenges onto others as the story telling tips over into an almost gleeful fear-mongering session.

I hear it all the time – well-meaning matrons of honour, or Mother-In-Laws saying “It’s going to be such a lot of drama, and you’re going to have to do all kinds of things that you don’t want to do.” And you know what? Maybe it will be hard, and high drama. But it’s not guaranteed to be.

What’s kind of funny is that sometimes a savvy bride will choose to side step the drama [“Actually, we’ve decided to let the bridesmaids choose  their own gowns to wear, so I’m not worried at all”].  And the rest of the people seem shocked and upset – not by the choices the bride is making, but by the fact that she’s choosing not to get all upset. It’s as if there’s some unwritten rule that you HAVE to stress out, it HAS to be a big deal.

I wonder whether that’s about protecting our own image – [if I found it hard and you’re not finding it hard, that makes me feel inadequate] or whether it feels like a lost opportunity to bond over the hardship, or even our chance to ride in on a white horse and save the day? Whatever the reason, it’s only rarely a good idea to  people your horror stories while they’re on their way to the situation –  be it childbirth, nuptials or dentistry.

I’m not saying don’t tell those stories, I’m just saying, pick  your audience, and pick your time. I’ve spent more than ten years trying to get people to stop freaking out about their weddings. Save your energy for the things that actually happen. Recognize the challenges and meet them head on, but with humour and grace, creativity, and minimal drama. And that goes for everything that comes AFTER your wedding day, too. I often joke to couples that their wedding kiss is the last romance they’ll see, so they’d better enjoy it, but you’d be surprised how many times couples have been given that message in all seriousness. People whisper poison to newlyweds about cheating and boredom and married sex.

I agree, these things can happen if you get complacent about married life, and stop paying attention to your relationship. But if you move through your life with a lot of intent and questioning your own assumptions about why you’re supposed to do anything … it just doesn’t have to be that way. Not in your marriage, your career, your family, education, whatever.

People will always be warning you about what could go wrong.  And you know what? Sometimes it IS hard. Sometimes the wedding plans fall apart and relationships end. Sometimes labour takes longer than a day, and the root canal really hurts, and it feels like our life is falling apart. But rather than tell the horror stories, why not share the lessons? Learn as much as you can and share what you learned, rather than frightening people with what could go wrong.

So, will you join me, and agree that  once we’ve gone through one of life’s big, difficult experiences (whether it be marriage, pregnancy, dental work, or lifestyle earthquakes of all sorts) we’ll turn to those around us and tell the stories of what we learned and how we grew, until one day, it becomes the norm to offer each other encouragement and strategies for success rather than fear of failure!


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