When the happiest day of your life can turn into a conflict zone!

Have you talked with your partner as to what you want for the future?

by Rose Barrett
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When we think about the “happiest day of our lives” – generally considered to be our Wedding Day – we rarely think about conflict causing havoc in the run up to the event which can have long lasting and negative connotations. 

We tend to conjure up lovely images of a beautiful ceremony, the venue, bridesmaids, best men, page boys the vows, food, fun, dancing and laughter, surrounded by friends and family.

It’s all dreamy and romantic – however, the reality can often be a whole lot different!

How can the day you marry the love of your life be a flashpoint for conflict?

Mediation expert and Lecturer on conflict management, Sharon Morrissey (above) of Conflict Clarity, an accredited and professional private mediation practice says huge life events such as weddings can cause huge conflict as we have heighted emotions, expectations and pressures, all of which can lead to huge stress and blow outs.

She says “It is true to say that the events which are most precious to us and which we most look forward to can sadly cause huge pressure— we are quite tense and determined that everything will be ‘perfect’  and mix families, expectations, family rifts, petty resentments, settling ‘scores’ perhaps, stress around money, all together and it’s literally like a pressure cooker ..something has to blow”. 

She continued: “It’s such a shame as the majority of issues that cause so much strife and stress are really quite trivial, but they are allowed to blight such a joyful occasion and sadly it is these issues that people will look back on and remember”.  

Sharon is a firm believer in clarity.

“People are not mind readers and people feel safe around clear , direct people ..if you don’t want your Mother’s third and fourth cousins at your wedding,  say it loud and clear. It is your day and don’t be railroaded into having people at your wedding that you don’t want. If you go against yourself you will feel worse, huge internal conflict is a recipe for further conflict with everybody else.

“Conflict is not necessarily bad in itself but it is how we manage it that makes the difference. Dealing with it calmy and comprehensively takes a lot of the ‘heat ‘out of a potentially ‘flammable situation’ and everybody feels much better in the long run as they know where they stand, and the air has been cleared. Miscommunication is one of the biggest causes of conflict and this is so easily avoidable”.

Above images Mohammed Hassen from PIXABAY

Sharon has shared some expert advice for Gazette readers planning on getting married

1  Do you actually want to get married, build a house, and possibly have children together -or is it because you feel it’s the next thing to do on the “TO-DO” Checklist?

2.       Have you spoken clearly about your expectations of a future life together?

3.       Have you discussed the issues that solid marriages are built on for example, how will you arrange your finances, credit cards, etc? If one partner earns significantly more than the other partner, how will bills, wages and mortgage repayments be split?

4    Was marriage talked about in a focused way? What do you want your lives to look like? Do you want to have children? What happens if one (or both) are unable to? Are you going to consider IVF, Surrogacy, or Adoption (Domestic/Foreign), would you as a couple consider fostering?

5.       Where do you want to live? Are you going to build or buy a house? What size? What are your upper repayment capacities? What protections will we have in place if one or both loose  jobs- how will you afford it then?

6.       If you have children, what is the expectation around childcare, holidays, time off, and sick time for the children?

7.   What kind of engagement ring shall you get, have you set the budget? Will you go halves, will you go shopping together for the ring?

8.   Have you discussed the type of wedding you want, the max amount of guests, the seating plan? Where will “Uncle Johnny” sit as he usually falls down drunk at some stage?

9.   How will you manage your separated/divorced parents?

10.   Who will walk with you up the aisle, your estranged father or stepfather- should you walk yourself up? Will you walk up together- it’s your wedding!

Sharon says “These are among the most basic and fundamental questions that need to be asked, discussed and thought through before any wedding”.

“These questions if left unasked, and therefore unanswered, may allow a great day (of the wedding) but will not allow a great marriage. These questions are not romantic, but they are realistic. If the person you wish to spend the rest of your life with, truly is that person, allow for  open, honest, frank, and self-determining communications.”

“Otherwise you may be looking at a very short lived marriage. Don’t leave mediation for the division of assets and access to the children and/or pets.  Identify and understand your communication styles, and conflict management techniques by learning mediation skills, emotional intelligence, reflection, and self-awareness”.

“Relationship pre-mediation puts you as a couple in a space where you can self-determine a successful future, instead of one great day. It is an investment in your future and your happiest days ahead”.

Sharon can be contacted at

Sharon Morrissey  MA Conflict Resolution, PGCert Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Social Studies.

Corporation, Workplace, Interpersonal, and Family Mediator. Family Support, and Parenting Mentor, Counselling, Psychology, Trainer/Lecturer, Collaborative Practitioner, Soc. Science,  Facilitator, and Author.

Sharon Morrissey

MA Conflict Resolution, PGCert Mediation and Conflict Resolution, Social Studies can be contacted at 087 69 59 346.

Corporation, Workplace, Interpersonal, and Family Mediator. Family Support, and Parenting Mentor, Counselling, Psychology, Trainer/Lecturer, Collaborative Practitioner, Soc. Science,  Facilitator, and Author.

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