So many people ask me why would anyone hire a life coach when they just got engaged. That is the short window in life where everything is magical, full with hope and possibility. Everything looks bright and happy and fresh and new. Right??? But ask most people who have been through this season in life and they will tell you, it’s far more of an emotional roller coaster than anyone ever anticipates.
And while there are many reasons for this, one of the biggest is that being truly happy, over the moon excited, and totally in love is actually a sneaky vulnerable place to be emotionally. Because how people react to our happy news can be very telling about our relationships. Most of the time, we evaluate our relationships on how people show up for us in the hard times- who was there for you when you were down, who showed up at the funeral, who reached out when you got fired or got diagnosed or broke up or whatever. And I do think that people’s true colors really show in those times. But, it’s how people react to your good news that matters just as much or even more so. Because when someone does or says the wrong thing in the dark times- they kind of have the out- no one knows what to say when someone gets cancer or dies.
But, when someone isn’t able to be happy for you when you are happy… That just feels extra disappointing. It’s like- what the heck? Why can’t you just be happy for me? When the people you care can’t meet you in your joy, it can be really hard to process. For many engaged couples, this becomes a major source of sadness and disappointment.
But before you indulge that reflexive reaction of hurt and anger, let’s take a minute to break down why your friends or family might not share the joy of your engagement news. Because knowing the why will soften the blow, chill you out, and probably save you major damage to the relationships that matter the most to you.
1. They are protective of you. Our loved ones want the best for us so signs of hesitation or caution or doubt are usually just because they want to protect you. It can be that simple. Maybe they think you are too young, or your partner isn’t ready or a million other things. But when you read hesitation through the lens of protection, it can make more sense and feel more reasonable and loving.
2. They have less evidence than you do. Odds are, no one has the same intimate view of your relationship than you do. So naturally there a lag time in the trust and confidence in your relationship. Your feelings about your partner might be solid as a rock but your friends are still getting to know them. This is often the case in those whirlwind romances. I got married one year to the day of meeting my husband. So of course there were people very close to me who had total whiplash so it made sense their joy couldn’t match mine as they just didn’t have enough to go on just yet.
3. They are operating from your history. Have you been the type to fall hard and then get hurt? Have you had a history of dating people who don’t compliment you? Or do you only reach out to friends and family to talk about the problems in your relationship? You might be asking people to be overjoyed when what you have presented and shared with them doesn’t give them much confidence or assurance.
4. They are operating from their own history. Weddings bring up a lot of mixed emotions for a lot of people. Maybe your single friend isn’t excited because she is preoccupied with her own desire to find her person and this news is triggering her. Or maybe your mom is not over own divorce so your happy news brings up a lot of complex emotions for her. Maybe your little brother is fresh out of his sociology class and has determined marriage is a dying institution so his philosophy isn’t allowing him to be happy for you.
Whatever the reasons are, the most important thing is that you chose how to think about it. And inviting in possibilities outlined above allows you to not get trapped in the black and white thinking that leads to hurt, anger, and drama.You don’t need someone’s feelings to validate your own. You don’t need their happiness in order to keep your own. You get to keep it. So let people have their reactions for their reasons and don’t take it personally. Give it time and space and grace. Be gentle with yourself and others because joy is amazing, but also a tender thing.
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