What the Wedding Planner Can't Teach You - Survival Skills for Wedded Bliss - Advice on Overcoming Moral, Financial and Lifestyle Issues that Couples Face

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Social class expert offers advice on marrying within, above, or below your social class.

The flowers have been ordered, the brides maid's dress colors picked and you and your fiancé are on the fast track to a joyous wedding day. But, are you on track with your relationship? After, “and they lived happily ever after,” what happens next?

The fact is that couples spend twice as much time discussing wedding plans than they do considering the impact their upbringing, background, and individual expectations will have on their relationship? Ands if you start out coming from different social, religious or ethnic backgrounds, the chances for a problem marriage increases, unless you work out the details before you walk down that aisle.

According to Dr. Ruby Payne, couples who come from different class backgrounds have different expectations, priorities, and goals, and cultural or class differences can cause serious unexpected conflict in regard to subjects such as finance management, family commitment, and raising children. Payne, a Ph.D. who works with psychologists, educators, lawyers and judges on the hidden rules of class, the key is communication and an open mind. Her new book, Crossing the Tracks for Love, highlights everyday examples and exercises that aid couples in identifying and resolving potential issues of conflict based on class upbringing so they can learn how to better understand what motivates their partner’s behavior.

The first step according to Payne is for couples to talk as much about their nitty-gritty expectations of marriage as they do about their wedding reception menu. Conflicts can be surprisingly simple according to Payne, one example she offers: a newlywed bride, who comes from an upper middle class background, opens a cell phone plan and picks a top of the line model valued at $300. After a couple of weeks, she accidentally loses it and wants to replace it for the exact same phone, which will cost another $300. Her new husband, who grew up in a modest home with few luxuries, believes that she doesn’t need that expensive phone and can’t understand why she can’t just pick the standard $49 model. In some instances a major fight could ensue from this seemingly mundane situation, but if the couple work together to understand the dimensions of each other’s class background they will be able to better navigate the sometimes bumpy road of wedded bliss, and be better able to deal with other issues in their lifetime together.

Though some relationship experts would have you believe “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus,” in actuality, conflicts in relationship are caused less by genders differences and more by class structure. Payne’s Crossing the Tracks for Love evaluates how common occurrences may or may not affect a person based on what type of class mindset they come from – Poverty, Middle Class or Wealthy, thus determining the often hidden boundaries and rules we live by. Once these hidden rules are identified and recognized, couples can than learn how to communicate, compromise, coexist, and thrive in their relationships.

Crossing the Tracks for Love: What to Do When You and Your Partner Grew Up in Different Worlds by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.; Published by Aha! Process Inc., April 2005; ISBN: 1-929229-33-X

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Meg McAllister
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