"I donâ€™t know how I can get through to Dave that I need more help," said Carla, who will be married in August.
"He doesnâ€™t begin to understand what it takes to make a wedding happen. Either
that, or he doesnâ€™t think itâ€™s a manâ€™s job. What can I do? I want this to be
OUR wedding, not my wedding."
Chances are you know exactly how Carla feels. Your fiancĂ© is probably not on the web finding the date of the next wedding show, in Barnes and Noble browsing wedding books, or on the phone to reception locations.
At first, you may feel like a kid in a candy store and enjoy having a free rein. But after a few months, reality sets in and you think, This is really a big load for one person. You find yourself feeling resentful. And even a little lonely.
"This sounds so weird," said Terri, a June bride, "but it seems like the
closer we get to our wedding day, the less we have in common. Neither of us is
feeling terribly romantic. Sometimes, I wonder how much he caresâ€”not just
about the wedding, but about me and getting married."
This is the point where brides start to lobby for more participation from their fiancĂ©s. And the wedding magazines, websites, and chat rooms they turn to have plenty of advice about this problem:
- Tell him how much you need him.
- Appeal to his sense of fairnessâ€”you shouldnâ€™t have to do it all.
- Give him limited choices. Rather than overwhelm him by having him look at every photographer you are, ask him which two or three he likes.
- Delegate tasks that you donâ€™t care about and perhaps he does, such as transportation or music.
These are all helpful ideasâ€”Iâ€™ve even used some of them myself! But making it
"our wedding" takes more than sharing the work. It takes sharing the decision making. This is much more difficult than delegating tasks. After all, youâ€™re bound to disagree about some part of the planning.
Some couples who truly plan their weddings together find they have vastly different ideas. What if you want the Four Seasons and he wants the beach? What if you want 200 guests and he wants only immediate family? You want your fiancĂ© to participate, but if he disagrees about something youâ€™ve got your heart set on, that might not be the kind of participation you imagined!
It can be tough to compromise when youâ€™ve got a certain vision in your mind. When I was planning my wedding, my mother and I decided that a visit to the florist would make a perfect girlsâ€™ afternoon out. Then at the last minute, my fiancĂ© decided to join us.
I was surprised that he wanted to come, but I was even more surprised when he had his own opinions about the flowers! Unfortunately, they were the exact opposite of mine. (His vision: Orange and yellow, full and bushy. My vision: Pastels, minimalistic and dramatic.) I have to confess that I initially greeted his opinions as touching, but not to be taken seriously. In this case, he was the one who had to remind me: Itâ€™s OUR wedding. In the end, I got my colors, and he got his bushy bouquets.
Now that Iâ€™m a pre-marital counselor, I hear about the groomâ€™s reality every day. A lot of times, theyâ€™re not so much clueless as resigned. A lot of men keep to the periphery of wedding planning because they donâ€™t expect their opinions to be taken seriously.
"I figure, the more I stay out of the way, the less trouble Iâ€™ll get in," said Carl.
"Iâ€™m just going to sit tight and wait till itâ€™s over."
Iâ€™m guessing this not the way you want your fiancĂ© to feel. If you really
want your wedding to be a partnership, the ideal time to start is at the
beginning. Sit down together and talk about what you would like your wedding
to be like. Ask your fiancĂ© how he sees it and really listen. Draw him out.
Try to understand his perspective, even if it differs from yours. He might
have some ideas you never thought of. Consider how this might enrich your
wedding. Find out what he really doesnâ€™t want.
For areas in which you disagree, ask yourself, What is the core of what
each of you wants? For example, if you want your wedding outdoors and your
fiancĂ© doesnâ€™t, what is it about being outdoors that you want? Is it the drama
of a mountain backdrop? Or the simplicity of it? Is there some way you can get
that feeling without being completely outdoors? Try to brainstorm as many
ideas as possible before you decide.
While youâ€™re at it, talk about the realities of wedding planning. Discuss
the fact that men and women often have different approaches. Is this true of
the two of you? How do you each feel about that? How much work are each of you
willing to do? Do you want to go all out, or do you want to keep more life
balance? (Remember that whatever you start with, weddings tend to grow in size
If you really want your fiancĂ© to be involved in your wedding, get ready to
compromise. And when you think about it, now is the perfect time to learn how.
Because thatâ€™s what marriage is all about.
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