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Laura Hunt

Relationship Guide
November 2002: Brides—Are you forgetting about your fiancé?

by Claire Hatch

Claire Hatch, MSW is a Licensed Social Worker and Certified Mediator who specializes in counseling couples. At The Bride’s Oasis in Kirkland, Washington, she helps engaged and newlywed couples learn to make love last and enjoy this special time. She is also responsible for the reflections part of our Calendar.

Claire will be happy to answer your relationship questions in this column. Please send them to or call her at 425.823.2273.

"It sounds crazy," said Karen, "but sometimes it feels we don’t have time for a relationship now that we’re planning the wedding. It’s been weeks since we went hiking and we used to do that every weekend. It feels like we’re drifting apart and that scares me. Making a forever commitment is nerve-wracking enough already. It’s true what they say: the wedding takes on a life of its own."

Karen is not alone. Many brides find themselves obsessed with their wedding, at the expense of their relationship.

How could such a thing happen? Well, stepping into the wedding world is like going through the looking glass. Things look really different here than they do on the other side.

Priorities look different. Once in the bridal zone, lots of women spend more time talking to their caterer than to their fiancĂ©. And when they do talk, it’s all about the wedding.

Another thing that looks different is time. The wedding day looms ahead, seemingly endless, and the days following it don’t seem quite real. It’s easy to forget that while you’re planning your wedding, you’re also laying the foundation for your marriage. Brides that forget this are asking for trouble. Take a tip from some who have been there:

"My wedding felt unreal, because I didn’t feel connected to my fiancĂ©."

"I spent the first half of my honeymoon too exhausted to do anything. I really regretted wearing myself out like that for one day."

"Two years later, we’re still ironing out problems that started during our engagement. I just wasn’t paying attention to what was really important."

Here’s how to keep your perspective right up to your wedding day.

1) Plan your marriage, not just your wedding. The wedding is really about the two of you becoming "We." What does this mean? It means creating a family, a world, a way of life that did not exist before. It means sharing all of one’s self and all of one’s truth with another person. It means designing a way of life that nurtures your relationship AND your development as individuals.

You need to carve out time to talk about your hopes, fears, expectations, and dreams. Don’t leave it until you have extra time—that time will never come. Commit to regular dates to just talk about your future together. Some ways to make it easier: Watch a movie such as Work through the exercises in a book, such as or schedule a few sessions of pre-marital counseling.

2) Be a tourist in your fiancĂ©’s world. Put down your to-do list, ask him how he’s doing, and REALLY listen. Let’s face it, the man’s perspective can get lost in the feminine flurry of a wedding. And lots of them are too overwhelmed to say, Wait, stop, this isn’t what I had in mind! The resentments surface later, when they’re much harder to deal with. Would you believe that some men even delay proposing because they’re afraid of the wedding planning? It’s true. Ask your fiancĂ© to take you on a tour of his inner world. He’ll really appreciate it and you’ll both feel happier and more grounded. And you might even nip a misunderstanding in the bud.

3) Get serious about having fun. Plan some activities that both of you find really absorbing, so that you can’t think about wedding business at the same time. Games such as tennis are good choices because they require your full attention. When you’re finished, you will feel like you’ve had a mini-vacation. Another great idea is to see a funny movie or play. Humor may be the best way of all to put things in perspective, because it focuses your mind completely on the present, making worry impossible.

Be sure to give your fiancé the attention he deserves and you will be a much happier bride—now, on your wedding day, and for years to come.

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