So, you’ve dated this girl and decided that you cannot live without her. Your money has been saved. You’ve researched the diamond market, and can easily converse about cut, clarity and color with the best of them. You planned a special evening for the two of you, got down on one knee and even managed to be romantically eloquent. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
Be warned! At some point between the moment she said “yes” to the moment you both say “I do,” you will probably tear out your hair and wonder why your bride-to-be gets a little nutty. While she starts morphing before your very eyes, here is some helpful advice every engaged man needs to consider.
Be sensitive and grow a tough skin.
Try to be sensitive to what your fiancée is going through—trust me when I say she has a lot to think about. Every decision is monumental and affects every other aspect of the wedding. Do you invite the friend you haven’t seen in 10 years? What color of frosting do you use—vanilla, white, eggshell, or off-white? Do you decorate with bunting? What is bunting?
There is truth in the adage, “If you can make it through your wedding, you can make it through anything.” You need to be supportive and sensitive while she is coordinating this complex event. Learn to anticipate her needs and discover ways to relieve her stress. Remember that you are not the enemy.
Learn to communicate.
Hopefully you did this before you were engaged to be married. If not, learn to communicate! Communication is a two-way street—it involves being assertive and listening actively. This means telling her that you need to talk and then honestly articulating your feelings about a given subject. Express yourself without fear of rejection and without the guilt of being selfish for having an opinion. Most importantly, learn to listen (preferably, all the way through, before you offer a response).
When it comes to wedding planning—don’t be too helpful.
It’s not that men want control, but simply equality. As thoughtful males, many of us want to be involved in our woman’s sphere of decisions and problems. But, when you try to be helpful, and get pushed back, it’s easy to think, “Fine! I really am better off without all this lace and flower nonsense anyway!” Unfortunately, you’ve just created another problem for her, and she really doesn’t have time for it.
If you want to be helpful, don’t be too helpful.
Learn to say “yes” and sound like you mean it.
Don’t be insincere. Speak up if you have a genuine concern. But put aside dogmatic opinions. If this sounds easy, it’s because it is. Simply say “yes” and be done with it.
Pray with her.
The engagement period is a time of drawing closer together until the culmination of the wedding day when you become “one.” This is not just a physical act, but a union of your entire person. Prayer can also be therapeutic for your frantic bride.
Play on the same team.
There were times in my own engagement period when my fiancée and I were on opposite sides of the tennis court, and every time we had to make a decision, we lobbed arguments at each other, firing off 100 mph serves, trying to beat the other person. As we learned to communicate, and I made my bride a higher priority than winning an argument, our relationship was relieved of a lot of stress. In the process of becoming one, we moved to the same side of the court and began facing decisions as a team.
Enjoy the process with humor.
This is the only way you will survive. And, as the groom, you have to accept in good humor that the wedding is not about you. Weddings—which includes fashion, catering, event planning, photographs, etc.—are all focused on the bride. The bride is beautiful and graceful and charming, while the stereotypical groom is a good-looking oaf with the intelligence of a bag of rocks. All you need to do is smile, enjoy the process, and don’t let the activities grind you down.
Say the word “elope.”
Go ahead, say it—you’ll feel so much better. No, of course you’re not going to elope, but your wedding plans wouldn’t be complete without suggesting it at least once.