My dear friend, Valeska Wise, is getting married this weekend to a wonderful man that she met through Sierra Club Singles. I am excited about the wedding, which she and her fiancé planned and financed themselves. It will be intimate and beautiful, filled with family and friends and sans the usual wedding hyperbole. In hopes that other couples will take a similarly sensible approach, I offer a pre-wedding primer to clip and include in the next RSVP card you complete.
Plan a life, not a wedding: The wedding is one day in your life. If you think that it is the most important day of your life, you’re setting yourself up for a lousy marriage. Don’t go into debt just to validate your Disney-inspired childhood dream of being a princess or prince for a few hours. Have a simple, affordable wedding. Save your money over the years and splurge on a fabulous 25th wedding anniversary instead.
If the “three A’s” arrive, postpone the wedding: The invitations are out, the dress has been purchased, and the country club has a nonrefundable deposit for your reception. You’re practically swooning with delight. Then the love of your life confesses that he’s addicted to smack or that she’s had a string of affairs while supposedly committed to you. Or, you finally admit to yourself that the one you love is abusive (emotionally, financially, sexually or physically). Call off the wedding. Immediately. The short-term social discomfort or financial loss is better than years of a roller-coaster marriage.
Real friends don’t hire strippers: Bachelor and bachelorette parties are rites of passage that recognize the end of single life and celebrate an individual’s new identity as a spouse. But that doesn’t mean a bachelor or bachelorette party is “the last chance to get laid before the wedding.” No, that chance passed when your soon-to-be-married friend agreed to an exclusive dating relationship with his or her spouse-to-be. Pressuring a friend to cheat on his or her future spouse is not only tacky; it’s a latent form of voyeurism.
Ask the tough questions before you set the date: Many engaged couples avoid asking each other important questions because they fear upsetting or losing their loved one. That’s a good sign that their communication and the selves they present to each other are not genuine. So, ask: Do we both want children? Separate or shared checking accounts? What are our values? What should happen if one of us is attracted to someone else? Where do we spend holidays? Is our sexual connection satisfying? Whatever the question, ask!
Post-bridal depression exists: Marriage symbolizes the birth of your union with another person. Inherent within that birth is your death as a single person. If you have not consciously mourned this change, your tendency toward a single mindset will inspire marital chaos. So, shed your old self before the wedding and begin to make choices and decisions with another person’s needs in mind.
Happily ever after is ordinary: We are imprinted by fairy tales but rarely decipher their meaning. Here it is: Infatuation ensures a romantic high but is transitory by nature. After infatuation is over, life is “happily ever after,” a.k.a. ordinary. That’s the part of the story that is eternal. So, stop trying to revive infatuation. Be content with life as it is.