|By Amy Alkon|
Manure and wife & doctors without borders
Q: My fiancee insists on having our wedding at “THE most magical place to get married,” this beautiful lake resort. Her family’s well-off, but having it there creates a financial hardship for my relatives and our friends, who are working crappy jobs in a terrible economy. Our guests mostly live in our hometown, and the lake is a four-hour drive each way, and there are no affordable places to stay. I’ve suggested that we have the wedding in this beautiful space on my uncle’s farm, just outside of town, but my fiancee, who’s typically unselfish, remains inflexible. She wants it to be “truly special” and says people who care about us will find a way to come.
—Concerned She’s So Unyielding
A: Brides-to-be can easily lose touch with reality. They start by pricing the VFW hall, and before long it’s “Oh, is the International Space Station booked? Okay then, we’ll rent the Grand Canyon for a white-water rafting wedding. Not to worry, Grandma — you can use your oxygen tank as a flotation device!”
Destination weddings are great if you can send the private jet to pick up Grandpa Lou, Great-Auntie Myrtle, and all your Ph.D.-equipped barista friends and then put them up in a vast estate you rented for the wedding-ganza weekend. But, in a tough economy, maybe your special day doesn’t have to be other people’s special day to go bankrupt: “Please join us after the ceremony for dinner and dancing, followed by credit counseling.”
Because boys don’t grow up having misty daydreams about someday being a groom, it can be hard for a man to understand how an otherwise sweet and reasonable woman can go all weddingzilla: “My dress must have a 50-foot train, trimmed with the skins of puppies!” The question is, is this just a case of bride fever — temporary blindness to all forms of sense and reason related to wedding planning — or is it that her true colors are graduating shades of bossy selfishness (one part Kim Kardashian and two parts Kim Jong Il)?
When two “become as one,” decisions need to be a product of “we” and not “she” (as in, she decides and then tugs the leash for you to come along). A stumbling block to compromise is self-justification — the ego-protecting tendency to stubbornly defend ourselves, insisting we’re right and shoving away any information that suggests otherwise. (To err is human — as is doing everything in our power to avoid admitting we’ve erred.)
Preventing this takes putting marriage before ego — and making a pact to resolve conflicts by really listening to each other, putting yourselves in each other’s shoes, and working out solutions that work for you as a couple. Ask her to explain why this location is so special to her. Let her know that you truly appreciate her efforts, but that what’s special for you is having everybody there (and without feeling guilty about what it cost them to come). Offer to help her find someplace closer; maybe suggest having a pre-wedding photo shoot at Lake Perfectweddingspot. Since there’s no wiggle room for friends and relatives who are broke, let’s hope she’ll come to understand that your guests won’t cry fewer tears of joy if you’re saying your vows in your uncle’s pasture. As for what’s “truly special,” anybody can have a fancy hotel wedding; how many women get the opportunity to have bridesgoats?
Q: My normally very sweet boyfriend told me that the doctor who gave him his physical was hot and flirted like she was into him. I told him he could’ve kept all that to himself. He said that she just is hot and that if she were ugly, he would’ve told me that instead. Clearly, he was checking her out, and I think it’s disrespectful to tell me about it.
A: A person might “get points for honesty,” but if he’s somebody’s boyfriend, he’ll get lots more points if his honesty involves statements like “The lady doctor who just palpated my groin was a ringer for Lou Ferrigno.” Most people get that merely having a thought isn’t reason to release it and let it bound around like a puppy. That’s a good thing, because contrary to what women want to believe, pretty much all men are checking out all women at all times. That said, if your boyfriend is a sweet guy, chances are his message wasn’t so much “She’s hot” as it was “I’m hot. Hot women want me.” The implication being “Better hang on to me!” Let him know that hanging on to you takes respecting what you don’t want to hear. As for the doctor’s intentions, considering the prospect of license revocation and men’s tendency to mistake friendliness for interest, it’s possible she saw something in him — and probable it was something like two benign polyps.