Monday, August 30, 2010

Putting the Men in Engagement

From Carl the Open-minded Chauvinist

So I was wondering how I could best contribute to the August theme of “masculinity” but was rather busy doing some other things, namely getting engaged. Yay!

Anyway, I was just busy getting things organized (we’re getting married in three short months) and just didn’t think I was going to have time to post something. But then something happened.

I wasn’t having ANY fun. In fact, I was having a distinctly bad time. Why? Well, you see, I had bought into the traditional idea that the wedding is HER day and that I, the guy, should simply pop the question then shut up and let her do her thing.

As a friend of mine once said, weddings are for the bride, and honeymoons are for the groom.

So as I watched my fiancé suddenly tackle all of the plans, occasionally asking my opinion but not really involving me in any of the planning, and as I watched her stress levels rise and rise and rise, and as I watched me suddenly turning into nothing but the guy who will run his hands along her back while she surfs the internet to look for invitations, or venues, or whatever, I was suddenly thinking, “Well, this is a new side to Susan I’ve never seen before.” And those 36 hours weren't that fun. I had visions of her being this stressed over the next 3 months, and I wasn’t that happy. So as she bounced around between several different windows on her computer, looking at venues for our reception, I finally asked if she would rather I run the computer and she do the talking and selecting. It would give me something to do, and maybe it would help her stress levels decrease.

So we switched spots, she leaned on my back, half cuddling with me, and I began taking a more active role in the wedding planning, ostensibly just by operating the computer. Within twenty minutes, her stress levels had decreased a lot, and I was assigned the tasks of finding a venue and an apartment for us to live in, and I was becoming heavily involved in the other wedding planning tasks.

And you know what? Sorry. This is 2010. Men, suck it up and help with the wedding planning. Once again I had bought into the culturally ingrained stereotypes, this time that men shouldn’t be involved very much in the wedding planning, and I found that stereotype to be actually damaging. So I kicked it in the teeth and moved on.

Susan has been nothing but happy and pleased I’ve taken a more active role. It’s more fun for me. And our wedding planner has been so gracious to the two of us, I think largely because we’re not Groomzilla and Bridezilla. I wonder if the other couples are more demanding than we are, and I wonder if Bridezillas are sometimes created in part by the lack of support from their male counterpart, and I wonder if that lack of support sometimes comes from buying into the myth that it’s the bride’s day so the guy should just shut up and let her do her planning thing.

But you know what? That day is going to be OUR day now, more than if I hadn’t decided to try and help. Now we’re both planning it. And it’s going to be a great day to start our life together—because we planned it together.

For more open-minded but chauvinistic writings, please visit Carl the OMC's blog, I Feel Like Schrodinger's Cat.


  1. I'm disgusted by what your friend said about men, women, weddings and honeymoons. But anyway, when my husband and I were planning our wedding (which was about 4 months ago), we very quickly realized that he cared a LOT more about most of the stuff than I did. Colors, decorations, flowers--I would have been fine with just about anything, but my husband had definite opinions about what he wanted. I was just excited about getting to marry him and getting to have my family there!

  2. Not that a wedding is anywhere in the near future for me, but I certainly have opinions. Part of that has come from an interest in wedding photography which means I have studied a lot of wedding aesthetic, and part has come from my training in event management, but also, I just know that it will be OUR day, not just one person's day, and I figure we should be involved. To be completely honest, I have some rather strong opinions about "my" wedding day, and I think I'll have to be the one compromising, not my some-day bride.

  3. "As a friend of mine once said, weddings are for the bride, and honeymoons are for the groom."

    Ew. Legit, that's disgusting.

  4. Thank you, Anonymous and Whitney, for pointing out how disgusting the friend's statement is. It really bothered me each time I read over that sentence while I was posting Carl's piece.

    We could do an entire monthly theme on everything that is wrong with that sentence. In lieu of that, here's why I think it's wrong and damaging to say such things:

    A. Not all women care about the details that surround weddings. I, for one, never thought one whit about wedding details when I was younger. Neither did my older sister, even though she's more traditional than I am. When she got married, her in-laws couldn't understand why she didn't have strong opinions and worried about her desire to keep the expenses down.

    B. The wedding isn't a grown up Prom. It's about more than pretty dresses and decorations. It's an actual ceremony that binds two people together. And the reception that follows is a celebration of that union. If you want to argue that the groom is likely too tired to care about the reception,that's fine. But it's just as likely the bride feels the same way. From what I hear, most people are exhausted during their reception, and a lot of people (especially in the Mormon community) are just anxious for it to be over.

    C. If you want to argue that the groom is anxious to get to the honeymoon because he wants to consummate things... well, if you don't think women value that stage of things too, you probably don't understand women. And I feel pretty bad for the wife of a man who so misunderstands women in that regard.

    D. I would say more, but my LDS sensibilities and New England puritanical prudishness make me hesitate about saying more on-line.

    E. Carl, which of your friends said that? Is it someone I know?

  5. With regard to C, there have been far too many myths about female sexuality that still exist today. That being said, it does appear that generally men have a higher libido than women, so this myth appears to at least have some truth at its core.

    D. We're all friends here. And I still don't do awkward.

    E. It is not someone you know. It was actually a sister missionary from my time in NYC, but for what it's worth she and the Elder she married have just finished what looks like (on facebook) a pretty nasty divorce.

    The way my fiance and I have worked this out so far with regard to the things that she's in charge of (I got the wedding reception venue, honeymoon, and finding a place to live) is that she'll give me a few options, and I make my preference known. Much like how we did the ring-I asked for her preferences, and then she and her sister spent a week creating a 5 page document with pictures and everything. Using that as a template, I picked what she called the "perfect ring." So this seems to be how we work-she narrows, I finalize the decision. In general.

  6. It sounds like you two have worked out a good system that works for the two of you.

    Here's something you need to know, though, about women's sex drives: birth control lowers it. I'm not speaking from experience, of course, but I've heard from a lot of married friends that their sex drives dropped when they went on the pill. So, there may be less nature behind that difference in libido than you think.

    Also, I think you should bear in mind that "men have a higher libido in general" may overlook *differences* in male/female sex drives. I essence, the type of measurement one uses may predetermine the different levels.

    All that being said, I have to concede that most married women say their husbands want to perform the act of marriage more frequently than they do. I still think that your friend's generalization exaggerates *way* too much.