When my best friend Phil asked his lady Bridget to marry him and she said yes, he was absolutely beaming with excitement. Come four months later though, his ear-to-ear grin had been replaced by a stiff, resolute scowl.
What had happened? His sassy, quirky fiancé had been transformed into the dreaded, stereotypical bridezilla. Worse, he was bearing much of the brunt of her unrestrained crazy; if he tried to help with the planning process, he was “in the way” but if he did nothing then she deemed him “unappreciative and indifferent towards their marriage.”
When the day of their wedding actually arrived, he was just as happy that there would be an end to the emotional, frantic insanity as he was to actually be marrying the woman. So, when I asked my fiancé, Amanda, to marry me two years later, I was determined to learn from his mistakes.
1. Volunteer to Assist
The first thing I did right was to determine what were other tasks with which I could assist without impinging upon her grand vision. Great examples of this are shopping around for travel deals for out-of-town guests, as well as researching honeymoon destinations (though, obviously, don’t make any major decisions without weighing her opinion first).
Additionally, I found ways to show my gratitude for all her hard work; while she and her sister were browsing for wedding favors online, I spontaneously ordered them sushi as a treat.
2. Don’t minimize her feelings or be condescending
When Amanda deliberated for what felt like ages about whether or not too much red in the color scheme would be off-putting, I was tempted to say “who the hell cares.” But, I didn’t. A key to maintaining the peace in our relationship was to understand that I didn’t understand; every little girl grows up with the pressure to have a perfect wedding, which is a burden I cannot grasp or relate to as a man.
So, while I might think that telling her “it’s not that big of a deal” would help to placate her stress, it is actually insulting. Instead, I offered silent support and empathy.
3. Keep romance alive and make her feel beautiful
As I mentioned before, many brides-to-be feel saddled by unrealistic expectations and can be anxious that they won’t live up to them. As my sister secretly instructed me to do, I subtly made sure that Amanda knew that she was perfect to me, even if she didn’t lose ten pounds or have a ridiculous train trailing behind her as she walked down the aisle. I hid flirty and suggestive notes in her underwear drawer and wallet, and gave her frequent foot massages. I would insist that we have “us” time in which we would hike, picnic and fool around without checking our cell phones once. I truly believe that, by making her feel desirable, her need to be “good enough” was honestly diminished. It was my way of subtly reminding her that the focal point of the wedding was our love and not the perfectly executed coordination of hundreds of details.
4. Keep sane yourself and set emotional boundaries if necessary
If your fiancé temporarily wanders off into the deep end, no need to follow right behind. When Amanda and my future-mother-in-law started bickering about whether or not it was tacky to have a buffet instead of a sit down affair, I didn’t take Amanda’s side and, instead, left the house to go to the gym for an hour. Not only did it allow me to avoid being sucked into the drama, but also I evaded heatedly saying something injurious to her mother.
Ultimately, no one benefits by you losing your rational footing or making financial decisions based off of emotion, so insist on having your “you” time. Furthermore, utilize your best man (or, in my case, my sister). While you don’t want to gossip about your future wife to large groups of mutual friends, find a buddy with tightly sealed lips and an understanding ear that you can vent to so your resentments don’t remain bottled inside where they can escalate.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.