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How Do You Talk About Weddings Without Scaring Off a Guy?

June 8, 2006 By:
Adina Matusow, JE Feature
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Three weddings, two engagements and one bridal shower in two weeks will get the attention of any woman without a ring on her finger. However, there is a huge difference between thinking about your wedding and wanting to get married. It would serve certain boyfriends - and men in general - well to understand this not so subtle difference.

It's typical for a woman to attend a wedding and take mental notes about what she would want when she gets married. It's normal for her to know exactly what she wants even if she usually hates making decisions and pays little attention to detail.

Whether it's on the beach with 300 of her closest friends, including a grand entrance in a white horse and buggy, or a small ceremony with just close friends and family on a windswept hilltop overlooking Jerusalem, she knows what she wants.

Even when she is in no rush to get under the chupah and especially in no rush to accept all the responsibilities that come with marriage, every woman has strong ideas about her wedding. Whether we think we have met "the one" or not, we still have the wedding planned in our head.

Why do women generally see weddings as a positive and inevitable event, but a man (especially in his 30s or younger) sees it as a negative, even when he knows he wants to get married eventually? The 1986 Newsweek cover article, "The Marriage Crunch," stated that a woman who didn't marry in her 20s had minuscule chances of ever marrying.

That sure didn't help women's self-image too much. The article got worse, stating that a 40-year-old, single woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry. Even though last week's Newsweek retracted the statement, the damage has been done.

According to the 1996 census, a single woman at 40 had a 40.8 percent chance of eventually marrying, and with Internet dating becoming increasingly more popular, the odds are presumably even higher today. However, instead of the earlier article making women appear more independent and career-focused, it made them look desperate and in a rush.

Maybe we, too, want to wait awhile and become financially secure and move ahead on the career track. But, in the meantime, why not think about the wedding in a positive light?

Whenever I mention the word "wedding" to a single guy friend or my boyfriend, I swear he hears "marriage, commitment, monogamy, no more dating and, of course, till death do us part." He thinks: "If my girlfriend is thinking about weddings, then she has to be thinking about our wedding."

Basically, he's not ready to commit to no more dating. But just because we women have weddings on our mind does not mean we assume it will be with the current boyfriend. It certainly doesn't mean we're ready for any words of commitment either.

Instead, if we're happy in our current relationships, we understand that marrying the current boyfriend is a possibility and therefore it's natural for us to make him the temporary groom in our heads. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with him, in reality.

That's what guys never seem to comprehend. Boys, it's not about you. It never is - the Bar Mitzvah is a party thrown by the parents and the wedding is a party for the bride. I'm not saying the groom's opinions don't count, only that the bride's opinions count lots more because most likely she's been imagining parts of her wedding since she was young.

So let's say you were invited to a wedding with a "plus one"; so you ask the guy you've been dating for the last couple of months. The reason you're dating is because you could potentially see a future with him, but as far as today goes, you just love spending time with him.

Why not bring him to the wedding? Why does asking him to be your date potentially mean he should enter panic mode? It's just a wedding - you aren't proposing. Are you guys worried that going to a wedding with a girlfriend will put more ideas in her head?

Eventually, I do want it all, the perfect inexpensive wedding (I know that's an oxymoron), the perfect marriage and the white picket fence. Right now, however, I'm not ready for that either. For now, I'm comfortable with my life and don't want to rush into anything with anyone.

So how are we supposed to talk about our future weddings without freaking out or scaring off a guy? How are we supposed to reassure the guy that right now we're not on the marriage track any more than he is?

In the end, it doesn't matter why we care about this stuff. We just do, and our men somehow need to accept this without panicking - especially since it's the wedding season and invitations are arriving daily.

 

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