Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 116: Fields of Gold, Chapter 24

Being engaged is fun for approximately two weeks. You have people to tell. Everyone wants to see the ring. Which, by the way, if you happen to be wearing a thin gold band and not a diamond, people kind of raise their eyebrows at you and smile cautiously. They're trying to figure out if you're:
  • Making a political statement about the unethical nature of diamonds.
  • Poor and practical.
  • Marrying a cheapskate and hating it.

The exception to that being people of a certain generation who were just happy to see frugality and restraint being practiced by anyone in my generation.

You should know that I adore weddings. Adore. I'm the kind of person who buys wedding magazines for fun, and loves to browse the latest trends on The Knot. I started planning my wedding when I was 9 years old, which--being 1989--I envisioned my colors being mauve and dusty blue and a sequin bedecked dress with ginormous puffed sleeves. I just knew that planning a wedding with the man of my dreams was going to result in the most beautiful, perfect wedding ever.

I decided to do everything differently than I'd done it for my first engagement. No periwinkle for me. No Salt Lake Temple. No wedding luncheon at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Nope. Everyone was doing periwinkle or lavender, so I chose a Martha Stewart Weddings trend of apricot orange and pear green. We chose the Manti Temple to get married in, since we had shared memories there and we both loved it. Our wedding luncheon would be the night before our wedding, rather than the day of, and the reception would be outdoors. It was going to be the perfect blend of casual and classy, trendy and traditional.

But something else was different than planning my first engagement. Not just that the photographer I'd always dreamed of hiring had moved to Dallas, or that I was having a hard time choosing centerpieces. The thing that had changed, was me. I no longer cared as much about bridesmaid outfits or the perfect bouquet. What I did care about was planning our marriage, even more than our wedding. I went to our university bookstore, marched upstairs, and bought a whole armful of books that were required for a marriage course. I got the his and hers workbooks to go with Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, as well as brand new copies of First Comes Love, His Needs, Her Needs, and Love for a Lifetime.

Well armed, without really giving him a choice, I began to throw these books at Dave and tell him that we needed to get studying like our lives depended on it. Because they did. And, really, this is a great litmus test for an engagement--any man worth his salt will care enough about his fiance, if not about actually studying the books, to get his hands dirty and jump in. These books are not for the weak--they require revealing weaknesses, discussing expectations, and brutal honesty. We went through our workbooks separately and alone, working through the things that came up where we differed. This resulted in some painful dead-end conversations, as we called them, and there were things we skirted around (finances), but--as our engagement wore on, Dave and I were confirming that we looked at the world the same way. We not only got to know each other better, we got to wrestle with the every day-ness of marriage and began to establish the foundation for our marriage style. I am so grateful to say, now, that planning our marriage was more important to me than planning our wedding. I think I had my priorities in the right place.

Although, looking back, if I could've known that "apricot orange and pear green" were going to devolve into a very 1980's "peach and sage green" I might've spent just a little more time rethinking that decision.


Erin said...

hahaha! i laugh because you know i inadvertently ended up with the same peach and sage.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I always send my engaged girlfriends books like that. They think I'm some kind of killjoy nazi. They'll thank me someday.... :)

Jolley's said...

I looove hearing about your "peach and sage green" saga story from your wedding planning days...but I must say, I love hearing this side of your wedding story too, it's so you!