My fiance won’t help me with wedding planning: Learning from partnership imbalances

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offensively stupid cake topper

I love my fiance but GOD, he's such a fucking GUY.

My fiance won't help me with wedding planning at ALL. It seems like all the wedding planning stuff ALWAYS FALLS TO ME. He says things like “Oh but honey, you're so good at it.”

Why won't he help me!?


Jen, this is a perennial question, and it seems to be almost as much of an issue with offbeat grooms as for more, well, stereotypical ones.

I wish I could completely skip over the gender issue on this one, but I have to at least acknowledge it. I don't know what there is to say about the fact that some men don't enjoy planning weddings. Is it an embodiment culture-driven gender influences? Probably. Could your guy be lazy? Maybe. Is making gender generalizations about it self-reinforcing these very gender influences you're decrying? Most likely. Are there lesbian couples who deal with this same interest-in-wedding-planning imbalance who don't reduce it to a gender issue? Yes.

We could debate why it happens and what it means and who's to blame for a long time. But really, that's not accomplishing much — what can you actually DO about it? What can you actually LEARN from it?

Let's get big picture about the issue. What it comes down to is that the two of you are hitting against an imbalance in your relationship. I'm not going to conjecture what that imbalance actually IS for you. It could be an imbalance of communication skills. (You're so good at making those vendor calls! They always clam up.) It could be an imbalance of time management skills. (You take care of your to do items right away. They always leave stuff 'til the last minute, meaning you have to do what every wife supposedly is doomed to: NAG.) It could be an imbalance of interest (You really want your vows to be artfully written. They just want to say “I do” and kiss.)

While the devil's in the details, ultimately they don't really matter. The fact that it's a wedding you're planning is almost irrelevant. The reality is that, from five years down the marriage road, I can tell you this:


If you're hitting one for the first time while wedding planning, then I'm seriously impressed. The reality is that couples in long-term commitments will deal with constant bumps and land-mines as they navigate living a life together. You'll have imbalances of communication, time management, and interest. You'll have imbalances of skill, proclivity, and inclination.

One of you is going to REALLY care about the garden and one of you is going to care less and be embroiled in a video game. One of you is going to be obsessed with the stain on the carpet and one of you is going to shrug and go back to knitting. On a Saturday night, one of you is going to want to go out and see a play and the other one is going to want to inhale a novel and work on their bike.

Your skills and concerns are not always going to match.
Sometimes it'll be over the little stuff like gardens and video games. Sometimes it'll be over big stuff like when to put the dog to sleep or move across the country. Sometimes the little stuff will suddenly become the big stuff, and while you thought you were just imbalanced over who cleaned the kitchen, but you actually were imbalanced over whether you still wanted to be together at all.

But one thing is for certain: imbalances are guaranteed. What's key is that the imbalances actually balance out. I'm better at logisticating, so I take care of that stuff in my and Dre's life. Andreas is better at being emotionally grounded, so he takes care of keeping our home feeling sane. We have different skills, but we have roughly the same number of contributions to make to the relationship over-all, even if we're imbalanced on the specifics.

The key to dealing with these imbalances is appreciation. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes thinking about my strengths makes me want to think about my partner's weaknesses. I'm so good at logisticating — GAH, IN PART BECAUSE I HAVE TO BE BECAUSE HE SUCKS AT IT OH MY GOD REMEMBER THE TIME HE FORGOT HIS DRIVER'S LICENSE ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT!?!

Deep breath.

One thing is for certain: imbalances are guaranteed. What's key is that the imbalances actually balance out.

OK, so there are some skills that I've developed more than he has. Rather than think about the ways he sucks, I'm going to model my own strengths, and appreciate his. I'm going to say this ridiculous thing to him that we've been saying to each other for over a decade now:
I appreciate you.

Yes, we actually say it like that. It's the most literal, straight-forward relationship statement ever.

I appreciate you.

Every time I get frustrated with an imbalance — something that I'm way better than him at — I try to take the time to appreciate the spaces where I occupy the other end of the imbalance. Like feeding myself. If it weren't for Andreas, half my meals would involve scraping microwaved cheese off a plate with my finger. He might not be the one who hunkers down with Turbo Tax to untangle the riddle of family budgets when everyone's self employed. But he's the one who brings me cups of tea, folds the laundry, and always drives when I'm too frazzled to pay attention.

There will be imbalances, but hopefully through practicing gratitude and taking a step back from the specifics, you can find the larger balances in your relationship. Your partner may not like planning this wedding, but do they fill your other needs? Are they great at dissecting fantasy novels or comparing obscure plot points of cult films? Are they excited to move across the country with you so you can finish your Masters? Do they hold you when you cry over the latest drama with your family? Do they support your visions? Do they uphold your values? Do they have strengths that perfectly match YOUR weaknesses?

You can hope so.

Ultimately, the issue isn't whether they're helping you with the wedding. Change your perspective: are they helping you out with your LIFE? For many of us, an imbalance in wedding planning is the perfect storm of imbalanced skills — gender issues, communication issues, interest issues — but when you take it out to the bigger picture and practice gratitude, hopefully you can see the ultimate balance to your relationship. If you don't, then that's a much larger issue than wedding planning. If there's a large scale imbalance, then you need to stop looking at wedding blogs and start looking at your relationship.

But chances are, when you take the time to truly appreciate your partner's strengths, when you take the time to stop what you're doing, take them in as they're working whatever magic it is that they rock so hard, and say to them “I appreciate you,” chances are you're going to find the larger scale balance despite the immediate imbalances.

Oh and to bring it back to wedding planning: it should be FUN, at least some of the time. This is ultimately a party, and if planning a big party isn't fun at least SOME of the time for ONE of you, then you shouldn't do it. If both of you hate wedding planning, then scrap the plans and do a simple family-only ceremony or elope. The goal here is celebration — not drudgery. If your partner doesn't care, and you only care because you feel like you should — stop it!

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Comments on My fiance won’t help me with wedding planning: Learning from partnership imbalances

  1. So true and helpful… I have found myself doing the same things… when i get mad at him for making a mess or not getting things done I list the strengths he has and what I appreciate about him and it makes me not mad anymore. I tell him how much I appreciate him every day :). It's good to hear it from others 🙂

  2. Great post! I have definitely gotten caught up in the 'is he good for anything' thoughts when he doesn't care about catering or working out a household budget or folding laundry. It can be difficult to shift focus away from what you wish was being done, but he definitely has areas where he is good at things I am just terrible with (like making the final decision or talking to people). And if I pull on his strengths I find that he is usually able and willing to help (even if he may not totally love it).

  3. Very wise and valuable insight. I personally have no intuition regarding relationship mechanics. Not a clue. Seeing it broken down like this has lead to a minor epiphany on my part. I also like the universal application of learning to work and cooperate with any other person, not just a romantic interest.

  4. I think you've touched on two very big things:
    1.) BALANCE – Wedding planning, being the big behemoth cultural dramarama that it is, tends to magnify imbalance and relationship static. The question that you seriously need to evaluate is–have you been ignoring imbalance? I think relationship imbalance is something you need to tackle before the wedding, and not during a fit of "OMG YOU'RE NOT HELPING" rage. Then again, the balance could be that he has tried to participate and failed miserably–time for positive reinforcement!

    2.) INTEREST – Is he "letting" you do the work because he's not good at is, or is he "letting" you do the work because he's not interested in the outcome? If he seems to be shifty about wedding details and flippant, you need to find out why. I'm not suggesting that he might not want to get married, but instead that… well… maybe your wedding just doesn't have anything in it that's up his alley. I find myself coming up with all kinds of crazy ideas that sound AWESOME, but when I pitch it to my fiance, he just sort of tunes out, then encourages me to work on it. Then I realize–it sounded totally awesome to me, but in no way jives with his personality.

    • My partner and I (both women) were facing an inbalance of interest in wedding planning, until we really dug deep to find what she could really get excited about. She had been thinking of wedding planning as vendor calls, writing (invites and vows), timelines and budgets and seating charts – in other words, everything she hates and everything that comes somewhat naturally to me. Over the course of time (and after considerable frustation on both parts) we discovered that she hadn't realized we'd also need someone to work on alcohol, fire, music and weaponry (it's a pirate wedding) – all of which got her really excited. Now she spends every night searching online for rum drinks, torches, portable sound systems and jeweled daggers for cake cutting. I was starting to worry I was planning a wedding only I liked and/or cared about. Ends up we just had to identify what elements she could get into in order to bring our overall life balance into the micro-life that is our wedding.

    • In other words, Ariel and @dootsiebug really hit the nail on the head in our case 🙂

  5. This was a great post and exactly what I needed to hear at the moment. Thank you so much!

  6. I think this is nice and all, but really, a lot of dudes are free-loading on our work, and that's not cool, and we should call that out for what it is…

  7. My fiancee and I had a discussion about this same kind of imbalance in our wedding planning this past weekend. He too cited the "you're so good at it" line of logic. We're still in the earlier stages of the planning and I know for a fact that he is just as capable as I am of doing online research and making phone calls. I really pushed him to qualify why he thinks I'm better at wedding planning, instead of simply letting the idea of my being better stand as a fact, and found out that he thinks I have more and better ideas for how things can be done. This is true, but I pointed out that this was largely because I had made the time and commitment to thinking about how everything should work out and getting inspiration online and asking for advice from friends who are also planning weddings, not that I have some kind of inherent ability to plan weddings that he lacks. I don't know that my fiancee's going to be some kind of wedding planning rock star from now on, but I know he now realizes that "being good" at planning is something that he *can* attain by making the time and effort.

  8. I also realised that I liked making dresses, cakes and paper stuffs a lot before the wedding planning thing. Him – no so much.

  9. We make it a game to notice and say thank for your a task the other person has done, thank you for: taking out the trash, washing those dishes, cooking dinner, folding the laundry, for listening to me, for sharing that with me. It keeps you on the look out for ways to appreciate each other and notice what the other is doing rather than being stuck in resentment, "I'm doing so much, what has he/she done?"

    And sometimes, some guys just aren't into weddings. Yes, they want to be married to you but they wish they could skip right over the wedding into being married. It's a question of priorities. If having a big and complicated wedding is super important to you but your fiancee's idea of a wedding is a judge and celebratory dinner, you can't really force him to be excited about a big wedding and take on many tasks. Also maybe planning is not his speciality. Maybe your relationship strength is that you are a decider and he is a doer and he's happy with that. So maybe you need other people (friends, family) to help with the planning and then hand him off certain tasks.

    This is why I wash the sheets myself most of the time. Although my husband does the rest of the everyday laundry, his idea of clean sheets is washing them once a month or every two months. After trying to get him to care about my level of cleanliness in sheets (must be washed once a week or at the very least once every two weeks) and nag him to wash the sheets, I realized it wasn't fair to force him to think like me.

    • you're totally right about the "I can't force him to think like me". He is his own person with his own ideas about the world. He never tries to force ME to do anything I don't agree with. What am I a princess? lol. Exactly what I needed to hear, thank you.

  10. I also want to point out that your partner can help with wedding planning while not really helping with WEDDING PLANNING. In other words, I care way more about the decor and color scheme than my FH does and because I'm spending most of my free time on the wedding, he's made sure that I don't have other things to worry about. In other words, I haven't picked up an instrument of house cleaning in months.

    Yes, it's about balance and balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses but it's also about picking up the slack when the other partner is consumed/stressed/crazy and balancing out core tasks in your relationship. Just because you tend to do certain things better or you do the dishes and he cooks doesn't mean that if a big life event comes up, you can't switch roles sometimes. You need to be flexible in a relationship and sometimes that means doing something that your generally not as good at because your partner is freaking out about wedding planning or their thesis or whatever. And hopefully, they will do the same so it will balance out in that way as well.

    Which all goes back to Ariel's point that learning to cope with these things that come up in wedding planning is a really good learning step for how to handle different things in your relationship.

  11. Ariel, love the emphasis on appreciation; PRICELESS.

    My fiancee and I had this same issue but when we discussed it, he said that he didn't really know what to do. I was initially infuriated because I know I'd been ranting about all of the stuff we need to get done. After several deep breaths and further discussion, we both realized that he was just overwhelmed by my big picture planning/list making/worrying/obsessing. He needed a specific job that he understood and could be responsible for.
    That was one of our greatest moments. He picked a job off of my monster list (one I didn't really want to do anyway, awesome!) and he took it and ran with it and did a fabulous job. It was also REALLY good for me to see that I don't need to do everything or even be involved in everything; he does great work! Now we're an even better team than we were before because I do the big picture planning and lists and making sure we're attending to everything, and he carries out a lot of the specific jobs.
    Of course, not every couple will be blessed with complementary skills/preferences. However, at the risk of gender stereotyping, I have found that many of my guy friends/relatives prefer tangible jobs to successfully complete, to have control over, to make their own. My only warning if you take on the big picture/delegation role: don't micro manage! Despite the best of intentions, it can send messages like "I don't trust you" or "your ideas/abilities aren't important to me".
    To me, the "you're so good at it" response might also mean something like "you've proven that you're going to do it yourself anyway" and/or "you've shown me that you don't really think that I'm good at it". I have found that "I believe in you" is just as important as "I appreciate you" because we can so easily send the opposite message, especially in wedding planning. Next time he says "but you're so good at it" trying responding with "but so are you! i think you'll do a great job" (and mean it!).

  12. As a member of one of those lesbian couples running into the same problem, I can say "hell yeah." For us, it's just that Des doesn't care that much – as long as we're married and we have a party, she's happy. What she's really interested in is the honeymoon. So – easy – she's planning that. 🙂

    And your article also touches on another of our big relationship things – we always say those magical words, "thank you," even if it's a daily chore. "Thank you for doing the dishes." "Thank you for making dinner." "Thank you for helping me with that WoW boss." (We're nerds, deal with it.) It's amazing how much those two words can do.

    • The "thank yous" are huge. We're big on those. "Thank you for dinner tonight." "Thank you for doing the laundry." "Thank you for picking the dog up from daycare." Etc. I think it's really important to still THANK your partner for doing something that helps you, even if it's something he/she should be doing anyway. So what? If it makes YOUR life better in some way, that means you should therefore share your gratitude.

    • Agree with both of you! Jason thanks me for cooking dinner every time I do, and I always thank him for doing the dishes — even though we always split the duties this way. And it really does make a difference. It feels good to be appreciated even for something that's "expected." Maybe especially so. If anyone is not doing this in their relationship (any relationship — with other family members, friends, coworkers, anything), I strongly urge you to try it!

    • maybe there's something to the typical bride's parent's paying for the wedding thing and the groom's parents paying for the honeymoon. A wedding is really about what you both want to see represented about yourselves in your marriage-to-come. Sometimes our role-specific interests may be slightly different, but it's two halves that make a whole.

  13. My FH is super-helpful with wedding planning, he's very excited and always has ideas and comes to every vendor meeting…BUT…

    only when it's just us. When we're with friends and they ask US how wedding planning is going, he'll say something like "We're having cupcakes! Carlene is working on that…" [no, I'm not, desserts are his duty], or "Carlene was thinking about draping these long scarf things to hide the ceiling" [uh, HE was the one that came up with that because it was HIM that didn't want anyone to see ceilng tiles].

    He has no problem being involved, he just doesn't want anyone to know it.

  14. Yes yes yes.

    Mine and my FH's biggest imbalance regards obligation – in that, I feel obligated to do/attend certain things/events, particularly when it comes to my family, and he … doesn't. There's a number of reasons for this – i.e., his family dynamic is different than mine, that with the exception of one year, he's always lived at least 3+ hours from his family since college (and, actually, with the exception of the past 3 1/2 years, it's was more like 6+ hours) and I've never lived FURTHER than that from mine; etc.

    So, for example, I feel an obligation to attend so-and-so random cousin's kid's 8th bday party in lieu of, say, something cool and interesting and fun that I'm missing out on if I attend … and he DOESN'T. Getting him to go with me is like pulling teeth. On his end, he sees it as getting me to say, "Sorry, I can't go to this one, maybe next time," is like pulling teeth. We've found middle ground on this (I am more selective about how much I will drop for my family; he's more willing to go with me to the important ones), but it is definitely a tug of war. I like to think we're both better people for it (I stand up for myself more and don't let people take advantage of me; he is more open and willing to tolerate, and dare I say ENJOY, things he doesn't think will be fun for him).

    He said to me, a few days after we got engaged, "No! There will be no social politics in planning our wedding!" Oh … really? Have fun trying to stick to that. In the meantime, I'll run interference.

    • Just throwing this out there, but you should really stop feeling obligated to attend every family function. This will likely cause problems in the future and the longer you go on not being able to say no, the worse off you’ll be. You are creating a new family now. No, I am not saying stop visiting your parents….but things like attending a second cousin’s kid’s party? What? Yes, my family dynamic is different than yours which is why it’s so easy for me to say, but I definitely wouldn’t be attending some distant friend’s/family member’s kid’s party if my husband asked me to.

  15. this post also reminds me of the book about " the 5 love languages" in that people show love and appreciation in many different ways, and I think understanding this also contributes to your balance as a couple.

    For me, my husband did not want to help with any of the wedding planning until we stopped and had a real conversation about the wedding and what we both actually wanted for the big day . . and then we found an awesome compromise (small family only ceremony on a dinner cruise then big party the next weekend) and he helped plan the whole thing with me 🙂

  16. I've heard it said that wedding planning really is a good training ground for relationship building and for seeing what dynamics of your relationship may be problematic and need work. It's not a bad thing — just the way things often are. You're both thrown into a situation you've never been in before, and it allows you to see how the other might manage things. And it's a great time to confront those issues head-on!

  17. This was truly a spectacular post on a tricky topic. I appreciate the way you took gender influences out of the equation and stripped it down to a matter of *people* and what they are good at. Thank you.

  18. I am so delighted with this post, your so bright!
    I never have the right words to use when something like wanting help, comes up.
    And you Ariel always seem so articulate and ready to go.
    Thanks for helping me think more globally when the issue of wedding planning comes up.

  19. Thank you so much for this post!! It's so timely for me. I've just come through the whole "You're not helping" rage to a point where I realized that my guy actually needs to have his hand held through things like wedding planning and financial planning, and that THAT'S OK. It's not because he's lazy but because he's terrified and out of his element. Now I can give up the nagging and accept that these things are MY job. And in return, there are going to be things that are HIS job, like fixing the DVD player and making me laugh when I'm stressing over the wedding and financial planning.

  20. Great post! It can be hard to remember the big picture of all the great things your partner does in (and for) your life when you come home to a big pile of dirty dishes, but you're totally right, Ariel – it's about the balance of the relationship as a whole.

  21. That hits the nail on the head! My fiance and I have been through our share of ups and downs, a lot of them a whole lot more serious than wedding planning! We try really hard to convey our graciousness and appreciation for each other as often and as best we can, and it makes a world of a difference! Nothing means more than that "I appreciate you" because it comes straight from the heart and it's more than "I love you." This was a super awesome post Ariel!!

  22. Way to go Ariel! Most excellent and relevant advice. *takes to heart and shares the wisdom*

  23. Seriously: I would take a fiancé's disinterest as a warning sign that maybe I was going a little overboard, and I would make a point of talking to him straight about whether he was simply uninterested in the means to the end, or whether I was getting too intense and possessive and he felt as though I was shutting him out. Let's face it–the wedding industry is aimed almost exclusively at straight women, and (I imagine) even an offbeat guy could easily feel very unwelcome.

  24. Ahh, such a well-timed post. Part of what we've run into, as well, are falling into others' expectations of bride vs. groom. If the two of us are at a party with friends or a family event, the questions are directed only at me: what are you wearing? what are the colors? where's the reception? what kind of food? who's your photographer? what kind of flowers? what is he wearing? what kind of wedding bands? Speaking of bands, what kind of music? I'm learning that many people assume the bride has made all these decisions before she's even engaged. Whoops? I start stacking up these questions and frantically try to find answers and by this point, he's across the room, unaware these questions even came up. I'm trying to do a better job of noticing when I'm overwhelmed and asking for help (and pointing out to others that it's not entirely my decision.) He's doing a better job to get in on the answering, or at least saying, "Enough. We don't know, but we'll let you know when we do."

  25. Great article!

    My fiance and I are very different in that he lives much more in the moment, and I like to plan future events… It's a good balance!

    And I'm learning so much through the wedding planning about both of us.
    He had several things that he cared about incorporating in to the wedding – if it was possible – otherwise has left it up to me for the most part. I show him several ideas for invite/web design, and he gives me great feedback. We went to a bridal show for the first time and I was disappointed that he wanted to let me do the talking, I wanted to go off on vendors who only focus on the bride! 😛 But really, I have had my head in wedding zone so much, it just made more sense. Also by being there, I was able to get more information out of him being surrounded by the "faux" wedding, and I'm glad he went and gave me more of his opinions! For the most part, he has the parts he cares about and that's all he needs.

    We even had a discussion about how I think "OMG! so many awesome wedding ideas!" to "OMG! TOO MANY AWESOME IDEAS! I CAN'T CHOOSE!" where he would probably pick the first thing he saw! So I'm trying to realize that decisions don't have to be THAT tough, I can just choose a few and ask him to narrow it down to use both our personalities to our advantage.

    I get him to think about planning more – we are having a small party that was his idea (Pi day :P) and I was asking him who he wanted to invite, and I was thinking OK, if we invite X we invite Y, and yes, these two different friends would get along well, we have a good balance of people invited… He never would have put that kind of thought into it.

    And at the same time, he's helping me realize when I'm overplanning and spinning my wheels on useless things.

    Wedding planning is much different than I ever expected. While I can imagine it would be nice to have a more "even" partnership doing everything together, it really just reflects who we are – which is both a strength and weakness – and it's a great balance.

  26. Wow, this was incredibly insightful, and also, makes me never want to have a wedding. I can see exactly how it would go.

  27. I totally agree! My pet peeve is this:

    There's always going to be something – any number of things – that neither one of you wants to do (even if you both want the outcome). I've too often seen it where both partners want a big, fun wedding and the guy is given things he can "get into" to work on, and he loves it. They don't want to stop planning because they do want the wedding at the end of the line.

    But someone has to do a few of those less fun nitty-gritty tasks (like call and e-mail your Mom THREE TIMES for guest list info – seriously) or fold escort tent cards or SOMETHING boring. Those tasks always seem to fall to the woman, because the man is given stuff he can really get behind.

    And I hate that – it shouldn't be that way. It happens so often. If both partners get tasks that are assigned to their strengths or interests, I think it's just great, of course. But that also means fairly and evenly divvying up the things that have to be done (because you want the outcome, see) but nobody really wants to do.

    I am thankful every day for a fiance who pulls his weight at home (I haven't washed a dish in months; he hasn't had to eat instant noodles or attempt to cook. I haven't done laundry in years; he never has to pick up the living room or organize storage. He doesn't have to plan his finances rigorously. I don't have to kill bugs.) I prefer to think of it not as "He doesn't plan financially! Boo!" – but as "Hey! I don't have to kill that THING crawling on the wall! Yay!"

    This same fiance is a gem with wedding planning: yes, I do most of it, because I enjoy it. But when nitty-gritty stuff that everyone hates (actually assembling those amazing DIY invites that we conjured up…one by one) has to be done, he's right there with me, cutting and folding the damn Japanese paper over and over, sticking the sticker on and putting them in envelopes and all that. Which is such a beautiful thing.

    • Yes! This is exactly what I thought when I read this post. Ariel is spot-on as usual in reminding us of what's really important in a long-term relationship, but…what I wanted to say to the woman who wrote in for advice was, "Figure out a way to split up/do together the tasks that neither of you want to do." Not nagging, not whining, just being really straightforward. If this is really important to both of you, then both of you should be doing it. A calm, non-reactive, non-blaming conversation about what needs to be accomplished might be what's in order.

  28. This post was absolutely brilliant, Ariel! You've really got a knack for tackling common relationship issues from a new perspective – and you hit the nail on the head every time! I'm definitely sharing this with my FH and my family as well. Like you said, it isn' just about weddings; it's something that can strengthen any relationship – and not just romantic ones! PLEASE keep the great posts coming:)

  29. Yes!

    wow, I *really* needed to read this today.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  30. This post is totally up there with "your wedding is not a contest" and "your wedding is tacky" articles! To be honest, I started worrying that all the other offbeat grooms seemed to be really interested, helpful and inspired where my own husband to be…well….wasnt so much.
    But its okay. It wasnt really problem. We're different people with different strengths and weaknesses, nothing wrong with that.

  31. Wow. I can honestly say I wish I had this problem. My S.O. is a graphic artist and very very much involved in every aspect of planning our wedding, but sometimes I wish he would back off and just let me do the whole thing!

  32. “Do they hold you when you cry…Do they support your visions? Do they uphold your values?”

    This made me tear up. Yes! He does. Wow, I am lucky. Thanks for the coconut to the head.

  33. Awesome post. I’ve been stuck in the my-fiance-won’t-help-plan rut, too, a place I never expected to find myself! I ranted a bit, and of course that didn’t help at all. So yesterday I waited until he was just lounging around and told him to do some venue research. I told him what he needed to do, what questions to answer, and left him alone. A few hours later he had found some of the most awesome venues I’ve ever seen! He even sifted through some great possibilities and narrowed them down for me. They’re probably above our budget, but it was such a boost to me that he got involved. He even made phone calls to vendors for pricing info, with a list of questions I helped him make. Ok, so it took a lot of help – but it made me realize that while I’ve been planning every aspect of my birthday parties since I was 4, he has never had experience with this stuff. I guess my advice, then, is to take a deep breath and break off a specific hunk of work for the non-involved partner. It might turn out that they just need a little guidance. Then again, maybe not, but it’s worth a shot!

  34. If you’d have asked me 3 weeks ago, I would have said that we would break up planning a wedding! I’m the organised one, happy to research and manage projects for a living. He’s not so keen on reality, and procrastinates on anything that he considers a ‘chore’. I often get told off for ‘trying to project manage him’.

    But my boyfriend proposed, and I have had to change some of my perceptions of him, not least cause he’d always hated the idea of marriage (divorced parents and no desire for kids etc.)… I’ve been amazed by his willing to talk and it turns out, he’s very excited over the whole thing… as long as the discussions stay within the boundaries of a max. half hour session.

    So we’ve been talking about it in general terms while walking home from work every few days, and agreeing to spend half an hour on the weekend for more dedicated stuff like making a guest list and findng a venue on the net… good thing we set a long engagement period?!

    But seriously, its made me take him more seriously and realise that he really wants this and, more importantly is showing both of us how this can work better. After over 10 years of being together and struggling to organise anything unless I take total control of planning/checking/booking/getting us to the airport etc., it looks like we might be discovering another way to approach this stuff? I really really hope so!

    Oh, and I’m learning to shut my mouth and hold onto thoughts about the wedding possibilities for appropriate times, rather than as soon as I see him after work or first thing in the morning 😉

  35. Ah, I am SO lucky! He cares about details. He cares about the laundry, the budget, and said “you’ve bought a bunch of cool stuff!” when I showed him a list of things I’ve purchased for our wedding (prematurely). Now, if I could just get a proposal and a wedding date….

  36. I just started planning my wedding and my I am hitting a similar problem. Its not that he doesn’t want to help or that he doesn’t care about the decisions I am making. Its that he freely admits that he doesn’t know that much about weddings or planning at all and that he trusts that if I say its fine then it will be fine. But I also go out of my way to ask him his opinion on the things I know are important to him, it usually just involves me explaining what it is, and why he would care.

    The first couple times I was worried that he didn’t care, and that he wasn’t really into the whole thing. But then we talked about it, and that is really the big thing I think, Communication makes or breaks relationships.

  37. I have found this to be true with my fiance and I setting up our first apartment together, too. I have taken care of all the decorating, and although he’s not big into color coordinating and feng shui or whatever, he did mention that he’d always lived in “Franken-houses” with no sense of continuity or style. So I’ve made a point to make our place of living a beautiful place for him to be (albeit rather slowly). He loves Stephen King and has a numbered print of the Gunslinger cover (by Michael Whelen), and one day while he was at work (and I’m a teacher on summer break), I made sure to hang it from the wall so it is the first thing you see when you come in. It’s beautiful, and it’s a great centerpiece, but although he hasn’t coordinated anything pretty in the place, he took a picture of that entryway and posted it on facebook. It was his way of not saying it, but demonstrating that he was appreciative that his awesome fiance put up his favorite piece of artwork for him.

    It’s the little things like that. And admittedly, I am way, way way super ridiculous into planning this wedding, and he just sort of stays even keel (and budgets for it, worries about how we’ll save all we need to), but although I recognize those imbalances, I know that we are well-suited to working them out.

    Amazing, wonderful, absolutely dead-on article.

  38. If you were right next to me I’d hug you and buy you Starbucks! I really needed to read this today and should probably put it in my favorites folder and make a daily ritual. I exploded a few weeks ago and first of all I’m happy it’s not just my fiance that does these things (when it always feels it’s just him) and secondly, I’m so happy I have a supoort group to vent out on! 🙂 We were getting to the point where we were rethinking the whole marriage and didn’t know if it was still a good idea. Sometimes we get so caught up and DEEP into our situations that it’s good to hear it from someone else that hey it’s ok to take a breather and laugh lol. THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!! *Big Sigh of Relief*

  39. Good points! It’s so easy to focus on what they don’t do well and to forget about what they do amazingly well.

  40. I just assumed my man didn’t want to help. Turns out he does. You have to communicate – I guess I just assumed that it was my job to do all this crap and he didn’t want any part of it. I asked him to help me make a list of people he wanted invited to the wedding and he wasn’t helping. We had a fight and I thought “oh he doesn’t want to marry me” but what he really wanted was a chance to have his say.

  41. Mostly agree, but my guy needs to help more because- a) he’s the one that wants to do a reception later this year (we got married in front of a handful of family at a record store 6 weeks ago) & b) this is going to be full DIY because we have less than no budget after a bankruptcy and uninsured $k+ burglary. If he doesn’t pull his weight, I can’t pull it off.

  42. My Chewtoy, on a fundamental mental level, really *can’t* help me with planning. His brain is not wired for planning much of anything, but if someone makes a schedule of events/timetable, he can follow it to the T– and excel. I say this because it might help other couples if the one defacto “in charge” can get the other on board with “little jobs”. If the typical “male” partner was raised in the U.S., a lot of them learned culturally that they’re supposed to help their girlfriend/spouse with her problems. So, need to schedule 3 caterer meetings/tastings? The less involved partner gets “a little job”. “Hey hon? I need your help with a little job. Can you please call Jim’s Food Truck this afternoon and make an appointment for next week so we can taste some food for the wedding? I put the number on a blue sticky note on the fridge.” And then, the next day or so, “Just to let you know, sweetheart, that I made an appointment for another tasting thing on Saturday afternoon. We’ll be at that barbecue place we talked about. Thank you so much for calling the food truck for me; it’s a big help. Did everything go okay with scheduling?” (In our case, this gives him a chance to tell me when the appointment actually is instead of thinking he told me, but forgetting, or not writing it down.) The thanks and expression of appreciation reinforce the idea that you needed help (not rescuing, just assistance) and that they’ve successfully “done something” for the wedding and been good at it, so you’re hopefully set up to ask about more “little jobs” as the process continues. I feel better being the Captain of the Ship, so to speak, than stuck doing everything. While I end up doing a lot of the work, I have help when I need it. I just need to be reminded to say thank you, not “Why couldn’t you have volunteered to do that yourself?” In my case, he’s just not wired that way.

  43. “Ultimately, the issue isn’t whether they’re helping you with the wedding. Change your perspective: are they helping you out with your LIFE?”

    Thanks. I needed to read that.

  44. I really needed this right now because my FH is one of those who just doesn’t really care about the wedding planning. I’ve been kind of struggling with that imbalance as well as a few others in our relationship in general. It’s just really nice to know that all couples struggle with this issue. 🙂

  45. this post was so useful for me right now. Yesterday was so much drama and I wish I could have just taken a deep breath and read this article

  46. I *so* needed this. It was to the point where I couldn’t see all of the qualities in my fiance that I fell in love with in the first place. I literally made a pros & cons list – and could only come up with 3 cons versus 24 pros!

    This also helped me think of a better/different way to approach him with helping out. It’s crunch time now and I really need help…and some appreciation. Besides him not helping much, I need to hear *thank you* more.

  47. I’ll have to keep this page on tap for wedding planning round two, as the first time was an absolute nightmare. FH had a very specific idea of what he wanted but then left everything to me. Things like, he knew the exact meadhall he wanted as our venue but failed to come up with the contact details for it multiple times, I still dont know if that place even has a wedding license. Wanting an amazing medieval feast and tournament, me doing weeks of research only to have him protest at the prices I’d found, but never showing me anything better! Leaving the person who wasnt even interested in marraige (dont misunderstand me, I love my FH dearly but a wedding has Never been something I’d even thought about until he proposed) in frustrated tatters and questioning what to do.
    Granted, it was all happening very fast and it was probably all a bit much for him, but it was the wedding he envisioned within the timescale he had requested I was trying to achieve (we were meant to be moving to america) and frankly it was a bit much for me too.
    Luckily, in my opinion, america fell through for us and that wedding was put on hold indefinitely (thank god, as I hadnt even managed to book a venue). We’ve got a lot more time to grow as a relationship and can get married in our own time, with a better budget and no pressure from outside forces (apart from all the family politics that will ensue im sure). I’m sure there will still be conflicts and of course I worry that history might just repeat itself but I think if we take the time to just breathe, maybe it’ll go better x

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