The Five-Minute Rule

Why Men Can't Stand Wedding Planning

Five minutes. That’s the amount of time
I can handle talking about my upcoming wedding without feeling like
my head is going to explode. Don’t get me wrong — I’m entirely
interested and want to be involved in the process, I don’t have the
slightest symptoms of cold feet, and I pride myself on being
helpful, especially when it comes to such an important day in my
life. But there’s something about talk of water glasses, seat
cushion colors, cupcake displays, table widths, Chinese lantern
lighting, and appropriate party favors — matches or magnets? — that
sets my head a-spinning.

And it’s not just me. I’ve checked with my cousins and close
friends who’re getting or recently were married, and they say the
same thing: five, maybe 10 minutes, and that’s it — the head
explodes. Why is this? Why do men have trouble dwelling on
particulars and napkins, specifics and fork types?

We — well, my fiancée — have been planning for at least six
months now, so I’ve had ample time (certainly more than five
minutes a day) to dwell on the details. My initial assumption was
that men have a hard time investing so much thought and energy into
what will be less than eight hours of our lives. Sure, it’s a day
to remember forever, but it’s still just a day, and it goes against
masculine common sense to invest so many more hours of time and
precious brainpower — let’s not even get into money — in a mere
blip on the radar screen of life. But that answer wasn’t
satisfying. Something deeper is going on.

So I did some Google-ing in search of “wedding groom counselors”
and “wedding planning nightmares.” All I found was groomzilla, so I
searched “groomzilla opposite.” No dice, though I did find one
article that suggested today’s weddings were such a far cry from
the way things were done until the 1950s, the time when
individualism of each sex started to take hold and love, rather
than economic or social motivation, became the reason for
matrimony. Author Stephanie Coontz wrote: “Marriage is now based on
the love of two partners who have an equal say in determining how
their commitment will work. As a result, constructing a marriage is
now a more personal undertaking — but it is also more precarious.”
Makes sense, I guess, but it doesn’t really answer my central
concern of men versus women in the wedding planning realm.

And then, last Thursday, we went to see Saral Burdette, our
celebrant. (And perhaps the first part of the planning process I
thoroughly enjoy because, I think, we’re finally dealing with the
spiritual, meaningful meat and potatoes, not the actual, physical
meat and potatoes.) Toward the end of our two-hour meeting, I
brought up my problem, wondering if she had any insight after 14
years of officiating and more than 700 weddings. Not surprisingly,
she did.

Burdette explained she’s read a bunch of recent brain research
that shows men are more task-oriented, as in, “Tell me what to do
and I will do it.” (That would explain my standing offer to handle
all the wedding planning in the span of one week.) But women’s
brains work on a wider level, allowing them to see the big
picture — the forks, the seat cushions, the coffee cups, the
seating arrangements, the flowers, the lighting — all at once. So
when it comes time for the lady to talk to her gent about the
myriad aspects of planning, her knight in shining armor turns into
an exploding pumpkin. (And then his princess devolves into
stressed-out bridezilla.) He, on the other hand, is perfectly
capable — and even better, Burdette has read — at getting single
tasks done efficiently and quickly. But only one at a time.

She suggested brides might have an easier time hashing out
details with their girlfriends, rather than irritate their
grooms-to-be with nightly details. But Burdette also advised it
would behoove my fiancée and me to set up a particular day of the
week — such as Tuesday — and plan for an hour of chatting about the
wedding. At least then I can prepare myself.

Most of all, though, Burdette explained the whole wedding
planning process is a true rite of passage, a lens through which
the rest of our lives together can be seen. So if we can get
through this without my head exploding, then, it appears, we can
make it through anything. Bring on next Tuesday.


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