I just recently got engaged to my boyfriend of a year and a half. Right in front of my family and half of my graduating class, next to a campus landmark, he asked me to spend my life with him. We celebrated with my family and shared the news with his family. Then he had to go home to LA, and I had to begin the month-long process of wrapping up my college life and moving to California. This was right about the time panic set in. Everyone and their brother began calling, emailing, and sending cards (some with money… WIN!) and they all wanted to know when we were getting married, was I going to make my own dress, would they be invited, blah, blah, blah. I had literally spent 48 hours with my fiancé, and during that time, we’d been entertaining family and packing boxes… we hadn’t had a single second to enjoy being engaged, let alone plan our wedding. In my panicked state, I bought a book called “What No One Tells the Bride” by Marg Stark. It was written in 1998, but the reviews said it was a must-read for newly engaged brides-to-be… which meant me.
First of all, this woman got me. Right after she got engaged, her fiancé was shipped off (literally) for a six month deployment on a naval ship while she moved to San Francisco by herself to move into their apartmetn. Okay, so my fiancé was in LA, not the middle of the ocean, and thanks to the development of technology, I still got to see him on Skype every night and talk to him throughout my whole move. Even though he was in Denmark when I moved into our apartment, I could still communicate with him at night. This poor woman didn’t even get to talk to her fiancé regularly! So, the first lesson I got out of this book was, “SHUT UP! It’s not that bad!” I could whine and complain all I wanted about not getting to enjoy the engagement, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that somewhere on this planet, there was a man who loved me enough to “put a ring on it.”
Something else I appreciated was her tone. I’ve taken classes on how to talk to people and how to understand communication, and I even took a psychology class on human sexuality to learn more about relationships. Stark and her friends share stories and tips on how to deal with fights and confrontations. It was just nice to see the principles everyone always shares (like, “The key to a good relationship is open communication”) in action. It’s fine and dandy to have a set of rules to follow, but unless someone can tell you how they applied it in real life, that rule book isn’t going to help in the least.
All great things aside, the greatest lesson in this book is that marriage is dynamic. You don’t set up your life together and stick with everything you’ve learned forever… You learn and grow and change together. I’ve watched my parents’ marriage, but as an outsider. Their actual relationship wasn’t something that I was ever a part of, so it’s always been a mystery as to how they got through fights and stayed together, or even how some couples don’t make it through fights and get divorced. Hearing the stories of how real wives got mad at their real husbands (or made those husbands mad) and how they worked through it was very helpful. There were tips to communicating, shutting up, and compromising. At times, I wished I could get my fiancé to read some of the pages to get his perspective on a story. And in the end, we had a few good conversations about our own relationship that were sparked by things I read in this book.
We still haven’t started planning our wedding, but we’re finally getting around to enjoying our engagement. As we get our lives together, we know things will fall into place (like the wedding… we still don’t have a date yet), but we’re looking forward to all the nuttiness that is bound to come with figuring out what our marriage will mean to us. In the mean time, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has just gotten engaged, just gotten married, or who has been married for years and feels like they haven’t figured it out yet. It’s a great, light read!