Long time reader, first time writing in. My fiancé (22) and I (23) have been together for a lovely 5 years, have never had a single fight and have been fairly good at communicating. Our wedding is scheduled for mid next year and we have of course got into the intensive planning phase.
This is a problem with layers, SWI. Because, as with many issues I see come across my desk, the fight you’re having isn’t the fight you think you’re having.
Let’s start with the absolute surface issue before we get into the underlying problems.
So I’m someone who had a fairly spiffy wedding with no regrets SWI, but I’m on your side here: weddings tend to be vastly overpriced affairs that often leads to unnecessary fights, conflicts and drama — not to mention debt. And you aren’t wrong that weddings bring out not just the price gouging but also the upselling. I suspect that if you were to go and price out everything — the same venue, the same decorations, etc. — and called it a family reunion instead of a wedding, you’d see a significant difference in price.
Now here’s the thing about weddings: you won’t remember 90% of it. Years down the line (hell, months, even), you’ll look back and say “Wait… we had chairs?” But what you remember and what your fiancé will remember are two very different things. Part of the way to make getting married a (somewhat) less stressful mess is to pick the things that you’ll know you’ll remember and push for those. I couldn’t tell you the color scheme of mine, what the cutlery or dishware looked like or what flowers we had because I wasn’t concerned about those things. I knew that I would remember the food, the ceremony, the cake and the music, so those were the areas where I pushed the hardest. If the chairs aren’t important to you and you can afford them… well honestly, I don’t think that’s a fight worth having. I think you can let that go in the name of nuptial bliss.
But that isn’t really what this fight is about. You and your fiancé are having two entirely different fights. This is coming from a place of what’s important to you, what aligns most with your values and what this wedding means to you. You are seeing this as a frivolous expense and one that’s costing money that the two of you could be investing in your future together ($15k could be the down payment on a house! Or a car!) while your fiancé is seeing the chance to live a dream that she’s likely had since childhood. While I agree, I think $1000 is a hell of an upcharge for chairs, this isn’t about the chairs to her; this is about what they represent. She’s not upset about the chairs — y’all didn’t know they existed until the venue upsold you on them — but whether or not she’s going to get one day to live in a fairy tale. A fairy tale that is already a little bittersweet for her, considering that her father passed away and won’t be there to see it. So in this case, the question you need to ask is whether or not $1000 is going to make that much of a difference, or whether that’s a small price to pay for a dream.
So, no. On a strictly practical level, I don’t think this is a fight you need to have. While I agree that this is money that you could probably use to better effect elsewhere, if this isn’t going to mean the difference between being able to pay the rent or disrupting your plans for the future together, then it’s something I think you can give on.
But with all that having been said, there’s a third layer to this whole conflict and frankly that’s the fact that the two of you are getting married when neither of you are old enough to rent a car yet. That’s going to be a bigger issue, especially in the long run, then however much you spend on this wedding. To be perfectly blunt: I think getting married this young is a mistake. You two are at a stage where you’re only just starting to develop as adults. This is, in many ways, the chrysalis stage; school starts the process, but your early 20s tend to finish it. You’re going to be facing challenges and experiences that will change you and make you realize that you who are and who you think you are can be two entirely different things. That can change your outlook on a whole lot of issues… including your values, and your relationships. What is important to you now is likely not going to be as important to you three, four or even five years down the line… and they won’t for your fiancé either. That often takes a toll on relationships and marriages. In fact, marrying young tends to correlate with getting divorced young.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not telling you that that divorce is inevitable and that you should break up. What I am saying is that you should put things on pause — especially while you can still get the deposit back. What I would recommend is a long engagement… possibly even until you two hit 25, which seems to be the sweet spot for marriage. This has a number of advantages for the two of you. To start with, it gives you both firmer footing to start a life together; you’ll have more of a chance to establish yourselves financially and emotionally as adults. You’ll have more time to decide just what is actually important to the two of you and more perspective on whether you would rather have the big fancy party or just nip off to the courthouse and use savings for a vacation, a new house or an investment in a future business venture. And if you do decide to have the big party with the cake and the food and all the trimmings… you’ll have a better idea of just what will really matter to the two of you.
I know this is a strange topic, but I hope you can give me some advice. It’s not easy for me to say this but I’m scared of girls. Like, terrified. Back in high-school almost every girl in my class used to make fun of me, call me names, say how ugly and disgusting I was, how my parents hated me, that I would be better off dead, they would point and laugh at me and so on. I don’t know what I did wrong, since I was the quiet kid sitting in the back with his two or three friends and never really bothering anybody and I was never like bullied by other boys.
So, what do I mean with scared? Well, for example, if I’m walking on the street and a woman or a group of women around my age (I’m 24 btw) or younger are walking towards me, my heart starts pounding, I sweat, my legs shake and I feel like at any point she or they will laugh at me or say something like what girls in my class used to say. It’s worse when they are two or more, because it’s feels like they will surround me and just tell my how much they hate me. I try
to avoid women as much as possible, I try to not look or talk to them unless is strictly necessary and every time I feel like I should apologise for my mere presence and for daring to talk to them.
I want to believe that not every girl I meet hates me but it’s very hard. Every time it feels like they’re faking it and when I’m gone they openly talk about how hideous and stupid am I. I know it’s not very manly, but believe me I’m really scared and it’s hard for me to just being outside and is messing with my life and work. How can I get over this? Or things are just like this?
Thanks in advance!
Scared and Ashamed
I’m sorry you went through that SaA. It can be confusing and terrifying to suddenly be the target of bullying that seems to have come at you out of the clear blue sky and it can leave some lasting scars. So let’s talk a little about just what happened and how you can start to let go of this fear.
Here’s why you were targeted: you were there. That’s it. High-school couldn’t have been better designed to be a cauldron of bullshit and misery if people had gone out of their way to create a factory to produce anxiety, neurosis and sheer balls-shrinking terror. And that affects everybody because high-school is hell for pretty much everyone. Everybody is sleep-deprived because schools are still clinging to a system devised around a farming community’s schedule and not the biological needs of teenagers. Everyone’s a bundle of anxiety and confusion because everyone’s dealing with massive physical and social changes that’re met by society telling them that they should already have a handle on things instead of providing the tools to actually manage themselves. Everyone is encouraged to be unique individuals, but then deviations from the norm (whether in gender expression, neurotypicality or sexuality) is punished — often with the tacit approval of the people in authority.
Folks are alternating between mirroring their parents’ beliefs and values and trying to figure out their own, nobody understands what’s going on and everyone’s clinging to any sort of structure that helps make sense of the chaos and confusion. Part of why high-school turns into a massive stew of cliques and drama is because we run schools like they’re medium-security prisons and everyone’s just trying to survive. People will lash out because… well, that’s one of the easiest ways to assert yourself and try to force a place into the social hierarchy. And — as with toxic masculine values — there’re few ways that are more efficient at gaining status than taking it from someone else.
And unfortunately, you drew the short straw. No rhyme or reason, just people dealing with their own trauma and bullshit by inflicting it on other people who happened to be handy and they got away with it. And the saddest thing is how few people will realize just how shitty they were to others back in the day.
But there’s the thing: that shit is over. You are goddamn free. You can look back on your time in high-school as a nightmare that you have finally been able to wake up from. Now is the time to start shaking off the remnants of that nightmare and remembering that you’re in the real world now, with people who are (mostly) done with all that drama and heinous fuckery most foul.
Realizing that, however, doesn’t make the scars go away. That is going to take a combination of therapy, grit and experience. The good thing is that you can start getting that experience now, in low-stakes ways. You can start by simply just existing in public spaces where you’re likely to encounter women. Sitting in the park with a book, walking around the mall, sitting at the counter at a restaurant or bar and just minding your own business is a start. You can even take those opportunities to low-key eavesdrop on the conversations around you. One of the first things you’ll discover is just how little the people around you are going to care about you. This sounds cold or cruel but it’s not; it’s not that you’re unimportant or unnoticable, it’s that everyone is so wrapped up in their own drama that they’re not going to pay attention to you the way you think they do.
Back in my PUA days, I used to think that if I flubbed an approach, then everyone would notice and I’d be laughed out of the bar. In reality, what would happen is that people would basically forget I was even there as soon as I left their eyeline. As weird as that may sound… it was actually incredibly freeing. Once I realized that most people would never notice my worst mistakes, I didn’t have to spend as much time worrying about complete strangers who wouldn’t even remember me in the span it took to get another beer.
Once you recognize that you aren’t being weighed, measured and judged by all and sundry, you can start to up the ante by attending mixed group events and meet-ups. Find something that interests you, like a MeetUp about one of your passions or a volunteer opportunity and just go be part of the group. You don’t have to be Mr. Social, but you do want to participate. As you do, you’ll find yourself coming in contact with women of all ages and backgrounds… and you’ll start to realize that no, they don’t hate you. They aren’t talking about you, they aren’t gossiping about you… they’re just there because they’re interested in the same things you are. Over time, you may even discover that you’re becoming friends with them. This is good; the more female friends you make, the more you’ll recognize just how aberrant your high-school experience was. The issue wasn’t that they were girls who hated you because you were a subhuman, the problem is that they were fucking assholes.
And frankly, life is too goddamn short to let the assholes win.
But even if you do start to work on desensitizing yourself, don’t forget to find a counselor or therapist, especially one who deals with phobias and CPTSD; the level of anxiety you’re feeling is the sort of thing that often requires the help of a trained professional, not just a loudmouth with an advice column.
You’ll be OK. I promise.
All will be well.