Joy Magazine

Setting the Stage

Romance now will pay dividends forever

So you want to get married. This magnificent celebration is designed to acknowledge and fortify romantic love between two people. Here are some tips for taking good care of that romance before, during and after the wedding.

The all-important proposal
Men like to tell stories — stories about great adventures or defining moments or the one that got away. Women tell stories, too, and how and when her marriage proposal occurred is often one of the big ones.

Most women thrive on being cherished. So when a marriage proposal is enacted in a cherishing manner, she will call on that memory over and over, and it will feed the fire of her personal well-being as a woman for a long, long time.

Sometimes men think that women experience romantic gestures as "cheesy" or "clichéd." Think again. Women loved being told that they're beautiful and thoroughly enjoy romantic dinners, gestures and gifts. Most women relax deeply when a man makes the effort to study her happiness and then creates an experience that increases her joy.

So guys, if you're going to pop the question, think about who she is and what really lights her up, and then bring it on — an elegant setting, a special getaway, roses, champagne, a band playing your song. Remember that you're setting the stage for a memory that will always remind her of why marrying you was one of the best choices she ever made.

The planner
Planning and implementing a wedding can be stressful and consuming. Taken to the extreme, wedding stress can result in "bridezillas" and grooms with cold feet. Often the weight of the planning will fall on the bride because she's usually the one who actually cares whether the lavender color of the invitations matches the bunting in the church. She's imagining and orchestrating another one of her very important memories.

The bride will forever remember the perfection of that day while the groom will forever remember how much love and light was in her eyes when she came down the aisle and smiled at him. Without an awareness of each other's priorities, she can become obsessive and frustrated with his lack of enthusiasm for the project, and he can get lonely and feel like the cake is more important than he is.

So here are two suggestions that can nurture your relationship during the months leading up to the wedding:

The first idea comes from Deborah Elliott, an event coordinator who lived in the Rogue Valley for many years: Factor a wedding planner into your spending plan. It's worth skimping on the seafood to hire someone who will manage the details of your wedding, so that both bride and groom have more time to stay connected with one another through the process. You can still have all of the input you want on the decisions and details, but you can also leave the weight of implementation to a professional.

Piggybacking on that idea, the second suggestion is to schedule regular, romantic, one-on-one dates during the months when the wedding is being planned and created. Keep the courtship alive (a suggestion that also applies to the next 50 years of your married life).

Guys, take her out to her favorite restaurant, take some ballroom dance lessons, grab a beer and shoot some pool — whatever allows her to relax, release the reins and affords an opportunity for the two of you to have fun and focus on your attraction and affection for one another.

The prehoneymoon
And, if you can swing it, I suggest that you put a weekend romantic getaway, a prehoneymoon, into your spending plan. Enjoy two fewer days on Maui after the ceremony and give yourself two nights on the Oregon Coast several weeks before the wedding. Invest some of your resources in the health of the romance so that when the big day comes, you are more relaxed, tuned into one another and definitely feeling the love.

By consciously nurturing your relationship as you move into marriage, you set the stage for a fulfilling, lifelong, romantic union.

Sierra Faith is a dating and relationship coach who leads dating support groups and works with individual clients. Learn more at

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