We all think we know what we mean when we say “man cave.” A man cave is a testosterone-blessed safe space, usually in a wood-paneled basement, to which you can retreat to indulge in all things manful and masculine. But there is another definition for man cave, one which might get you and your bride through your marriage in one piece.
Man-cave, (v.) – conceededing to the female in your life to avoid arguments, stress, and tears. As in: “I missed the game because she wanted to watch This Is Us and I totally man-caved.”
There are plenty of times in everyday life when one man-caves: wearing the sweater your girlfriend’s mother knitted for you, watching Downton Abbey reruns and…kale. However, when it comes to your wedding, things are a little less clear-cut.
Remember, this is a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime experience that will resonate with you both on a deeply emotional level. That’s right macho man: you’re going to feel emotion. Real emotion, not the sadness you felt when Han Solo got force-kebabbed in that Star Wars movie.
There’s a good chance that you’ll get a little misty during saying your vows, or when listening to the best man’s speech, or when you catch a glimpse of your pops secretly brushing away an “allergy-induced” tear during the reception.
If you’re feeling emotional, your bride is probably feeling it in spades. You’re going to have to be supportive of her, which means you’re going to have to employ the man-cave more than once. But it’s equally important that you stand up for yourself at times. The secret is achieving the right balance.
Here are four general steps to help you gather your thoughts and understand when to man-cave and when to man-up.
Make a wish list of everything you could ever want from your wedding, then start crossing things off. Wearing Chucks with your tux? Nope. Synchronized dance down the aisle to Baby Got Back? You know how we feel about that. A wedding band or DJ that plays important songs from your courtship? That’s better. Writing your own vows? Definitely take a shot.
Once you narrow down what is truly essential for you, find a good time to explain to your fiancé not only what, but also why these things are important. Show her your list. She’ll appreciate that you put the time and effort into making this day special for both of you. Plus, she’ll laugh at all the ridiculous things you crossed off your list. (Dressing the ring bearer as Frodo Baggins, for instance.)
Your bride-to-be has probably imagined her wedding day for many more years than you have. Be patient and put yourself in her shoes. Not literally…that’s a longer discussion. No matter how foreign a suggestion might sound at first, do not roll your eyes. “A naked cake in a shabby chic barn with chevron table runners?” What the hell does that even mean? It’s okay to be confused, just be open-minded and try to understand where she’s coming from.
This is really the key to everything. You’re not going to get 100% of what you want and neither will your fiancé. What’s crucial is that you find a middle ground and give one another what’s most important to both of you. Planning a wedding is the perfect primer for the rest of lives together. Create a fun, collaborative experience that’s built on mutual respect and consideration, and you’re off to a good start to married life.