Dear Tom and Ray:
My ﬁancée and I were discussing our wedding plans the other day, and a question came up. We’ll be driving away in my VW convertible (there was no discussion on that). However, her maid of honor insists on decorating it. I told my ﬁancée no. I don’t want my car dressed up like a clown car. I hate those people who put antlers and a red ball on the hood during the holidays, thinking it’s cute. I compromised and said that a magnet on the back that simply states “Just Married” would be ﬁne. But I’m afraid I’m going to walk out and there will be stuff all over my beautiful car. What do you think? Am I crazy? I will be using everything you say in our court of love law. So, please side with me ... but be unbiased.* (*wink)—Ray
TOM: Making decisions in a marriage is an art, Ray.
RAY: Which makes my brother, what? Jackson Pollock!
TOM: Right. I’ve spilled a lot of paint throughout the years. So trust me on this stuff.
RAY: We’re sympathetic to you, Ray. As are all of our male readers who live in houses with pink kitchens and bathrooms.
TOM: But “getting married” is really the ﬁrst act of “being married.” Planning a wedding and dealing with increasingly crazed relatives and friends as the date gets closer forces you to work together as a couple.
RAY: In order to succeed as a couple, you have to learn to make decisions that are acceptable to both of you. If the way you settle arguments is that one of you wins and the other one loses, it’s going to be a short marriage.
TOM: In which case you might as well insist on having your way, Ray.
RAY: More top-notch marital advice from my brother.
TOM: Actually, here’s where I noticed a problem. You say that you’ll be driving away in your VW convertible, and that there was no discussion on that. Well, maybe there should have been discussion on that. Just as there should be discussion on anything you both feel strongly about.
RAY: When you disagree, one thing each of you wants to assess is the relative importance of the given issue. It may be that she doesn’t really care what car you drive away in, so if taking the VW is important to you, she’s ﬁne with that. But it may be that decorating the car and fully emasculating you in full public view of your nearest and dearest IS important to her. In which case, you may need to give her that.
TOM: Or the car decoration might not be very important to her, so she’ll agree to the magnetized sign, but you’ll agree to something else that’s more important to her.
RAY: Like agreeing that your frat brother Zeke will be chained to the ﬂoor in the coat closet until the ceremony and reception both are over and your honeymoon ﬂight is at 28,000 feet.
TOM: So when you don’t agree on something, start by asking, “How important is this to you, on a scale of one to ten?” When there’s stuff that she rates a nine or ten and you rateatwo or three, do it her way. And vice versa.
RAY: And just a warning, Ray. If you rate everything a ten, you’ll be joining my brother very shortly in the marriage-of-the-month-club. Congratulations, you two!