There’s a new syndicated show out called Stag: A Test of Love. On this show, men take camera crews along on their bachelor parties, and then their fiancées watch the tapes.
Do I need to tell you not to watch this show? Good. But just in case someone bangs you on the head with a ball peen hammer or something, here’s a quick reminder: Do not watch this show. It will bring every irrational fear you ever had about bachelor parties screaming to the front of your brain. And even though you know they’re irrational, there they will be.
And, really, the bachelor party is something that most brides already worry about plenty. (Seriously: You don’t need to worry about the stuff on Stag. For the show to work, it needs 1) grooms who are sleazy and dumb enough to commit acts of skankitude with a camera crew right there and 2) brides who are dumb enough to watch the tapes in front of that same camera crew, whose very presence indicates that the tapes must be pretty bad. Neither of you is dumb, so you don’t have to worry about Stag.
But it is pretty normal to be anxious about your fiancé’s bachelor party.
Some ladies are lucky enough to be engaged to guys who are completely grossed out by the traditional puke-and-strippers bachelor party and get to send their young men off to paintball games or fishing weekends or cigar-and-cognac evenings.
Others, not so much. You may have a guy who’s secretly grossed out by bachelor parties, but doesn’t want to disappoint his can’t-wait-to-go-wild buddies. Or you may have a guy who’s looking forward to a crazy bachelor party as a rite of passage of sorts.
And everyone has heard a horror story that a friend heard about a cousin of a friend of a friend.
It can make even the most laid-back bride freak out a little bit.
And it is a weird area. It’s definitely a topic where it might be a good idea to talk about expectations, but that has to happen delicately. If your groom feels like you’re trying to control him, he might go wilder than he was originally planning just to prove his independence. He won’t want to establish a pattern of you telling him what he can and can’t do throughout your marriage. That may be the furthest thing from your mind, but that kind of doesn’t matter – this is so close to the wedding that it’s an automatically touchy area. Plus, he’s going to be spending the evening with fifteen guys who are constantly making jokes about him being whipped.
And think about it: you don’t want to be ordered around either. Let’s say you and the girls are planning a quilting bee for your bachelorette party. Your fiancé sweeps in and forbids you to see any male whose shirt isn’t buttoned up to at least his clavicle. Wouldn’t you run out and do body shots off of pretend doctors and cowboys just to prove a point?
So any boundaries the two of you set for your nights out have to be a mutual decision, and he really does need to have an equal say.
But before you do any talking, you need to sit down with yourself. First off, the bottom line: You have to trust him. If you really can’t trust your fiancé to have an evening with the boys and not sleep with someone else, what are you doing marrying him? Either cancel that cake order right now or do whatever you have to do to make sure your brain wrestles that green-eyed monster into submission.
Now that you’ve conquered the green, you have to wade through some grey areas. There are some big, wide, mushy ones between having sex and completely innocent. Take a hard look at what you really are and aren’t OK with. And then flip those roles around to make sure that any rules you want to apply to your gander will be good for you too, goose.
(And, while you’re doing all this thinking, what are you expecting from your bachelorette party? How crazy do you want things to get, and why? Are you just blowing off some steam with the girls? Are you hoping for a first stripper encounter? Some kind of last sexual hurrah? The more clearly you can wrap your head around your own feelings, the easier it will be to see your groom’s point of view, and to talk about both your parties calmly and fairly.)
Everyone’s boundaries are going to be different. I know one bride who happily sent her groom off with a kiss and a gentle “Look all you want – just don’t touch.” I know another who wouldn’t mind if her groom got an intimate lap dance from a stranger, but would lose her mind if he gave a closemouthed peck to a certain ex.
Are you OK with anything as long as you never have to know about it? OK with anything as long as you do know about it? Think it out, take a break, and then think it out again. Hey, look at how complex you are! That’s one of the reasons why your groom finds you fascinating.
Once you have your head clear, you may or may not still want to talk things out with Le Groom. If you do, get yourself to a point where you can talk about what you want and don’t want and even what you’re afraid of while staying completely calm. If the topic gets you upset, it’s a good idea to practice the conversation in your head. Imagine it going well, and imagine yourself staying completely calm, warm, and happy.
For real: No crying. Even if this is making you anxious. Crying will make your guy either drop what he really wants to comfort you or feel like you’re trying to manipulate him. Or both. And the idea here is to get an honest take on his thoughts so the two of you can figure out what you’re both OK with. So practice, smile, and stay calm like the confident and together chick you are.
When you’re ready to have The Talk, the one thing you shouldn’t do is announce that you need to have a talk. This will – at best – make your hunk curl up into a little armadillo ball.
And don’t try to launch the talk while he is watching something, doing his taxes, or using a circular saw. Trust me.
Your best bet is to do something mindless together – ideally something shoulder-to-shoulder. (Sitting and looking deeply into each other’s eyes may make him feel on the spot. Side-by-side reassures him that this talk is no big deal, and can help him feel more comfortable telling you what he really thinks.) Playing a not-too-strenuous video game is perfect, but walking the dog together is great too.
And now is when you become a blend of several different tricky things: Open, honest, fair, receptive, and calm. You can do this. Besides, the guy you’re talking with is pretty awesome, remember? He loves you and he’s already into the idea of just being with you for the rest of his life. This is just one night you’re talking about. So let him know what’s up with you, and then do plenty of listening. You’ll probably like what you hear.
Every guy is different. You know your groom best. You can probably start this conversation better than I can. When in doubt, go with direct but non-confrontational. Frame it in terms of the two of you coming up with something together so he doesn’t feel forced or constrained, and, again, lots of listening.
As much as I’ve built up this conversation, it’s probably going to be easier than you think. You and your hunkazoid have similar values or you wouldn’t be talking bachelor parties in the first place.
Good luck, have fun, and think twice before sucking tequila out of the navel of a pretend lumberjack.