A Conversation with Ginger Kolbaba

A Love that Lasts

Are you engulfed in wedding details? Ginger Kolbaba’s new book, Dazzled to Frazzled and Back Again, helps new brides deal with the emotional roller-coaster ride leading up to marriage and refocus their attention on their relationship with God and their fiance.

Ginger, when there are so many wedding planning books out there, what makes “Dazzled to Frazzled” different?

It’s not a wedding planning book. I think that’s the biggest thing that makes it different is that it’s really kind of a supplement to wedding planning books. It’s the book that’s gonna say, “All those wedding planning books are helping you make the perfect wedding.” It’s gonna tell you what point to order your invitations, what are the great colors and what to think about as far as receptions and when to do everything. My book comes along saying, “You’re not gonna have a perfect wedding.” And you can do all of those things, but these are the situations you need to be aware of so that you can get through those situations when you discover you’re not going to have a perfect wedding — and keep your sanity and keep going and still have a good wedding.

Speaking of expectations, how do you separate what’s realistic and what’s not realistic?

Your finances will help you greatly in that situation. If you want 1,000 people to come to your wedding and you have $1500 in your savings account, you’re not going to have 1,000 people at your wedding. Or you’re going to have an outdoor wedding with popcorn basically. (laugh)

But also what I call harnessing your inner bride. A lot of times this inner bride will show up and will say, “You have to have the best, you have to have the biggest. You’ve got to be the center of attention.” Get a harness on that inner bride, saying, “Okay this is what’s really realistic. This is what we can afford. This is what’s going to keep our focus on my fiance and on God.”

Is there such thing as a “perfect wedding?”

No. (laugh) In my mind, I thought I was going to have a perfect wedding and I think all brides do. But the reality is, there really isn’t a perfect wedding. But then on the other hand, there is a perfect wedding. If your fiance shows up, if you have an officiant, and you have the marriage license, then you’ve had a perfect wedding. Those are really the important things. Everything else, non-essentials. They’re nice, they’re like toppings on a sundae. But you have no sundae if you don’t have the ice cream.

You talk in the book about opinions. Everyone has an opinion. How do you handle an outside opinion that’s different from what you and your fiance have in mind?

There’s lots of good advice and there’s lots of really just tacky advice. I had a lot of both from a lot of people who weren’t even invited to the wedding. Everybody has an opinion. The thing that I really learned was that you want to honor those people. You still want to be gracious about accepting their opinion, while still having a boundary of knowing what you want. And if their opinion doesn’t fall into that boundary of what you want, then being able to say, “That’s a really interesting idea, I’m going to talk to my fiance about it. Thanks for sharing that with me.”

It’s not that they really want you to follow through on their advice or on their opinion. They just really want to be heard.

Sometimes brides go off the deep end. Big wedding, over budget. How do you keep perspective on what really matters?

Well, the wedding day is one day. And obviously, the marriage is the rest of your life. Most people tend to want to focus in on that one day and they kind of forget the rest of your life. One of the big problems with that is, as brides, we get so focused in on all the details, we tend to forget our fiance in the course of it.

What advice would you give to someone who’s planning a wedding, to help them achieve marital success? What kinds of things might they do before the wedding date?

I think the biggest one is to get right with God. The thing I like about weddings is that it’s an opportunity to start fresh. It’s an opportunity to say “Okay, the old is done, the new has begun.” And if you have a problem or an issue that you haven’t worked out spiritually, it’s like you’re dragging something behind you when you go into your marriage. And there can never be that freeness, that blessing that you would have. The other thing is really getting relationships right with other people. Forgiveness is a big one. The reality is when you get married it’s no longer just you, it’s you and your spouse. And your spouse is taking on the issues now that you have. And if you harbor bitterness or anger or jealousy or any of those things and if you haven’t really worked through them and processed them beforehand, you’re stepping into a marriage and you’re binding your spouse to that as well. And that’s an unfair thing to add to a marriage. Being sexually pure, I think, is a big one as well. If you have issues sexually, you’re gonna bring that into your marriage. Whether they’re good or bad, they’re still gonna come into your marriage and they’re gonna end up being baggage. Deal with those before you say “I do.”

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How do you discover what those issues of baggage are before marriage?

Premarital counseling. It’s a great way to do that, because it brings in an objective person who’s very interested in making sure your marriage is going to start off on the right foot and it’s going to stay on the right foot. That you’re not going to end up in a divorce court three years, five years down the road, seven years down the road. That premarital counselor will help you find things about yourself and about your spouse and help you really deal with issues on this side, so that once you say “I do” and get on to the other side, you at least know how to handle it. The chapter on “Sex and the Single Groom” has a different viewpoint on relationships. There’s a discussion about abstinence, of living arrangements and pornography. Why were these important topics for you to cover?

Because they’re going to effect your marriage. A very good friend of mine’s sister, before she got married, never asked the question, “How do you feel about pornography?” And she really wishes she would have, because her husband has an issue with pornography.

You can’t compare to women who are air brushed. You can’t compare to the perception of something that’s so wonderful and then somebody looks at you with the warts and all. You just can’t compare. You need to know walking in to that marriage, that that’s going to be an issue, and it’s not going to go away.

But also, as I talked about before, just sexual history that you have — you can be forgiven for things, but you can never get rid of the memories and you can never ever get rid of the regret.

Wouldn’t it be great to get to your wedding night and go, “This night is special.” If you’ve been sleeping with your fiance three nights before the wedding night, what makes that night special? Big whoop. You had a big party, you had a great dress on?there’s nothing special about that.

I would say, “Stop. As hard as it is.” If that means sitting down with your fiance and making out a list of things. “Okay, we’re not gonna be alone, we’re not gonna take naps together, we’re not gonna touch certain areas of our bodies, we’re not gonna do this, that or the other and we’re gonna be strong about this.” It will make your wedding night so much better. And it will make your marriage so much better, because you knew that there was a commitment there to each other.

Sometimes we hear about parents who have trouble letting go. How can a couple help each other with that “leaving and cleaving” thing?

That never goes away, I don’t think. I still deal with that. I have friends who’ve been married 14, 15 years and they still deal with that. That’s a part of life. But I think the tension is, we want to honor our mother and father. I mean, that’s a biblical thing. It’s one of the big ten.

And leaving and cleaving — it’s making a conscious decision that no matter what happens, I’m gonna put my spouse first. My spouse is gonna be the one that I give great news to first. My spouse is gonna be the one that I ask an opinion of first. My spouse is the one, that if I’m arguing, I’m gonna deal with him first before I go and tell mommy and daddy. And that’s hard, because mom and dad are obviously gonna be on your side.

Before we close, I just want to give you the floor. Anything else you want to add that you want our viewers to know about? Any extra advice?

Breathe a lot. Breathe and say, “I’ll get through it. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.” If something happens?if you get a rip in your dress, or you forget something or someone threatens to not come to the wedding, just really put all of those things in perspective and say, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” If at the end of the wedding day, you’re married, your wedding was a success.

Copyright © 2004 Growthtrac.

Check out Dazzled to Frazzled and Back Again

Ginger Kolbaba is managing editor of Marriage Partnership magazine, a publication of Christianity Today International. Ginger has been a columnist for Let’s Worship and has published more than 75 articles.

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