Monday, November 7, 2011

Modern Day Marriage


a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage> b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage
: an act of marrying or the rite by which the married status is effected; especially : the wedding ceremony and attendant festivities or formalities

^^As defined by Webster's online dictionary.

I have been married for 44 days. In 33 days I will surpass Kim Kardashian's marital triumph. Little girls grow up dreaming of their wedding days. But how many little girls grow up dreaming of their marriage? 
In a world of Bridezillas, wedding dreams have achieved a hype that I was unaware of as a little girl. I rarely thought about my wedding. I knew I wanted to have it in my beautiful hometown church with its long, red carpeted aisle and shining stained glass windows. The church my grandparents and my parents had married in. It was the only way I could picture a wedding, from the photos I'd seen while rooting through dusty albums in the basement. 

Now, little girls can grow up watching TV shows and their various emphasis' on different aspects of the wedding day - from Whose Wedding is It Anyway, which carries the message that you absolutely must have a wedding planner if you want to even hope to have the "perfect wedding", to Four Weddings which not only publicizes these women's weddings, but subjects this personal rite of passage to judgment and competition. Little girls and not-so-little girls dream of bigger, better, brighter.

Real flowers are a must. The color combinations must be perfect and the napkins must match the exact shade of the roses must match the exact shade of the bridesmaid dress. Out of town bachelor and bachelorette extravaganzas are becoming more and more popular and friends must pay for them or be labeled uncaring cheapskates. Brides think that their bridesmaids must throw them a shower, sit through wedding dress shopping and bridal expos and be on hand for any kind of tedious labor such as helping with invitations or programs. Colors that are close enough no longer cut it. Anything but a wild last night out (even if it occurs weeks before the wedding) is lame. Showers are no longer a sweet gift to the bride and friendly proffered help has become an obligation. Of course, not everyone behaves like this, but the societal pressure on wedding days has blown all out of proportion.

We grew up as little girls thinking that one day our prince would come and we would live happily ever after.  A wedding day (at age sixteen of course) was the culmination of a woman's life, the beginning and the end of her fairy tale adventure, after which she melted away into obscurity... her destiny fulfilled. How incredibly grim.

When I was in my early twenties, I pressured my high school sweetheart into proposing. I still naively believed that fairy tales and Hollywood had it right, that if we had the perfect wedding then we would have the perfect marriage and all of our relationship problems would be solved. It soon became clear to me that he did not share my vision of the perfect wedding day, as he continually tried to insert monkeys and clowns into my cherry blossom and navy motif. One of my maids of honor validated my assertion that the bride should have final say on what a wedding day "should" look like, and she and I ran right over his desires and ideas, planning our perfect wedding day. And by "our", I mean mine and hers, as he had nothing to do with it.

I truly think that if that engagement had gone past the "ideas" stage I could have auditioned for a top spot on Bridezillas.

But it taught me something, when I looked back and regretted how I'd mocked his ideas and discounted his input (even though I'm pretty sure I'd still side-eye a clown at a wedding). I was so obsessed, so narrowly focused on planning the perfect wedding, that I had completely lost sight of what really mattered. Our relationship had been on the rocks for so long, I thought that if we could just have our happily-ever-after that everything wrong with our relationship would be magically fixed. In my head we were Ross and Rachel, Carrie and Mr. Big, Westley and Buttercup. Circumstances had put hurdles (occasionally barbed) in front of us, but the finish line was the alter and the reward was eternal happiness.

I don't know what finally brought me around. Maybe it was when my friend started discounting my ideas about what my wedding should be like. Maybe it was when my therapist asked me why I was still with him. Maybe it was when I finally noticed that the girls in movies and on TV don't take out their wedding plans to console themselves after yet another screaming match - the fourth that week - and wistfully wish for the day when they'd be married and everything would be ok. Whatever it was, reality finally set in, and that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

My husband and I did not have the perfect wedding. It was not in April during the Cherry Blossoms Festival. His grandparents could not come because they could not travel. It was not in the church that my parents and grandparents were married in. I had to cut 10 of my friends that I really wanted there from the guest list. I did not have a cascading bouquet of lilies and roses. The DJ played the wrong song for about 30 seconds when we were supposed to be starting our First Dance. Our photographs are beautiful, but I look at other brides' and sometimes think that theirs are better. My mom ruined what was originally my favorite picture of my husband and I by telling me it looks like there's a pole sticking out of our heads.

And above all, being married is not the best feeling in the world.

No, it's the same feeling that I've had for years now. That wonderful, warm, comforting feeling of love and consistancy that our relationship has settled into. When my husband asked me to marry him, I did not say yes because I thought it would change the way that we feel about each other or how our relationship works. I did not say yes because I thought it would make our relationship deeper or more loving. The wedding was a public announcement and celebration of what we already knew and had known for years: that we plan on spending the rest of our lives together.

"So how is it being married?"

About the same as before, but with new dishes*. And that's as it should be.

*Witty repartee first suggested to me by fellow Knottie BalletDawn. Thanks for making me look funnier than I am! =)

1 comment:

  1. I knew it! My friends ARE uncaring cheapskates! lol

    Awesome blog so far, Love! :)