Three young women who I work with are all engaged and excitedly involved in planning 2017 weddings. The giddy details of color swatches, save the date cards, and ceremony venues bubble through our office with the effervescence of champagne. I’ll admit it, I’m all girl. I am a sucker for looking at all the pictures of gorgeous gowns, Pinterest-worthy bouquets, and romantic photography poses. Weddings are magical and beautiful, no doubt.
I don’t have to stretch my imagination at all to wonder why these twenty-somethings clamor to the altar and to have their “special day.” Who doesn’t want to have a “princess-for-a-day” experience, some bling on her finger, or to join the ranks of the married?
My question is why do people want to get married anymore?
The wedding is just the wedding. It may take a year or two to plan, but it’s over in a day. For roughly half of the population, the photos that cost hundreds of dollars last longer than the marriage.
But, that’s just it? How many of these brides-to-be give much thought to the actual marriage?
Okay, I will grant that many of them fantasize about using that beautiful new Kitchen-aid mixer from their bridal registry in their imaginary marital home. Many probably daydream about the honeymoon, eventually buying a house, having some kids, and all of the life highlights that sell most of us on matrimony.
I have no doubt that the majority of brides and grooms have forever on their minds as they say “I do”, but how many have a realistic idea of how hard marriage can be and how long forever actually is?
I am not questioning the romance of it or true love. Even after two divorces I am still a believer in love! My pondering is why, when so many marriages continue to fail (even though the numbers are rumored to be improving), do couples continue to roll the dice on marriage?
Do most people believe themselves immune to the statistics, just as they also take chances not wearing a seatbelt, refusing vaccinations, or walking alone after dark?
Are altar bound couples more inclined to accept divorce as an alternative if the marriage isn’t successful?
No one that I know sugar coats divorce. You can see pretty raw and real depictions of it in your social media feed, in all forms of entertainment, on the news, and in so many of the people we know. Who the heck would want to take a chance at going through that? It’s as if we are all aware that walking through the lion’s den at the zoo in a Lady Gaga-style meat dress could result in catastrophic injuries, but we suit up and climb on in!
I have uttered the words that I wouldn’t wish divorce (especially with kids) on my worst enemy. It’s the worst!
Would I wish marriage on another (worst enemy or otherwise)? Yes, I still would.
(Disclaimer: it totally depends on who you are married to and the relationship!!!)
Let’s back the train up, though. I have the benefit of life experience to guide me through the decisions I make today related to matters of the heart and everything else. I still don’t know it all, by any means; but, I really believe it’s possible to have a very happy and successful marriage. It’s also very likely that any one of the three engaged ladies I mentioned will be planning her first wedding.
My advice to these brides-to-be, as well as anyone considering taking the plunge, is that it is a risk, not too different than skydiving or swimming with sharks. Very bad things can happen, but mostly if you’re unprepared or go into it blindly.
Of course we need to be incredibly selective about the partners we choose. We need to know them inside and out, we need to have those deep and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about every aspect of life so that you know you’re on the same page about finances, religion, kids, responsibilities at home and everything else! I’m not kidding- this is so very important and I don’t think enough people take this as seriously as they should. We tend to think that if we love someone we can fully trust them and that being in love is good enough to carry the weight of the relationship indefinitely.
We downplay the toll that time, stress, daily routine, kids, and responsibility will take on a relationship. These factors gradually chip away at the first blush of love until, if you’re not very proactive, there’s nothing left but lifeless routine and possibly even resentment. We have to keep dating our spouses, finding ways to remain connected, and continuing to grow with them. We all grow, we all change, so we have to be sure to do those things with our spouse instead of in different directions.
Despite all best efforts, some people will let us down, break our hearts, and betray us. Most of this can still be avoided by taking the time to really know what makes the other tick and keeping the binds of marriage tight; but, in any game of chance there will be winners and losers. The losses can be beyond devastating, but the wins can be just as amazingly fulfilling.
What I have come to know as a divorced woman is that even when our dreams fall apart, there’s a new one waiting in the ashes to take bloom. That dream might take any shape or form from being the most amazing mother, pursuing a dream career, becoming healthy, trying new things, or maybe even being a wife again. Although marriage is an exciting and often desirable thing that people readily enter into, divorce is not the “the end” of your story. Neither is divorce the intended path any of us initially strike out on, but it shouldn’t be considered a death sentence.
The power of love calls to each of us at one time or another. Few of us are able to ignore the lure and maintain permanent single status. Those who marry are not to be faulted for their decision just as those who find themselves needing to divorce should not. Whichever doors any of us choose to walk through in life we will be met with either positive or negative consequences. Some we can predict and others will knock us flat on our backs.
To my friends about to marry: live life, include love in that life, make dreams for yourself and with someone special, but also protect your precious hearts! Loving blindly is loving foolishly. Give your heart, but only to those deserving of the gift. Know what’s swimming in the water before you jump in, and be prepared to stand on your own two feet. Don’t form a union because you need another or to achieve completion, but rather because you choose to add someone to your world.
Marriage is a beautiful institution that should be protected and supported, but is also one of the most significant life decisions an individual could ever enter into. Marry at your own risk, knowing full well that it’s not just about a pretty dress and a party.