That special day has finally arrived. RSVPs are now place cards. Chairs in white slip covers with blue satin sashes are poised at the eight tables of…no, make that TEN tables of eight. Okay, those extra two tables set you back a car payment, but who cares, your wish-fulfillment at Bed Bath and Beyond is complete.
The long-standing tradition of chattel vow exchange is about to seal the deal of a lifetime. All of a sudden, it’s real. In one solemn moment of adult behavior your world will never be the same. It’s the stuff of dreams!
One last line dance with the out-of-town guests and you’re home free. HONIEMOON! (Yeah, that’s the way I spell it.) Destination-FOREVER! That’s right. Wait, no it isn’t. What was that statistic? “Not me! I mean us. We’re in love.”
Let me break it down for you. Sex isn’t love. Expectation isn’t love. Control isn’t love. What’s love got to do with it? NOTHING. EVERYTHING. Yeah, it’s one of those truths wrapped in a conundrum, wrapped in a paradox, wrapped in a fat-free, gluten-free tortilla.
Love is like…hang on, let me choke on this, it’s like…okay, love is like NOTHING you’ve ever experienced before AND once you do, it is EVERYTHING. Yuck! That just makes me gag. Here’s why. Poets and lovers spouting that blather have caused all of the suffering in the world. That’s right; I said ALL of the suffering. It’s true. We want love, we suffer. We love, we suffer. We lose love, we suffer. It’s undefinable. It’s indescribable. It’s that simple.
Now for the big gun – Marriage – what can be said that hasn’t already been said freakin’ 500 MILLION-BILLION times? To quote Professor Henry Higgins, “Your joys, your woes, your highs, your lows – they’re second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in.” That is pretty much it in a nut shell. Most of the time one or both of you may feel like you’re in a nut shell. Sure, there are events in between, pregnancy, major appliance purchases, Pre-K graduation, kindergarten graduation, elementary graduation, middle school, high school, and God willing, college graduation, mortgage burning parties – oh scratch that, nobody does that anymore – to fill the days of your lives with stress pride and joy.
When the dust settles, you realize that all of the books, movies, songs, well-meaning relatives, Oprah proclaimed self-proclaimed experts, and Thursday night line-up of “family programming” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Marriage, no matter if we believe it is a sacred union, an outdated social convention or a scheme to keep Martha Stewart Everyday in business, is a remarkable testament to the dedication that two (or twelve) people have for each other. It is a commitment. Commitment. There’s an over-used, over-analyzed word that is fraught with anxiety. Fear it, embrace it, make it, break it, it matters not one bit. Am I saying it isn’t important? No. What I am saying is that it is just a word. The only person who can know for sure if you’ve made one is you. The law is for lawyers and deluded darlings. Get married in a church if it will give you the peace of mind that no man can put asunder your commitment. You can get the same thing if you go to Vegas. (Confiscate iPhones before the bachelor party.) If you don’t understand the meaning of the word AND, as in “for better AND for worse,” then the word commitment isn’t your biggest problem.
Marriage is many things. An institution or cause for institutionalization. A tie that binds in-laws, out-laws and crazy-ass psychos all over the planet. Something old, something new, something excruciatingly painful to endure with the wrong person, something blissfully rewarding when you get it right. Knowing that those seem to change on alternating Wednesdays can keep things in perspective. It is all-consuming of time, energy, and imagination, as well as pride, patience and health & beauty products. It is frustrating, demanding, energizing, and at times, can cause spasms of delight. (Who knew?)
I believe it comes down to this: Jump off a cliff or stand still while someone drops an anvil on your head. Wear a white shirt or go on a picnic. It’s all nonsense. The idea that a marriage is anything other than what you make it or that there is a formula, code or secret to a happy, healthy one is nonsense to the nth degree. I can count the people I know who got it right the first time on one hand. Not my parents, not my husband’s parents. Hell, neither of us are even included in that count. Take it from a 20 year survivor; the best is always yet to come!
Or at least there better be some damn good cake!