Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Marriage


"Marriage is not a noun, it's a verb. It isn't something you get, it's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day." -Barbara De Angelis
 
 

 Nine months have already passed since my wedding—a living example of the phrase “time flies.” My husband and I opted to have a smaller affair last May, with plans for a bigger fĂȘte either this year or next. When my then-fiancĂ© and I first started planning our big day, our sights were set on a grandiose affair with all of our family and extended family, plenty of friends and friends of friends and so on. But it didn’t take long for us to realize – partly due to how stressed I became – that bigger isn’t always better and a more intimate event might be more our thing. After all, we’ve always been acutely aware that spending exorbitant amounts of money on the wedding doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage. 


(A smaller event would also allow us to have it sooner rather than later, something I wanted so my great aunt, who I’d been close to and was suffering from Alzheimer’s, could attend. I’m infinitely glad we made it happen when we did instead of waiting until this May, because she passed away in December. I’ll cherish the photos and that day even more so as a result.)


 According to weddingstats.com, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was close to $29,000. Some are much more than that of course, and we have a friend whose nuptials cost around $70,000.

As for us, we set our sights on a price tag much lower, and I’m thrilled with the event we planned. “Neither the size of your diamond, nor the extravagance of your wedding will make your marriage last. That takes something money cannot buy.” I wish I knew who said this quote, because it’s absolutely true.



From the beginning, my husband and I agreed that happiness in a relationship isn’t something to be determined by the number of gifts you give each other—particularly on Valentine’s Day—or the size of the parties you throw. It’s true of course, that how you act in public says something about your relationship, but the meat tofu and potatoes (I’m vegan) is built behind closed doors, away from status updates and filtered photographs and expectations to behave in a certain manner; the foundation is built brick by brick as two people share each joy and work through each struggle together.

To us, a wedding is supposed to focus on that, and the decision to continue building and repairing and expanding and maintaining that foundation for the rest of our lives, through good times and bad.  But at some point, and thanks I’m sure to the $48 billion wedding industry, that focus has shifted for many couples; the day has become more about a party and whether or not the wedding is good enough to make it into a bridal magazine and less about a relationship and the—hopefully—lifelong journey as husband and wife that begins after the wedding. 




I’ve established before that I have a love for Disney that could rival any five-year-old’s, but I know the company has received flack over the years for their use of the famous final line “and they lived happily ever after,” which usually takes place shortly after a festive wedding scene. This is because really, the wedding is the beginning not the end, and whether or not the lovebirds will in fact live happily ever after is determined by the scenes that aren’t shown; it’s determined by the work they do—or do not—put in once the vows have been said and the champagne’s all gone and crazy Aunt Polly has returned to Florida.

I don’t mind the films ending the way they do. I suspect the tale would lose some of its luster – and much of the audience – if it went on to depict stories about the mundane along with the marvelous and the inevitable bad times along with the good that are sure to follow. But I also know the difference between fiction and reality. And in reality, each “mundane” and each “marvelous,” and each bad time and good—and how the couple handles them—become a thread in the tapestry of their marriage.



My husband and I had a lovely affair last May with a mixed Christian/Hindu ceremony (an ode to both our faiths), that that we’ll always look back on fondly. But even more than the few hours that made up our wedding, we’re enjoying all that’s already come in the few short months we’ve been Mr. & Mrs., and all that’s sure to come as we continue adventuring through this life together. We’ll be working for the title “lasting couple” like my grandparents earned, along with celebrity pairs like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

My grandparents were married in 1942 and remained together until the good Lord called them home.  And as for Newman and Woodward, both seemed to know just what a lasting marriage requires: Newman once said the secret to marriage was “both patience and affection,” and Woodward was quoted as saying, “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day – ah – now that’s a real treat.”

                
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