Let’s be candid. --I am an amazingly beautiful, smart, and talented woman, to be sure ;-) but tell me my husband doesn’t tire of waking to my stale breath every morning, my eyes full of crud, or the way my razor stubble has chafed his leg in the middle of the night? As someone who has been “joined” to the same man for over a decade, I confess that marriage is hard--I have never committed to anything tougher--and keeping myself satisfied and yet challenged, and the relationship stable but passionate is next to impossible for me. Often. So my husband and I try to focus on the long-term, overlooking the fluctuation of moods which swing wildly. Funny that this is where we are on our journey, not a place most engaged couples imagine when they are busy making their joyful plans for the wedding—the biggest event of their lives.
No doubt, weddings are big business and they have birthed even more industry—new occupations like wedding planners and event coordinators. Italian-designer lace dresses, hot-house orchid bouquets, airplane-hanger receptions, gourmet cakes and caterers, all of these details add to the dramatic machine it too frequently becomes, not to mention the exorbitant cost. (Who knows? Maybe marriage wouldn’t be such a letdown in its unglamorous day-to-day if it wasn’t preceded by all this hype and the huge expenditure so we can feel like movie stars for a day.) Needless to say, pretty as they are to have on video for perpetuity, weddings do nothing to prepare us for marriage. A party is not a relationship.
And I should know because Steve and I had not one but two weddings. The first was as exciting in its secrecy as the second was frustrating (my mother fussing over the shade of red in the cloth napkins and the wine selection, one of my bridesmaids having a meltdown in the restroom) but fulfilling to share tradition and to celebrate with family and friends. The first time Steve and I didn’t just elope, we got married in Las Vegas at a studio-set like chapel in the exquisite MGM hotel. (Steve even surprised me with a lavish bride-to-be trip to the spa, salon nails, pedicure and my amazing updo setting him back $600.) But do you know, as he and I took those last precious steps of singlehood to the ceremony, each more dressed up than either of us had been in a lifetime, walking to that chapel to be wed, some strangers sitting in booths in the mall area inside the hotel yelled to us, “Run! Don’t do it! It’ll be the worst mistake of your lives.” Nice send off into bliss, no? And then with no friendly faces in attendance (we had to pay two staff--witnesses--to sign the marriage certificate) all we had ringing in our ears as we entered the sanctuary to become an “us” was the wisdom of those unknown wellwishers.
I say this because it’s true. That really happened, but if that is disconcerting then it is only fair that I share with you what came next, although there is no way to convey (to the uninitiated) what that man and this woman exchanged in a look. The hecklers didn’t dent our happiness because love held us aloft, high above their curses. We were untouchable. There were bells and we were on the hill ringing them. Hell, no, we were the bells. All I can say, with great understatement, is that the way my husband looked at me when he claimed me for his own and vowed his eternal love has kept me close by his side to this day. His was a soul-gaze of unspeakable joy. And passion. –And that made me feel like a “princess,” not the dress, not the gifts, not the frosting. That perfect moment is mine. It belongs to us. It is part of our great history.