Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happily Ever After

Yesterday I was given the distinct honor of being a bridesmaid in my dear friend's wedding. It was lovely and they are such a good couple. To say I am incredibly happy for them is an understatement.

The whole thing got me thinking about love, commitment and togetherness. (I turn into such a sap at weddings!) With a divorce rate at above 50%, I sometimes wonder why people even bother. I mean if I had a 50% survival rate when I boarded and airplane, I'd find another mode of transportation. But then this Negative Nancy mentality was forced into a flowing blue dress and amazing silver shoes and dragged to the church. As Angela and Gary exchanged their vows, Negative Nancy took a seat. Marriage is so beautiful and such a human experience. Did you know it actually predates written history? I'd never really thought about it. It makes sense. And it made Nancy think that perhaps she's wrong about the marriage thing. If it has worked for so long, maybe it is the collective mentality of our generation that is the problem.

Marriage is a sense of comfort, a source of strength, a partnership and a bond. I look at all of the successful, long-lasting marriages that surround me and I really appreciate the effort it takes to make them work. My grandparents were married for 59 1/2 years when my grandmother passed away. Can you imagine that? I know not every moment was blissful, but they made it work. They raised five kids, adored nine grandkids and now their legacy continues as their great-grandchildren are coming into the world.

Anyway, to Negative Nancy I ask: what do numbers mean in matters of the heart? Love is a wonderful, beautiful thing. Marriage is an extension of that. And anything that starts with a huge party that includes champagne, cake and dancing can't be half bad.

I became a divorce statistic a few years ago. I was devastated and embarrassed. But rather than my faith in the institution of marriage being shattered, it was strengthened. Love isn't enough for a marriage. It is a wonderful foundation, but there is so much more that is required to make it last.

In the book I'm reading right now (posted about here), Ghosh proposes to Hema and her response is "Yes, but only for a year." She goes on to explain "We have the option to renew for another year." When I first read that, I was appalled. Marriage cannot be for a year. Marriage is supposed to look like my grandparents' marriage. There was no opt out clause. It isn't a lease.

But then as the book progressed, I saw the wisdom in Hema's plan. She knew that people change and circumstances change. I don't think she ever intended to dissolve the marriage after a year, but the condition on the contract made each of them work a little harder in the marriage. They couldn't allow themselves to become complacent or take the other for granted. I think this is what successful marriages do. They may not overtly place the "only for a year" condition on the marriage, but they have the mentality that each of them needs to continue wooing the other.

Marriage is not the end of the courting process, it is the very beginning.

(The image at the top is from this great website. Had I found it a few weeks ago, my gift to Angela and Gary would have been the print in a lovely frame. I love it!)

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