“I, Brown Socks, take you, Tinkerbell, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
Those are some great words. They make me cry every time.
Unlike most single, 30-something girls, I love weddings – the actual wedding ceremony, not the wedding reception. Sure, the wedding reception can be a fun night, with all the right ingredients: a worthy cause for celebration, beautiful people ready to party, food, booze and music. Yet somehow most wedding receptions are somewhat stilted affairs, weighed down by the limited mingling due to seating arrangements, speeches, first dances, more speeches, bouquet and garter tosses and speeches. Oh, and the speeches. It’s hard for party to really take off when there is a scripted schedule to adhere to. Nevertheless, wedding receptions are rarely terrible, because a room full of people waiting to celebrate their friends/family’s milestone is never a bad thing.
What I love is the actual wedding ceremony. Witnessing the vows.
Those vows are incredibly intimidating- even the standard definition of the word “vow” on Google is daunting. Because they are so encompassing, it is difficult to find two people willing to undertake that level of commitment with each other. Believe me, I know. I’m still at the stage where I’m amazed if I make it to a 2nd date, because most of the time I don’t make it to the end of a conversation. It blows my mind to that two people can get to the point of wanting to spend their lives with each other.
I’ve only been once in love. After years together and several months discussing marriage, he admitted that couldn’t bring himself to undertake that commitment with me. That hurt. I watched my father stay by my mother’s side through 30 years of relentless “in sickness”. I consider his behaviour the most honorable and brave thing I have ever witnessed. I’ve seen the wreckage in my friends’ lives when those vows are broken and a divorce happens, much to their own dismay. That scares me. I’ve seen married family members navigate strained years only to pull through, radiating love and happiness. That inspires me.
Marriage is hard, everyone knows that. It requires bravery & faith & luck – to get to the starting line and to finish the race. Those are 3 attributes which are foreign to me.
I don’t hate weddings, despite my single state. I love them. They remind me of why it is worth it to spend a fortune in therapy, to bother going on blind dates, to grow comfortable with the excruciatingly uncomfortable state of vulnerability when it is so tempting to chuck everything and become a cat-less cat-lady. They remind me of what is at stake. When I look at my friend Brown Socks and his beautiful wife Tinkerbell, my heart aches for them, because I know that the Universe will throw them some curveballs, like it did my parents. Yet I am proud of them for embracing vulnerability and love and deciding to face those curveballs together. There is a heroism to facing everyday life, and marriage seems like the most heroic thing of all to undertake.
Also, the chance to wear a fancy dress. SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!
Bonus: for those of you who haven’t heard of the amazing tumblr feed #myfriendsaremarried check it out NOW.
And your fancy dress for Brown Socks’s wedding was very fancy and lovely indeed! And I’m sure they’ll take those curve balls and hit them back out of the park…well, as long as Brown Socks lets Tinkerbell win an argument every once in a while!
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Dear June, my parents were married 68 years, my parents in law 62 and seeing them saying their farewells when death was separating them, was an example of profound love. The acceptance of blessings and difficulties as part of married life and the will to arrive to the last minute with a simple and complex sentence … “I love you”. Love is a work of art… It takes a lifetime to produce. A send you a big hug.
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Even when I was single, I loved weddings. Other people’s happy coupledom never made me feel jealous or unhappy. However, I never thought I’d get married myself. You’re right: the vows are incredibly intimidating and because I’m religious, marriage (for me, at least) is about making the vows before God, (Just to be clear: I don’t judge, or impose my personal expectations, on anyone else’s marriage. Nor do I feel that marriage should be limited to the man+woman paradigm.) But for me, I never thought I could be so sure of someone that I would vow “til death do us part, before God”. What if they change? What if I change? Long-term monogamy was fine, I could do that. But “marriage” (after seeing the example of my own parents who stayed staunchly married even though my father was a verbally/emotionally abusive bully) was a commitment I could never make, And then I met the man who would become my husband. We met online (back when there was more of a stigma attached) and it *wasn’t* one of those “I knew as soon as I met him, love at first sight” sort of things. But I liked him, and we became good friends first, and then a couple, and fell in love. The relationship survived even though I took a job more than an hour away. About 6 months in, he suffered from a very sudden, serious detached retina that required emergency surgery. I canceled my vacation trip to NYC and hurried to the hospital. I sat by his bed pre- and post-surgery and helped keep his spirits up. There was a chance he might lose his sight in one eye and that’s when it hit me: I want to spend the rest of my life with this man. I want to take care of him. It doesn’t matter if he ends up blind in one eye, or both eyes, or becomes disabled or develops a terminal illness, I would love him through all of it. And I have 0 doubt in my mind that he would do the same for me. I could even make that ultimate promise before God. This is quite possibly the only man I could ever consider marrying.
We didn’t get engaged until a year and a half later, and then married a year after that. The good news is the surgery went well and he didn’t completely lose the vision in that eye. We have been through many rough & scary times (illness, more detached retinas & eye surgeries, and the year when we lost four close family members over the span of about 9 months). But mostly it’s been happy, and fun, and always loving. It’s a sort of miracle to me that anyone could see me at my most vulnerable (and he has seen me at my absolute worst, curled up on the floor, sobbing like a child, temporarily inconsolable & incapacitated) and still think I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread.
This is the sort of love I wish for you. I hope that you find it, or it finds you, very soon,
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