Weddings and Marriages

What comes to mind when you hear the word “wedding”? Most of us still think about brides in beautiful long white dresses, with gauzy veils, carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers, surrounded by several close girlfriends as her bridesmaids, all dressed in identical pastel colors and smiling happily at their friend who’s ready to walk down the aisle in a flower-filled church or other romantic setting. We picture the groom, nervous in his rented tuxedo, surrounded by his friends in their rented tuxedos, anxiously waiting as the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father. Vows are exchanged and the two promise to love each other until “death do we part”. There’s an amazing tiered wedding cake the two of them cut, feed each other a piece (hopefully not smashing it into each others’ faces) and then leave on a magical honeymoon.

And then it’s happily ever after. Right?

Or does that exist only in storybooks and fairy tales?

What is “happily ever after” anyway? Is it what little girls read about in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty where the handsome prince sweeps his lady love off her feet and they live together forever in total wedded bliss, with a perfect home, perfect kids, and no worries ever?

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

But marriage is a lot more than having a perfectly planned and coordinated wedding. Once the dresses are put away, the tuxes returned, the wedding cake eaten, and the honeymooners return from their trip, then the marriage really begins.

And as much as you love your spouse, you begin to realize that the marriage is a lot harder than the wedding ever was. Planning a wedding can certainly be stressful, because you want everything to go perfectly. (And there’s almost always a little glitch that almost no one except the wedding coordinator notices.) But no one ever stops to think about planning the marriage. That is, planning what happens after all the wedding festivities are over and the real life together begins.

In reality, marriage is a lot more difficult than planning or coordinating any wedding!

For a number of years I was very much involved in wedding planning and coordinating. It was a lot of fun, and each one was different, each couple had their own definite ideas about what their wedding should entail, and each one had little glitches that happened at the last minute that we had to handle. One couple had a heavy metal band playing the Wedding March, which raised many eyebrows among the guests. One bride was adamant about certain family members not being allowed at the reception. One bride tried to add a bridesmaid the day of the wedding. One wedding entailed three groomsmen being almost an hour late for the ceremony, setting our time schedule in turmoil. One wedding involved the bride’s shy 5 year old son walking her down the aisle, and having to have a backup plan in case the young man got scared at the last minute (he didn’t and happily walked his mom down the aisle!).

All of these weddings came off perfectly to the guests. No one knew what went on behind the scenes, except those of us involved in the coordination.

But during one of the planning sessions for one of the couples, I distinctly heard the words, “don’t be so concerned about the wedding; be concerned about the marriage”. And those words weren’t aimed at just that couple, because I heard them several other times planning several other weddings. And before you begin to think it was because the marriages were possibly destined for failure, that was not the case at all. In fact, for all of the weddings I coordinated during that time, all of the couples are still together, and their marriages, although not without ups and downs, are still going strong.

On the contrary, the Lord obviously told me that statement to remind me that marriage is a lifelong process. Although the actual wedding may take months to plan, the actual event lasts only a day. The marriage is supposed to last a lifetime.

Good advice, but as a wedding coordinator I’d never thought about it that way.

Most couples don’t either. They’re more concerned about everything being “perfect” for their big day. They don’t stop to think about what happens after the celebrations and parties are over; when reality…life…sets in.

The truth is…marriage is not always easy. It takes a lot of work. The honeymoon was great. Your life as a couple is all brand new and fun; there’s no worries, no hassles. You’re on vacation, and vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing.

But then you return, and suddenly, you realize you’re married! This is it! And when the first thing goes a bit wrong in your relationship you immediately wonder “Did I make a mistake? Isn’t it all supposed to be happily ever after? What’s wrong?”

Nothing is wrong. You’re just learning to live together as a married couple. And there are going to be hard times as well as good times. Fun times as well as angry times. You’re still two individuals with your own opinions and your own ideas, but now you have to mold those ideas into one plan, one life. And both of you have to learn to adjust to each other. That doesn’t happen overnight; it takes years. My husband and I have been married almost 32 years, and we’re still learning. It’s a lifetime of learning.

All marriages start out with the idea of how perfect we are for each other; how much in love we are; and how great our life is going to be. But as daily life sets in, we can lose that perspective. Because a good marriage is hard work, and our human nature doesn’t always want to deal with the difficult.

Does every marriage have a happy ending? Unfortunately not. For many reasons. I can say this because my first two marriages didn’t last. They were weddings, but the marriage part, well, I won’t go into the reasons. But I can also add that my husband Ben and I have been married for almost 32 years. Has it always been easy? No. Of course not.

But if you love your spouse, isn’t it worth it to make that extra effort? Everything that’s worth having, worth keeping, is worth that extra effort it takes to keep your marriage as happy as you were the day of your wedding. Sometimes even happier!

After all, a wedding only lasts for a day; a marriage should last a lifetime.

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