Surprises

[Some musings from just before and just after the wedding.]

When we first announced our wedding/impending marriage, what surprised me was the heartfelt wishes from many of my friends.

Some were sparing in their words. “Congratulations!” was a frequent word. I sometimes respond in the same way to such announcement from my friends. It is a simple word and it summarises the many thoughts that run through my head:

“Congratulations. I am happy for you. You deserve to be happy. I wish you well. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person.”

And then there are those who took the time to write a little more. Who told me that they were glad for me. That our story evoked a strong emotional response in them (one said she teared up – no, she’s not an ex!).

I came to realise that there are symmetrical friendships and asymmetrical friendships. A symmetrical friendship is one where each party feels approximately the same level of closeness and attachment as the other. So if you described the “friend” as an acquaintance, he or she would also describe you as an acquaintance.

An asymmetrical relationship is like unrequited love. One party feels a greater attachment than the other feels for him or her. However, I am also not a very emotional or demonstrative person. So besides asymmetrical friendship, there is also demonstrative discrepancy. This confuses me, somewhat. So we may actually have a symmetrical friendship – we both see the other as a good friend. But for me, a good friend is someone I can rely on and for whom I would help move (for example). However, I wouldn’t tear up if he were getting married. But if he would for my wedding, we have a “demonstrative discrepancy”. OK, that’s a little extreme, but it is just an example.

But that was why I was surprised. Those were either asymmetrical friendships, or friendships with demonstrative discrepancies. At least that is what I explained to myself.

An article I read had also explained that one unexpected effect is the responses wedding brings out in people. And I wondered if it were because of asymmetrical friendships, or demonstrative discrepancies.

The surprise arises from the discrepancy between your regular interaction with them, and their response.

PL is somewhat like me. She is not very emotional or demonstrative in public. She was also surprised by some reactions to her announcements. Some friends felt slighted that she kept our relationship secret from them. But we really did not feel it important to share. I think we value our privacy. We do not feel the need to share or over-share. And we keep our own counsel.

So she was surprised that she “lost” some friends. It is what it is.

It is usually at a wedding that you search deep in your social network to remember those people you think are important to your life (at some point or points) and invite them… even if you have not been in touch with them for some time. And it is reassuring that they can join you on an important day of your life. It reaffirms the high esteem you hold them.

But inevitably, some of your guests cannot come. They have their own lives anyway. It is… the way it is. Life is not perfect. It goes on. You go on.

Some may respond badly, or feel slighted for some reason, or feel that they had not been given the special treatment that they deserve. That is also part of life.

What has been a revelation is just how many people are important to me. My guestlist has grown steadily, even though I have ruthlessly tried to limit the number of guests.

A friend got married in June, and he and his wife ruthlessly trimmed their guestlist down to less than 50.

I guess I could, if forced to, try to name the 50 most important people in my life. or 25, since the 50 is to be shared between PL and me. But there would be so many more I would like to invite!

So I’ve about 90 friends I’ve invited. I want to invite more. And then I find I cannot properly meet and entertain them or enjoy their company.

Such  is life. Such is a wedding.

[edited 6 Jan 2014.]

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