I got a message from a colleague who invited me to his wedding lunch banquet. He was marrying another colleague. I clarified if I were the only one invited or if I could bring PL and Z. I had assumed that it was a family invite, but it was right and proper to confirm. And he regretfully said it was just for me as there are space constraints.
I understand. I’ve heard from friends about how their invitees brought the whole family and screwed up the seating arrangements. And I understand when couples try to keep things small and things just balloon out of hand.
I’m so glad my wedding planning days are over.
Anyway, I wrote the couple an email and because I’m married, I thought I should give some advice about marriage.
Thank you for the invite, but regretfully, I will not be attending. Much regret unable to catch up with all.
And now the old man would like to ramble on. (You don’t have to pretend to read, and I won’t quiz you about the content if I bump into you.)
Congratulations on this monumental (emphasis on “mental”) decision and change in your life! Anyone who decides to get married must be crazy. But anyone who doesn’t must be stupid. So what would you rather be? Crazy or stupid?
(Spoiler alert: I went with crazy)
On your special day, just remember that a wedding is for a day, a marriage is for a lifetime. Whatever goes wrong on the wedding day will just be a memory to share and laugh about on your anniversaries (may you have many!) Everything that goes right, may eventually be forgotten. (or maybe it is the other way around?) Whatever it is, the strength of your marriage will not depend on the price of the wedding gown, the name of the designer, the venue of your wedding reception, or whether an old man (or whoever) turned up at your wedding or spouted nonsense in an email to you. Even now, the world is out to tear you apart (or at least it seemed that way when I was getting married). It is a test. A crucible of fire. Or crucible of financial stress. Same thing.
But you have each other and that is the most important thing for the rest of your life. Till death do you part. Which means no divorce. Only murder. (Why do we put these things in our wedding vows?!?!)
People may try to compare your marriage to others. Ignore them. You may try to do the same. Resist that temptation. People will try to give you advice (especially when you have children). Listen politely and treat it like the garbage it is. You answer to no one but each other. If (or when) you have a child (or children), you will parent the child with the needs of the child paramount. Not the needs of other parents who-do-not-matter-but-are-desperately-trying-to-correct-their-mistakes-as-parents-vicariously-thru-you. And of course you will make mistakes! All parents do. Think about your parents and the mistakes they made with you that made you turn out to be… you.
And you are the person, being married by your other. And of course there is the old joke about how men marry women thinking they would never change, and women marrying men planning to change them. Marriage will change you. Hopefully (and usually) for the better. It is called “growth”. It is, I think, the next step in your growth as a person. And approximately about a year later, whether you have mastered the lesson and grown as a person, there will be a pop quiz. Literally, if you name your first child “Quiz” (please don’t). Or “Pop” (also, don’t! but if you have twins, it is okay to call them “pop” and “quiz”.)
(okay, too far ahead and too presumptuous. Back to the wedding and how wonderful marriage is!)
Yeah. Marriage. Great stuff. Congratulations, and best wishes. May the years ahead bring you all the joy and laughter you can take, with some miseries, so you won’t be insufferable, and children, to keep you humble.
Yeah. That sounds about right.
[Update Dec 2017: From another blog
“This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.
It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.
It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet,
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.
And that’s all I know about love.”
And an excerpt from another article:
Strive for trust and stability, not excitement and adventure. That’s not to say you won’t have the latter. You will. But adventure and excitement are the reward you get for first achieving trust and stability.].