A marriage is a contract. We apply contract law. We define the parties and the terms, we plan for both success and failure, and then we move forward.
A wedding is a celebration to recognize the elevation of a relationship from casual to committed status. We celebrate with people we hope will help us maintain that commitment over time. They are called on to be both witnesses and participants.
I have struggled with the whole wedding thing and have come to realize that (in addition to the fact that I am a lousy party planner) I have shied away from being the bride because of my lack of enthusiasm for playing the role of Bride.
My feelings about being a wife are quite different, though. My heat´s desire has been to find someone to call husband and who would call me wife. I have shed tears of grief over not finding that. Shed tears of loneliness. Wondered if there were something fundamentally wrong with me, that I lacked something that made me worthy of the status of Wife.
Mike´s death really broke me in that regard. He died in his sleep the very night before we were supposed to have a weekend away to make plans for the futre, plans for how we would enmesh our lives together. I was finally going to tell him what I wanted (he had waited so patiently for me to put the words together). He loved me and was so excited for us to talk. So was I. Those words that I waited so long to speak have hung over me since then.
Time marches on, though, and life is for the living of it. Eventually I looked up and hoped again to find someone to fill that space labeled ´Husband´, someone whose eyes would light up when drive up the driveway. Some one who was home to me, and for whom I was his home also.
The fact that now, here, I am lamenting this whole wedding business is a dead giveaway that I have found what I was looking for. And yes, thank you, he was definitely worth the wait.
So, weddings. Maybe I just dislike being the center of attention. A bride would not be able to ghost out when she tired of the hubbub because for a wedding, the bride is the hubbub. Ugh. I struggle not to sound like a grumpy old man, yet when it comes right down to it I only enjoy parties in small doses. So, being the bride? Gack.
On the more introspective side of this, maybe my reticence is due to a general feeling of irrelevancy within my family. To them I am the cautionary tale. Any attempt on my part to be successful is met with skepticism instead of well wishes. This, despite the fact of… well… reality. For instance, I completed master of science degree. That means I finished a bachelor´s degree as well. Been gainfully employed since two days after I turned 16 except for my stint as a stay-at-home mom when I had 4 kids under the age of 6. Raised those 4 kids single handedly, with dedication and perseverance and a sense of humor and adventure. Received awards for volunteering and been on the board of a large volunteer organization in Green Bay. Obviously, there is data to show I am a decent person.
And yet, I am still somehow less-than in the eyes of my immediate family and that has played out sadly in my life. No offer to celebrate the completion of my master´s degree. Not one baby shower. Half my family did not even come to Mike´s funeral, which was the second most traumatic event in my life to date.
The first most traumatic event revolves around child sexual trauma, which is either the kernel from which this neglect/lack of empathy/refusal of kindness comes from, or it is the situation that dramatically defines it. Either way, there it is… an unacknowledged elephant in the room, always invisible yet causing great consternation as we work continuously to maneuver around it.
My Husband-in-waiting comes from a similar neglectful upraising, having been taken as a very young child out of a terrible family situation and transported to a careless foster system on the other side of the country. We are cut from the same cloth, he and I. We spook emotionally at the same things and we both desire to move on and live happily despite them. He is beautiful, a perfect mate and best friend, better than I could have ever hoped for (and he says the same of me!).
As much as I am excited and happy to become Wife to him and for him to be Husband to me, this whole wedding thing has me in a quandary. I want my fishing buddies to come, but other than that I am kind of meh about family. I ask myself who, in the long run, would I turn to for advise about being married? And the names that come to mind are Gary, Heidi and Mr. Mustache (lol, Brian). Robyn. Even Paul. But not my fractured, broken family. So why am I so bent out of shape over their role in the wedding?
Obviously, I need to just do this. Plan the party and have fun celebrating with my friends and with whatever family decides to come. Maybe I can hire Evelyn to be my wedding planner… She throws awesome parties… and her food is divine.
Let´s make this fun! Why not? Life is to be lived fully and with everything we have in us. Not to be feared or dreaded. Time to plan a party!