Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Happiest Day of Your Life

I've noticed an interesting trend.  It's not really a new one in a way.  I mean if you think about it it's been a myth for a long time that the wedding day is the 'happiest day of a woman's life'.  We put a lot into that day.  We've got the flowers, the look, the dress, the ring, the food, the cake (yes that's different than the food believe me), the wedding party, the parents, the in-laws  the family, the guest list, the seating arrangement, the entertainment, the style, the colour... the list goes on.  Seriously, it's insane how much time and effort goes into that one day.

I've been thinking about why romance dies when we get married and I think part of it has to do with the whole 'happiest day in my life' sensation around weddings.  They're definitely sensationalized far past what they used to be.  You bet they're a celebration and yup, they should be pretty darn happy, but here's the thing.  When it comes down to it, it's only one day.  So what if those flowers aren't just right?  Who cares if you gain a pound or two and your dress is a little tight or you go the other way and it's loose?  There are so many things that can (and probably will) go wrong with something as highly coordinated and detailed as we have made weddings to be.

They're also stressful.  Few people talk about it, you've got two families, possibly meeting each other for the first time ever who have to get along.  You've got internal clashes, feuds or general dislike in the individual families already and if you're lucky to have families that already know and like each other, so much the easier for you, but most people don't.  You're trying to make sure everyone gets along and everything goes exactly right and on top of it all you're hoping that the person who will be standing across from you saying their vows is the right person for you because otherwise you might be going through all of this just to end up apart from the person you think you love.

Assuming you've got the perfect vision and you're somehow able to make that vision come true right down to the tiniest detail and the miraculous happens and everything also turns out right, you might have a perfect day.  Here's the fun part, none of that makes it the happiest day of your life.

Surprised?  We hype up the connection of two people before marriage in the romance genre.  It's the fun, heart pounding part of a romance.  It's the part that culminates in either sex (which is a popular end result in secular romances) or marriage (which does seem to be more popular with Christian romances).  Here's the thing, quite frequently in both cases, that's where the story ends.  Even in fairy tales that's all anyone ever really talks about.  That's fine and dandy, I've mentioned before the idea that it's boring once you're together in a 'romance' sense.  Ironically though I find that it has nothing to do with making that day happy.  If we were to judge wedding days as an ending, nothing going on after it it would be a wonderful culmination of all things finally coming together.

Here's the best part.  My husband and I went to a wedding this weekend, we just caught the last little bit when the couple was dancing.  I was standing with my hubby at the back of the hall, his arms around me and mine around his and I looked up at him and thought, "The day I married you was the happiest day of my life."

Cliche right?  Yes and no.  People say it was the happiest day of their life, but they never explain the complexities of what it means when they feel it.  When I felt that it was the happiest day of my life it was a thought and a feeling that had hundreds of little moments embedded in them.  It was every moment we fought and then made up, making our marriage stronger.  It was every touch, caress and kiss that told me he loved me from the moment we were married forward.  It was rolling over in bed and finding him there and being so pleased and happy to do so that warm fuzzy feelings fill you.  It was going out and doing things together, staying home and hanging out, it was cooking together, making meals for each other or surprising each other with something to tell the other person that they'd been thought of and were loved.  That one tiny thought had all these things wrapped up in it and was so poorly expressed by that too oft heard phrase.

Why the wedding day?  Well that was the day that our lives were officially and permanently joined together for the rest of our lives.  It was the day a commitment was made, that the things felt were made real and that we promised to work at our relationship forever.  To be together until death did us part in all things.  Meeting him was the first step, it was great and wonderful and I'll tell you about it in a different post maybe, but it was still uncertain, fraught with difficulty because nothing was sure.  The day we got married things became sure and I don't care if you want to throw divorce stats at me (go ahead, I've heard most of them) because I know two things without doubt.

1. Regardless of what happens in our lives that might take us apart, the day that we got married, for better or worse our lives were joined.  Even if (and I do pray that it doesn't) something were to happen that pulled us apart, our lives would still in many ways be joined.  In part because of the experiences we shared and would continue to share and in part because once joined with a person like that you can never really be rid of them, even if it's only in your mind.  Divorce is just the words on paper.  It doesn't take the other person out of that place in you that will always be theirs.

2. Marriages are not the end to romance.  They're not the end to the adventure at all, they're only opening another chapter in our lives together.  No matter what adventures we go on, no matter where life takes us, I know that so many things that I have shared and will share will be with him.  I want them to be with him and I will work with every ounce of my being to make sure that this marriage works out, exactly as I trust him to do as my partner and best friend.  I know we'll face hard times and we already have, but so long as we make sure that we always continue to get to know each other in all facets and accept each other as fully as is capable for two separate beings to do?  Well, that's pretty dang close to a happily ever after if you ask me.

It might not be much fun for readers in a book to read about people who always work things out, but I think we've done ourselves a disservice by only reading and only writing romances that talk about the 'first stage' of romance.  What might we be missing by devaluing a deeper stage of love and romance that would carry us through not only the first stages of relationship leading to marriage, but through that day and beyond?

The happiest day of your life doesn't have to be just a day, but you can attribute a lifetime of happiness as a result of one action.  I have with my husband and I strive to grow and to love him more every day and to never forget that he is worth every moment of my time and effort to love and romance as much as he does for me.  It's worth the effort and I will happily spend the rest of my life making certain that my wedding day was indeed the happiest decision I've ever made in my life.

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