We spent Friday afternoon and evening at one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever seen. Our niece Brooke married Alex, her boyfriend of eight years. They seem almost magically happy, and Bill and I, of course, wish them both a very joyful life together.
At one point in the wedding reception, the DJ invited all married couples out onto the dance floor. To the tune of a very familiar 1970s song (that I now can’t remember), we began to dance. And then the DJ said, “Will anyone who has been married for less than two days please leave the floor.” Brooke and Alex left, but were, obviously, the only ones. He went on, “Will those who have been married less than two years please leave the floor.” A few couples left. The DJ went on and on, until he finally said, “Will those who have been married less than 18 years please leave the floor.”
I looked around and saw that Bill and I were the only couple left on the floor, something that didn’t surprise me at all given the people who had attended the wedding. We are ready to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.
The DJ then handed us the mic, and asked us to give the newlyweds a piece of advice. Bill suggested that they love each other with all of their hearts every day of their lives. Lovely. I was more practical, and advised them to pick their battles.
Because there will be battles. Life rarely runs as smoothly as one would hope. Shit happens.
Here’s an example: Amidst all of our joy for Brooke and Alex, something very sad took place. Jen’s ex-husband passed away very suddenly. Jen’s children — Maggie and B.J. — were devastated, as you would imagine. God, in his very familiar way, reminded us of the continuum of life. People die and children are born. People get sick and two people join their lives together. The joys and the sorrows are intermixed in all of our lives.
It’s pretty darn easy to stay in love during the joyful times. But real love is tested — and hopefully survives — during difficult times. Better or worse. Richer or poorer. In good times and in bad.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a marriage will fail. I, frankly, am astounded that any survive. When my siblings and I were young, we used to talk about how dysfunctional other families were, and that we were the only normal family of the people we knew. Ha! It wasn’t until I was a full-out adult that I figured out that our family was as dysfunctional as every other family. How can two people from different households, beliefs, likes, dislikes, goals, lifestyles get together and stay that way? It seems nearly impossible.
Yet, my parents did it. Bill’s parents did it. Many of my friends are doing it. Bill and I are doing it. We won the dance contest, didn’t we?
I wonder what the DJ would have said if he knew that a mere year into our marriage, I got so mad at Bill for something I don’t even now remember that I threw my Taco Bell burrito right at him from across the room. Yep. Truth. Two good things came out of it: 1) He indicated to me how quick his response time is by ducking just in time; and 2) We had to make up because the burrito had gone underneath the refrigerator and so we had to work together to move the fridge and retrieve the burrito.
What I’ve learned over the years is that marriage is hard work. Sometimes the work is too hard, and the marriage doesn’t pan out. But as the years go by, you get more mellow and more forgiving. You realize that you should never waste a good burrito on something trivial. You can apologize without thinking you’re giving in. And most of all, you realize how quickly time flies and you better not waste time on small things.
Best wishes to the bride and groom. I know they will do what Bill suggested and love each other with all their hearts every day of the rest of their lives…