Weddings and divorces follow up

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 24, 2009, 3:44 PM | comments: 0

Tyler clarified his position in a follow up post, and I get his points. I don't really have any response that I haven't already said.

His post does make me think about some things though. On the topic of divorce, there's no question that it sucks, and it happens more than anyone would like, but it really shouldn't surprise anyone. Getting married young carries the risk that you are not "well formed," and therefore prone to growing into a hopelessly incompatible relationship. People do change, and rarely as you expect. Getting married a slightly older, 27 in my case, might has well have been at 22, when we moved in.

I get annoyed when people get really critical about divorce though, because it's generally without the context or experience of people who've been in those shoes. For myself, I didn't appreciate the nature of the expectations, while we both had enough damage from other sources to render the marriage a mess. That we're both happier now is not at all surprising. Hindsight is what it is.

And you don't really get a medal or reward either for sticking to something that makes you miserable. My... uh.. father-girlfriend-in-law? (what do you call the woman dating your father in-law?)... spent decades in an emotionally abusive situation, which unfortunately taught her kids to be the same way, several of which are also in emotionally abusive relationships. There are no bonus points for that, because once you're dead, you've wasted your life being miserable.

I realize that religion, and Christianity in particular (and perhaps Catholicism specifically) teaches you certain values around marriage and how important it is. And that's fine, but not everyone needs to agree with it because not everyone subscribes to the same beliefs. Frankly, anyone who goes through divorce likely has everything about their beliefs challenged anyway. I know for me, it was the single most stressful and awful thing I've ever had to deal with, and ours was pretty civil. I used to tell people that the reason for our very long engagement was to hopefully prevent ending up divorced like my parents. It ultimately made no difference. I still wouldn't characterize it as a mistake. I think it was an honor to be married to Stephanie.

I can definitely sympathize with Tyler's comments about the explosion of nonsense surrounding the planning of a wedding. For my first one, Stephanie and I would've been perfectly happy to elope, but she wanted her dad to be there, so we settled into the more traditional ceremony. By the time it went down, I think to a large extent we just wanted to get on the f'ing plane and be done with it. There was so much drama with family, members of the wedding party, parents, etc., that at some points it felt like it wasn't even about us. Before you knew it, it was over. But hey, at least we had no chicken dance.

I feel like I knew better second time around, which is why early on I made it known that I just wanted to be on a beach, and I honestly didn't care who was there. Of course, this time around, my then future father-in-law wanted to throw the ultimate party, which changed things a lot. With Diana being 39 and me 35, everything was different in terms of expectations for everyone. No stack of college friends (or high school friends), most people are older and can afford to travel, and really, being older gives you the ability to question every decision, and whether you're making it because it's "what you do" or because it's what "you want to do." Even something as silly as cake was optional (we had pies). And no shoes.

Weddings, like anything else, are a product of our domestication process, and I wish someone would tell us when we're young that you don't have to fall in line with every tradition, with limos and tuxedos and flower girls and DJ's and such. I wonder if this isn't all rooted in the American prom tradition (which I skipped), as many describe it as a wedding warm-up for teens.

I'm exceptionally happy with how things went for me and Diana at our wedding. There was some drama with various travel plan failures, but for the most part, it went off without a hitch, and the way we wanted. It was exactly the kind of celebration I was hoping for.


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