A few weeks ago, we attended the wedding we thought we'd never live to see. This was a much bigger deal than the last wedding we attended. Jete's aunt and her boyfriend decided to get married after twenty years of dating. She is the first of Clyde's siblings to get married in over thirty years. They're both in their early 40s and, until their wedding night, neither of them had ever moved out of their parents homes.
I know. WOW.
When Jete and I first started dating, this aunt was very nice to me. She always made sure to include me in conversations at family functions when I still felt new and out of place. When we started 'living in sin', her behavior cooled off a bit, but it completely froze when she found out we were getting married.
A few months before our wedding, she decided she needed to have a talk with Jete. She took him aside and told him that he was making a huge mistake. He was rushing things and marriage was a bad idea. We were hurt, but as anyone who ever planned a wedding knows, she wasn't alone when it came to offering unsolicited advice. The wedding went forward as planned, with or without her blessing.
She hasn't given any further words of wisdom to either of us. She is good to our kids when she sees them, and is friendly to Jete and I. For the sake of keeping peace, we just pretend that their little conversation never happened.
Like everyone else in the family, we were a bit surprised to hear of their engagement. But despite our past differences, I do wish them a happy marriage. In some strange way, I want them to be obscenely happy so that she'll have to admit that she was wrong.
Their wedding was nice. Very traditional, very CATHOLIC, ceremony. So, of course, one of the readings was 1 Corinthians: "Love is patient, Love is kind..." I looked over at Jete and smirked when they started reading it. He hates that passage. We specifically chose not to use it in our wedding because it's becoming so common. On our way from the ceremony to the reception, it inspired one of his usual tirades.
"'Love is patient. Love is kind.' That's a bunch of bullshit! They don't know the first thing about love with their perfect little organized lives. Love isn't like that at all. Love is ... Lamictal!"
Lamictal, for those of you who don't know, is Ethan's newest seizure med. We had spent the day before the wedding struggling to get our insurance company to cover his prescription. His comparison made me laugh out loud.
"You know this is going in my blog, right? And I think 'Love is Lamictal' has to be the title."
He smiled. "It's true. Enough of this happy sunshine crap. It isn't real."
He was right of, course. In his own angry, poetic way.
His aunt and now-uncle are adjusting to living together. Less than a month after the wedding, things like what to make for dinner, when to do the laundry, where to keep the towels, are starting to get to them. His aunt has told Jete's sisters: "Don't ever get married! You have to live with a MAN." Needless to say, it hasn't been all they thought it would be.
After 40+ years of each doing things their own way, I can imagine it's difficult to deal with someone else's quirks. But I wonder what kind of expectations they had about married life. No matter how long it drags on for, "dating" - sharing your stories, cups of coffee, an occasional movie - does nothing to prepare you for marriage. Marriage isn't for everyone. It's a speeding, bumpy roller coaster. If they expected any less, then they got on the wrong ride.
Part of the problem is the illusion that is a wedding. Everyone looks beautiful, you're surrounded by flowers and candlelight. Even the Bible readings are romanticized. Yes, love is a wonderful thing, but it can also be very painful. Terrifying. Downright messy. Maybe they should clear things up with a few specific examples:
Love is ... cleaning the vomit off the floor when she has food poisoning.
Love is ... fighting with the insurance company or bill collector so that he doesn't have to.
Love is ... telling silly stories until her panic attack is over.
Love is ... going to his family function where you know there will be large dogs roaming free, even though you have a dog phobia.
Love is ... taking a vacation day so she doesn't have to go to a doctor's appointment alone.
Love is ... missing out on your family's Christmas Eve tradition so that you can go to his family's.
Love is ... keeping each other company while you wait for your son to come out of his ten-hour surgery.
Love is ... Lamictal. Risky, expensive and a pain in the ass to get in the right dose. But if everything goes right, it can make your life better.
(Just watch out for the nasty rash.)