Last month I did something that I could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined doing: I officiated my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding ceremony. I didn’t realize doing this was even possible for an average person like me, but thanks to the Universal Life Church, I became an ordained minister simply by filling out an online form. Go figure.
I was both honored and scared by the request. I mean, holy crap, I was going to marry them! This was not something I could screw up.
Thanks to much preparation and collaboration with my sister-in-law, the ceremony went off without a hitch (no pun intended), if you don’t count the fact that the guests remained standing the whole time because I forgot to tell them to sit after the bride joined the groom. Fortunately for them, the ceremony was short and sweet.
As I guided my brother and sister-in-law through their marriage vows, and saw the love shining in their young eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder what the next 20 years would be like for them. Would their marriage mostly be smooth and problem free? Or would it hit some major bumps along the way?
This past summer, my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We’ve encountered more bumps than I care to remember. Like most couples, we started off madly in love and full of hope for our future. Then the grind of daily life, amongst other things, slowly took its toll.
I wish I could say that I’m a good wife, but that’s not always true. When I feel stressed, over-burdened, or plain burned out (which is too often), I am known to whine, complain, and yell. I’ve never learned how to effectively handle stress, with the exception of engaging in regular, vigorous exercise and yoga, which I don’t always have time for.
I’m too easily influenced by my emotions; take the time I was so mad at my husband that I smashed my wedding ring with a hammer. This kind of crazy doesn’t always make for a good marriage, and sometimes I feel like it negates all of the good I do bring to the union. I’d blame it on my Sicilian blood, but that would be lame.
My husband is hardly perfect himself. On the surface he appears to be a quiet, easy-going guy. In reality, he’s not. He also doesn’t think twice about making large purchases behind my back and then leaving me to figure out how to pay for them or replace the money. He has trouble with keeping his emotions bottled up for so long that he ultimately explodes, which leads him to do crazy things, like tell a boss to f#*% off.
Still, here we are, 20 years into it. We have created a home and a family and a life together. We love each other, in spite of the bumps. Things aren’t always crazy; we aren’t always crazy. Mostly our life together is routine, with spurts of excitement and special moments sprinkled in.
That is what the romance novels don’t tell you – what happens after you say “I do”. If they did, no one would read them because they’d be too boring. But you can’t tell that to a newlywed couple, and why would you anyway? They need to have their fairy tale beginning. It’s what will carry them through the inevitable hard times, and the monotony of daily routines.
Marriages are stories that are constantly unfolding. If you’re lucky enough (meaning with lots and lots of hard work and sacrifice and compromising that no one on the outside ever sees) to make it to the final chapter (meaning the “til death do us part” ending) and still love each other, that, in my book, is the true meaning of “happily ever after”.