I have been to many weddings in my life. The first one I remember was my Uncle Bill’s. I was about 4 or 5 years old and I wore a brown velvet dress. I remember being very excited and dancing, trying to be the center of attention; my pop-pop egging me on. The next one was around the same time. My cousin, who was a year older, was supposed to be the flower girl. She was too scared and they asked me to step in. I walked up the isle with pride, ordering the ring bearer to slow down throughout the procession.
I write all this, from Hawaii, where my younger brother lives. We just attended his wedding to his beautiful bride and I couldn’t be happier for them. Hawaii, is one of the most magical places in the world. Certainly the most magical place I have ever been to. Marriage requires a little bit of magic along with the love and the work. I have been to so many weddings throughout my life. All were joyous and fun occasions in their own right. Some of the marriages lasted some did not. But the actual weddings are all so full of promise and an innocent naiveté of what it takes for a marriage to work.
When my husband and I got married 10 years ago, we had already lived together for about 3 years. We had already worked out some of the minor kinks that most newlyweds go through in the first years of marriage. You know, do we wait to pay bills until the last minute or pay ahead of time, do we sleep on the left or the right side of the bed and do these positions remain or can they be switched, who cooks/cleans up meals, how do we divi up household chores, what religion if any are we, do we practice our religion, how much alone time do each of us need. Each marriage works these things out in their own way (or they don’t.)
The thing that changes after the wedding vows are spoken and we have recovered from our wedding hangover is something more ethereal. You realize you are a part of something larger, something your own but part of a multicultural, multinational, institution. What makes your union so special to last the test of time? The answer is and isn’t: Love. Love has to be the base, the cornerstone and the core. The rest is a lot of hard work, mostly on yourself. You have to start figuring out who you are and why you are the way you are, in relation to your spouse. You have to be patient with your spouse while they figure this out for themselves. You then have to form who the two of you are now, together. Learning what it means to be a spouse, give and take, push and pull, yin and yang.... all these cliche’s are out there. The bottom line is you have to give each other and yourself a break. It is not going to be all seamless and effortless. That is not how lasting relationships work. Be patient and sincerely care for the other like you want to be cared for. Some days it comes back 10 fold some days not at all and that is ok. As long as there is reciprocation at some point. The only thing that is effortless and continual is your love for one another. My little brother and his new bride are just beginning this journey. Although it is work and there is effort involved, it is the most rewarding and fun work you will ever do. Each marriage is as unique as the people in them and it can be the one thing in your life that is truly your own. So, to my brother and his new wife, Mazel tov, Mabuhay, Salute, Sláinte, Jambo, Okole maluna!