Last night we went to a pretty fab wedding on the north side of town. It was a friend I've known for about 8 years. I used to work with her at the bookstore then she left for LA with a boyfriend. When she came back three years later she was in pretty bad shape. Now she looks fit, healthy, and really happy. I cried a little bit at the wedding because it really is such a huge deal. With 50% of marriages (or more) ending in divorce, it's hard to say if anyone from my generation will be married happily ever after. My relationships have lasted longer, exponentially, since I first started dating but even after just two years I'm usually ready to throw in the towel.
Marriage is such a serious idea that I'm surprised it hasn't faded out entirely. I mean, I know there are still people who “wait” and have plans to get married, but I can't imagine not knowing if I'm sexually compatible with a person until after I've pledged the rest of my life to him. Yipes.
Something I find terribly amusing and disturbing at the same time is all the tradition involved. It amazes me that my friend would go to lengths she did to make her mom happy (because, after all, this was really her mother's wedding, right?). There was some god-stuff in the ceremony, a very traditional dress, a huge reception, a giant cake, photos of them cutting the cake, a dance at the reception, toasts from everyone . . . It reminded me why I hated having a wedding. I had to apologize to people because I didn't want to do all that. The point, to me, wasn't the cake (though it was wonderful), how many people we had or how expensive my dress (or theirs) was. It was a ceremony for friends and family to see us get married for real. I was fine with the courthouse and signing a piece of paper, but it was sooooo important to soooo many people that we had to spend a few thousand bucks of our own money to prove something to them. And I'm not really sure what that was. I felt like an impostor the whole time, like I had no right to take over what some other people found so sacred and ritualistic. I just wanted to go home and cry. But more on why some other time. Lets just say some of the groom's family was not very nice.
One really funny thing at the wedding last night (ha-ha-funny or sad-funny, I'm not yet sure) was when the groomsperson (he had three guys and a chick, she had four chicks) got up to give her toast after dinner and she said “I know he said he'd never fall in love again and he'd never get married again, but…” At which point everyone at my table jerked their heads back to look at the bride's father and see if he was boiling.
If I were to spend $15,000 for my daughter's wedding and someone got up to announce to a room of 200 people that my daughter's husband had been married before, I'd have pulled the plug on the woman's mike. How inappropriate! I'm not the Queen of Class as you know, but I thought, in her own way, this woman was trying to say how much the groom loved the bride, but she was also telling everyone in the room that he'd already pledged his love to someone else, broken that promise, and was doing it again.
Divorce isn't really a sticky topic anymore. Most everyone I know who is or has been married has been or is going through a divorce. Excluding our parents' generation, practically everyone I know between 25 and 40 is breaking up, getting back together, getting with someone else . . .
What is it about is that makes it impossible to stay faithful or committed? I don't know what my problem is; my parents are still married and never fought in front of us. I had decent role models as far as marriage goes. Charlie's parents have been married a combined total of about 10 times and he was ready to get hitched when he was 22. He even bought a ring for this girl. But I can't seem to settle down. Occasionally, when I see my name spelled out “Mrs. Such-and-Such,” like at the reception last night, I panic. No, I think, that's not me. Why would I ever have changed my name? Why would I have made such a lasting, serious commitment to another person when I can't even decide on a permanent hair color?
Other times, I think I'm really lucky. Without getting all sappy, I can't imagine being with someone else. I'd rather be alone then get back out there and go through a string of pointless, empty relationships with people who aren't even my friends.
I guess that's what it all boils down to. It's not love or sex, lust or passion. It's simply being friends with the person you're with. In the end, all that other stuff dies. We're biologically programmed to seek out new partners, to put off pheromones that attract the opposite sex (sorry, GLBT community, I don't know the science behind those kinda pheromones). We just chose somewhere along the way to make it a social norm to always be with one person. But for some it just won't ever work. They'll either cheat and lie, or constantly break up and get with a new person.
Take our friend Chad, for example. He dumped Kate after a pretty typical break-up conversation (except he may have said 'it's not me, it's actually you'), then tried to get back with her. Being with someone else was important enough to her that she lied to her friends (or at least me and Charlie) about it. Then she went to spend the night at his house saying he needed to have someone there while he took a new medicine. [But they're just friends.] At 3 a.m. a strange woman came pounding on the door. She'd been seeing Chad for at least 3 months, which is a good two months of overlap into his relationship with Kate. How the guy never thought he'd be found out, I don't know. And why anyone would waste her time on a guy like that, I also don't know. But we're desperate to be in relationships, to be a part of another person and to have our lives made “whole” by being thought of as a couple.