It’s Not About the Wedding – Chapter 2 – It’s Not About Getting Married

This is the 2nd in a series of 16 chapters from a new manuscript I am working on called It’s Not About the Wedding: A Common Sense Guide to Getting it Right the First Time, or Any Time.  I would love to receive any and all positive or negative feedback on this topic, particularly from those of you who are perhaps currently engaged to be married!  Stay tuned for subsequent chapters to follow…

Chapter 2 – It’s Not About Getting Married

This chapter was originally titled, “It’s Not About Marriage”.  A friend pointed out to me that that title was a bit misleading, and asked, “If it’s not about marriage, then what is it about?”  I realized that I needed to make a change.  While the updated title is only slightly different, it makes an important differentiation.  I reached a point in my life, around 21 or 22, where I just decided it was time to get married – before I had anyone to marry.  When the next person I dated said she wanted to get married, it was a foregone conclusion that it would happen.  I foolishly believed that getting married was the answer to whatever problems I was having in life (which, at that time, included depression).  My friend was correct, it is about marriage, union, relationship.  What it is not about is the act of getting married.  That, in and of itself, won’t change anything, except to create more problems if you do it for the wrong reasons.

Married life isn’t necessarily all that different from single life – at least not until children come into the picture.  Sure, there are rings on your fingers, and you’ve managed to squeeze all of both of your things into that smallish apartment, but you need to understand that there are many aspects of your life and relationship that will not change at all between the day before and the day after your wedding.  The fact of the matter is that by the time you get to the wedding, you should already have the relationship you want to maintain and nurture forever.  This is not to say that you have the perfect relationship, or that you won’t grow closer and deeper in love through the years.  However, if your decision to marry someone is based solely on your vision of the future of the relationship, instead of the reality of the relationship you have right now, there are going to be issues.

Marriage is not the solution to a problem. There are little lies that we tell ourselves when we don’t want to face the truth.  One example is the “when” lie.  I totally fell victim to this one, which causes you to miss all kinds of warning signs.  The “when” lie convinces you to gloss over and look beyond issues that are crying out to be addressed by telling yourself, “It will be better when…”  For instance, perhaps you find you and your betrothed arguing a little more than you are comfortable with.  Don’t chalk it up to the stress of planning a wedding and convince yourself that it will be better when you’re married.  The reality is this:  If something is not working now, it probably won’t work when you’re married either.  In a lifetime together, you are going to experience situations that are much, much more stressful than planning a wedding.

If you use the “when” lie once, you will use it a hundred times.  I spent a decade convincing myself that things would change when… we got married… when I got a better job… when we had a house of our own… when I saw my wife holding our child…  How could they not?  While many things did change over that time, many did not, and I finally realized that they never would.

It’s a bit of an odd source, but a good example of another lie we tell ourselves comes from the movie Wedding Crashers.  Claire (Rachel McAdams) is engaged to Zach (Bradley Cooper), who is obviously an absolute jerk who wouldn’t know love if it smacked him in the face.  As she begins to fall for John (Owen Wilson), she clearly begins to doubt her love for Zach, but she simply dismisses this doubt as “just how everyone feels before they get married.”  Don’t allow yourself to believe this lie.  Follow your instincts and take a closer look at what is making you feel this way.  There may be significant underlying issues that are serious enough to consider postponing or even calling off the wedding.

If there are doubts, fears, questions, secrets, or other issues in a pre-marital relationship, they must be openly addressed before the wedding planning begins.  This sounds so simple, but if it doesn’t happen early on, it gets harder and harder to bring up these very important details as the wedding draws closer.  As a close friend (who is now divorced) said to me, “Once the wedding plans start it’s like a runaway train.”

More to come in Chapter 3…

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~ by suitenectar on August 26, 2010.

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