Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Everything That Comes with It
I admit it---I was the little girl who used to create Barbie doll wedding dresses out of toilet paper. I was the little girl who pinned a pillow case "wedding veil" to her pony tail, and I was the little girl who, when asked by her ice skating instructor what she wanted to practice, said, "Let's practice walking down the aisle!"
Falling in love. Marriage. Babies. I had my entire life planned out by the time I was six years old. Is it any wonder I had to have the wedding of the century (second only to Princess Diana, of course)? My winter wedding day, complete with snow, was spectacular. Perfect. Flawless. I was locked arm in arm with my dad, and the wedding planner was making sure my gown would make its magnificent statement (actually, in 1981 we didn't have wedding planners....but I'm fairly certain he would have been a wedding planner if there were such a thing back then).
The music was just about to cue my entrance, and <about here is where we would insert the sound effects of a needle screeching across a record>.
As I tried to step toward the doors waiting to be opened by the wedding planner wannabe, my dad hesitated. He wouldn't budge. At first I thought he was just trying to slow me down a bit (he had been, after all, telling me to be still and quiet down since I was about two years old). In a panic, I looked at Dad and said, "Are you okay?" He took a deep breath.
Oh. No. I knew that sigh. I knew that sigh always preceded a lecture, correction, admonishment. Why now? Didn't he maybe kind of sort of think this might not be such a good time? Couldn't he have maybe kind of sort of told me what he wanted to say, oh, I don't know, like a month before? Or at the rehearsal dinner? Or the morning of the wedding? The doors opened and I gave him an I'm-kind-of-busy-right-now-Dad-can-this-wait-oh-no-you're-going-to-say-it-anyway-this-can't-be-happening-everyone's-looking-at-us look(s).
Gently, like loving daddies do, he drew me into his side and whispered in my ear, "When you take your first step down this aisle, you must do so as if the word 'divorce' does not exist--you must enter this marriage knowing that divorce is a possibility, but something that should be your very last resort. Because after today, I can guarantee you that along with the happiness and joy you are feeling this very moment, this marriage will bring with it sorrow. There will be heartbreak, there will be difficulties, there might even be tragedy. Before you walk down the aisle, you must know in your heart that marriage--and everything that comes with it--is truly what you want."
I would like to be able to say that I melted into his arms and thanked him over and over for his wisdom. But, using my wedding bouquet to point toward the altar, all I could manage to get out was, "Ummmm....Okay. Thanks. Can we go now?" And, like loving daddies do, he squeezed me, chuckled, and said, "I love you Chickie. Let's go get 'em."
Realistically speaking, none of us is equipped to tackle the "everything" that comes with intimate relationships and marriage. We change. We grow. And we soon come to discover that the "everything" is actually quite different from what we expected. In desperation, we consider divorce because the "everything" just hurts too much. It's just too much work to make it right again.
But guess what--you can divorce proof your marriage. You can have a marriage or an intimate relationship that doesn't just survive, but one that thrives. You can experience a sex life that is almost never dull or boring. You can be a terrific parent. And you can leave your kids a legacy that no amount of money can ever buy....a foundation upon which they will someday build their own marriages and relationships.
About now, you're probably saying to yourself, "Here we go again, same-old-same-old tired marriage advice." Nope. I won't waste your time with that stuff, because it doesn't work. You see, the problem with existing books, TV talk show gurus, radio shows, and marriage or engagement weekend retreats is that they assume in their one-size-fits-all fixes that everyone defines "love," "marriage," or "sex" in the same way they do. That's why this stuff flops--almost always.
By writing with the notion that everyone follows the same pathway to marriage (first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ______ pushing the baby carriage), books like The Love Dare reduce love, sex, and the "everything" of marriage to something we do, instead of showing us how and why these experiences are a part of who we are. Now don't get me wrong--The Love Dare has helped thousands of couples get their marriages back on the right track, and it's a pretty good book for couples who aren't really struggling, but who want to experience deeper levels of intimacy. But what about the rest?
Follow me through Love is More Than a Dare. Spend some time with me and discover how, from the parent-child love bond, to friendships, to ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, or lovers, every past relationship writes your marriage scripts. Come alongside and see how you can know--really, really know--who you are as a lover and who your intimate partner is. Learn what it truly means to vow to "love" or to "honor" or to "care" for that person you're thinking about marrying, or that person you're already married to. Hang out here for a few weeks, and you'll discover how you can commit to the commitment....even when the "everything" makes it seemingly impossible to do so.