Its my wedding day and I’m witnessing multiple miracles.
For one thing my dad is in attendance.
Growing up, he constantly pointed out how much I wasn’t like other boys and how problematic this was. As a child, I was informed early and often that to be gay was the worst “decision” anybody could make.
To have him attend my wedding, joke with my new husband and lovingly interact with my adopted family was something I never imagined.
As a person who believes in love but was adamantly opposed to marriage, this day is as much a shock as it is a surprise. At a young age, I became obsessed with love and being loved. As a young queer, it was obvious to me that I would never know love, get married or in any way be fully accepted by my family of origin.
My Wedding day shattered these well honed and accepted assumptions.
To make sure that I stayed firmly in the land of alternate reality, my father offered some unsolicited and humorous advice, “some days you’ll go outside and scream and sometimes he’ll go outside and scream and there will be days when you’ll scream together.”
What this shocking and insightful chat taught me was that marriage is hard and challenging and no matter what tv and the movies show you, it is not puppies and moonbeams.
Nobody tells you when your picking out china patterns, cake testing and making invite lists that at some point you will want to murder your beloved. That at some point the repetition of those cute anecdotes that were so charming during the courting period are no longer endearing or bearable.
At my wedding, I talked about all the ways we would embark on our lifelong journey. We talked about the difficulties we would face together and how we would deal with failure, mistakes and whether or not we would honestly address it when things became annoying, boring or tiresome. How wonderful it would be if adults could actually set up a real relationship based on real needs?
In the wonderful book, How Can I Get Through To You, Terrence Real shares this quote from James Framo about participating in a real marriage:The day you wake up, turn to your spouse and realize that you’ve been had. That the person you fell in love with is not the person you are in bed with, that this is all some dreadful mistake. That is the first day or your marriage.”
But here’s the most important part…
There are only two questions that make happily married couples happily married.
Do I have the skills to love well and do I want to use these skills with you?
Rather than wasting time looking for the “one” and listening to all the Hollywood versions of what it should look like, you can start asking these two questions and eliminate a great deal of game playing, tears and drama. If your like most people, you’ve internalized a host of ideas and concepts that have nothing to do with “true love”.
Between Hollywood and your family of origin, the ideas we carry around about what love “should” be able to do and what we are willing to do to keep it and allow it to control our minds and actions is unbelievable.
Here are a few things I think everyone should include in their wedding vows- Most of this is not nice nor very politically correct.
I will be a pain in the ass some days and insufferable on some other days.
Both of us will struggle to listen and be heard when things are uncomfortable or we’re revisiting problems that are repetitive and chronic.
I’ll plan where I can travel once the body has been disposed of and all homicide charges have been cleared.
Both of us will age and gain weight and no matter our disillusion you will never look like a young Paul Newman nor I Idris Elba.
I will forget to call when I’ll be late and you’ll forget our wedding anniversary.
We’ll both bitch about our jobs and offer mutual support to change our occupations or continue the bitchfest.
We’ll disagree on everything from how to wash dishes, park the car and when to pay bills.
But you know what else?
You can still make the choice to do it differently, smarter and in a more deliberate fashion.
You can chose to stop falling in love and staying in that childlike fantasy world and instead choose to be loving.
You can move out of disillusionment and love with your heart and your mind.
You can revel in the fact that nothing stays the same and that a healthy relationship consistently moves through the three stages of harmony, disharmony and repair.