“She’s getting married! She’s my age! I can’t believe it!”
Sheba will be twenty-one soon and says that she is still growing as an individual. She is not ready even to be engaged to her serious boyfriend “Dave1.” She says they’ve talked about engagement.
Oh. “You have?”
“Yeah, but we’re not ready. I did tell him that if I told you I was engaged, your reaction would be ‘Oh. Alrighty then. Whatever makes you happy.’”
I laughed out loud. She nailed it, even the inflection with the words. She knows us well.
But apparently Dave’s parents would be apoplectic at the news, seeing it as a roadblock to his success. If it slows them down a bit, that’s not a bad thing.
Sheba and I talked for a minute about marriage. I told her that when I was younger I believed getting married would change nothing. I mean, I’m the same person before and after, right? Wrong. No one was more surprised than I. Abe and I were together for seven years before we married. And it was quite the awakening that our relationship changed a great deal as we continued together as a married couple.
Marriage contains a heritage that carries with it expectations2, part from our culture and part from our experience with family. We don’t even know what some of those expectations are until they are not met. I can see why the first year of marriage is the most difficult.
As the ability to marry expands to embrace all couples, I would encourage anyone considering marriage to examine closely (and verbally with your partner) what that might mean in terms of expectations. There are books written on the subject, so I will let the experts explain what that can mean. Meanwhile, I can recommend a few things:
- Honesty with kindness in all things, with yourself and your partner.
- Laughter in large daily doses, at yourself and with your partner.
- Forgiveness for yourself and your partner, for we will all fail at something.
- Communication with words and actions and touch.
- Planned time together and planned time apart.
- Change your expectations or your circumstances rather than submit to sorrow.
- Celebrate who your spouse is rather than bemoan who s/he is not.
There’s more, but that’s a good foundation upon which to build. Abe and I have lived through some very difficult years in our marriage. After 37 years together—thirty of them married— and all the trouble that comes from unmet expectations, do I still recommend marriage? I do.
1 Dave means “beloved” in Hebrew.
2 There are those pesky expectations again. They show up everywhere.