There are many metaphors for weddings. The popular unity candle represents the formation of a third “person” beyond the spouses: the marriage, which must also be nurtured. Some people liken weddings to a new boat putting out to sail on the turbulent seas of matrimony. Others prefer to regard the joining of two people as like the mystical union of water and land, where the shoreline is the only safe place for both to exist.
A different metaphor came to me the other day as I read accounts of bridezillas – a species I had imagined would quietly shuffle off to extinction during these wretched economic years, but no such luck – and their excesses. To read these stories is to realize that for these women their wedding day is IT, and no day in the future could ever make up for a blip on the one-and-only.
Honey, you have no idea.
The wedding day is just the very tiniest of beginnings. What happens during all the years after is much more important. Balance against that one day the joys of new babies, work promotions, conflicts successfully resolved, and all the ins and outs of negotiation, respect, and passion, and wedding-day fuss seems almost comical.
Beginning a marriage is like a knitter casting on. Take one needle, make a few twists and turns, and voilà! You have the very slimmest of beginnings for a sock, scarf, sweater. The size you make the garment depends on you. The yarn you use (wool, silk, poly, blends), its thickness, the colors chosen, the stitches’ relative tightness – all up to you. As is the choice of stitches. Will you go with plain but serviceable knit-and-purl, or branch out? Will you use one color, two, many? How long will you knit? Each day? When the spirit moves you?
It’s that way in marriage, too. Having been unmarried for a spell – lonely yet educational – I’ve spent time in study and planning, just in case a kind, loving man pops into my life. What I observe is that, generally, those who invest time and energy into their relationships reap stronger ones. No surprise there. If you’re married to a reasonable person, it makes sense that they’ll return love for love.
Like any relationship, marriage takes devotion. It takes attention and nurturing.
It takes all the days and months and years after the two of you cast on.