Dating, Marriage, and Forever

If you're planning a wedding or have ever helped plan a wedding, you probably know that the bride and everyone connected with her is totally consumed with the planning: the perfect cake, the perfect dress(es), the perfect wedding party, the perfect venue, photographer, videographer, flowers, food, music, dance, etc. etc. The list is endless. 

For many people, life in the dating realm is spent searching for the person who completes them, the person most compatible with their life, the person who will encourage them in their endeavors and be the handsome/beautiful face smiling back at them in front of their friends and family as they say their vows. Most people are looking for a completion of sorts- someone to fill out what they lack in all the ways that make them most happy. Someone to be there for them when others leave, and someone who will always have their back no matter what. 

Most of the time, the idea of extreme hardship doesn't enter the picture. The thought 'could I be this person's sole support system if all fails and they can't support me or themselves?' or 'could I forgive this person if they fail me and injure my heart deeply?' never crosses the mind. It's not something even on the radar, especially with all that tulle and lace and cloud of romantic attachment floating around the brain.

Planning a wedding can be one of the most stressful times of a person's life. I lost twenty pounds in the months before my wedding and had multiple panic attacks, then ended up with a terrible case of the flu on my wedding day/honeymoon. The planning of an event that large was way too much for my non-planner, organizationally-challenged brain to handle, and my body responded in kind.

Looking back I can now say this with certainty: the wedding was a nice day and we had a lot of fun, but it was only the beginning of the most important day of my life. It wasn't THE most important day of my life. 

The wedding was just the outward act of the covenant being created over the past months, and the expression of the vows that would be striven for over the next decades. The wedding was just a blip on the radar of our marriage. It was only the first of thousands of days in which our vows were stated and promises were made and broken.

When you're planning for a wedding (or looking for someone to eventually call your spouse), you need to look past your wedding day. Look down the road to financial burdens that are too heavy for your shoulders. To the first month of being parents and the incredibly emotionally draining, exhausting, medically-challenging time that is. To the trips you take together only to realize you didn't communicate and expectations become disappointments. To the times you disagree and still have to live together. To the times when your pre-kid bodies leave and you have to trust that your spouse still wants you over the other women and men with better, leaner, more attractive bodies. To the time when physical intimacy isn't option and the fears that accompany that- will they cheat? do they still want/love me? 

Marriage is forever. To be able to have a successful marriage, you must be willing to be the trustworthy, faithful, steadfast spouse. Looking to your partner to be those things without expecting that same dedication in yourself is a recipe for a sad, broken, disappointing marriage.

Marriage is for the long-haul, and our generation needs to be better at realizing that it's OUR job, not our spouse's job, to be dedicated to its success. We need to be preparing to be the spouse who becomes the sole breadwinner when our other half can no longer function. To be the strong one- the one who runs after our spouse in the night because their mind is failing and they've forgotten where they are. The one who is content to sit next to the other, loving them in simple, childlike ways because it's the only way we can show it to their fogged, uncomprehensive mind. The one ready to serve the other with grace and forgiveness when it's needed, and to not bring up past failures.

If you're planning a wedding, try to remember that what you're actually planning for is a lifetime.