The Perfect Wedding vs. a Blissful Marriage

The Perfect Wedding vs. a Blissful Marriage

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    I have a friend who spent thousands of dollars she didn’t have on the lavish wedding of her dreams. She and her husband now live with her mother and father because they can’t afford their own home and at the same time repay the thousands they borrowed for the wedding. This close contact is creating considerable friction between all parties involved, understandably. What should be two happy—and well separated—marriages is instead a houseful of resentful people.

    An old high school friend of mine spent thousands of dollars on the wedding of which she had fantasized all her life. Within a month, she found herself living in a podunk town in Nebraska with no friends and no job. Her husband retired early due to a construction accident; he now collects disability insurance and spends most of his time watching sports on TV when he isn’t out shooting pool with his friends. And of course she isn’t invited to the “boy’s nights out” get-togethers.

    It seems to me that people who dream of a sumptuous wedding do so years before they actually meet the person they want to marry. For many of these people, the ceremony and reception matter more than the person with whom they plan to spend their lives. I think that as a culture, we have the entire thing backward.

    What we should strive for is a great marriage, not a great wedding. Rather than spending months planning an event that will last for one day, spend that time considering what it will take for you and your spouse-to-be to keep one another happy. You should ask yourself what you expect out of the marriage, not what color the bridesmaids’ dresses should be or whether to serve canapés or dumplings as hors devours.

    With great relief and gladness, I use my own marriage as an example. Neither my wife nor I wanted a big wedding. We both felt that such events are a huge waste of money, that what mattered more than anything was that we were married and could spend the rest of our lives together. For me, marriage consists of one simple question: What can I do to keep my wife happy? Judging by how she treats me, my wife shares this philosophy. We were married by a justice of the peace, at a total cost of about $500 (that included her dress, my suit, buying drinks for our friends who acted as witnesses, best man and maid of honor; our hotel room—here in the city; we didn’t even leave town for a honeymoon—and room service). In the ten years that we have been married, we’ve had our ups and downs like all couples; we’ve been through thick and thin and we’ve had occasional spats. But not once have I felt threatened, bored with her or anxious about losing her. Through it all, the love has been a constant and has, if anything, grown in intensity. We plan for the future, but live in the present and have no worries that if our future goals are not realized that it will be a strain on our relationship.

    My best wish for my family, friends and the world at large is that everyone could have a marriage as trusting and loving as what I have. If everyone knew the happiness that is mine, you wouldn’t be able to tell Earth from Heaven, and a big, flashy, expensive wedding would be superfluous at best.

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