When I meet with a couple who wish to get married, we talk about the expectations and changes they should expect. It seems that almost everyone loves a wedding. At least until the planning gets started. Wow, the work that goes into the one day. It takes a lot of patience to get through it. From the venue, to the invitations, menu, music, photographer, etc…. it can be overwhelming. If you find this to be true, remember to talk to your officiant, discuss it all, and hopefully put it into perspective.
Did you know that a gay-marriage is the same as a “straight”? Did you know that once you are married, you need a divorce to end it? Did you know that if you were previously “legally” married and want to marry someone else, you still need a divorce?
One member of a couple contacted me three months into their marriage. He wanted to know if he could get it annulled. Was the marriage real? They needed to end it. Much to his disappointment, I informed him that he would need to go through the same process as any other married couple.
So, now when I meet with a couple, I begin by advising them that the marriage is a legal, binding contract between the two people. The only way they could end it – was in a divorce. It is a shame to have to begin with this, but we all need to think about all our options. Yes, we always hope the marriage will last forever. Forever could be a long time if you are not happy.
The other thing we discuss is the guest list. We all want to be surrounded by loved ones and family. But, some of our families are not very supportive. They don’t believe in our relationships as being a legal commitment. Most people look at the RSVP cards as a simple decision that someone just can’t make it. But, a lot of us look at it as a decision that they cannot support us on our special day. Counseling a couple often means establishing expectations. Not about the ceremony, but about the wedding day.
How devastating it is to hear, on your wedding day, that your parents re-thought about attending and witnessing your marriage commitment! You thought they understood how much you loved each other. You thought they liked your partner. You thought they would be happy for you. The truth is that many of our parents and families just don’t understand. They don’t understand why we want to marry. Why we want to have a wedding. Why we want to share this experience with loved ones.
We cannot choose the family we are born into. We cannot force them to change who they are and what they think. We can choose those whom we wish to have as our family. We can choose those people who will stand with us and love us unconditionally.
I hugged the groom who was hurt. I pointed out to him the loved ones who were present. I let him know how extremely grateful he should be to have loving parents present. To have his partner’s loving parents present. Did this make up for those missing? No, but it put things into prospective. It is so critical for us to acknowledge the love ones that support us. The grooms started the ceremony by hugging and kissing their parents. It brought a tear to my eyes.
It is was a wonderful ceremony, filled with scripture, poetry, and family participation. But I think that greater than all this, was that the one mother came up to me afterwards and thanking me for the ceremony and the joining of her son to his love. What an incredible gift she gave me.
If all our parents demonstrated that level of love, we wouldn’t have to worry about who was there and who was not. We would be able to accept the things we cannot change. We could enter into the new relationship knowing we had the support from those who matter most.
To all couples out there: accept the love that comes to you and try to let the rest go. If you cannot, make sure you talk it over with your partner, your friends and families that love you so much. Remember that the commitment you make to each other in love will sustain you as long as you keep that love alive.
May loving relationships be a part of your life, whether through family or friends or both.