I’ve attended a number of weddings in my day. I’ve been a flower girl three times, a bridesmaid twice, and the mother-of-ring-bearers twice now. I’ve sat as witnesses many others, from the small to the grandiose.
I love weddings. My grandmother used to “do” weddings, from the flowers to the dresses, and her love of all things prettiful is embedded deep in my genes. I can’t pass the bridal store in a local city without looking in the window to see what’s new. I like reading about new trends in ceremonies and receptions. I’ve enjoyed watching my younger cousins plan their weddings so I can happily follow along with the goings-on.
But the one thing I don’t like about weddings? The message.
I sigh and shift in my seat (or on my feet) when the officiant, usually a pastor in these here parts, clears his (usually, nine times out of ten) throat and begins to impart knowledge of marriage upon us. I say us, meaning the witnesses, because the bride and groom are usually too giddy staring at each other to catch wind of what the pastor is actually saying. Out loud. With his voice.
I do have some recollection of the message our then-pastor chose to use during our wedding ceremony. He went with the good ole Ephesians 5:22 and told me to “submit” to my husband. Now, listen, I get it. I know the basis of the verse. I know that my submission is supposedly fine as my husband is to love me as Christ loves us, but gimme a break. I was a baby-feminist at the time, and while I couldn’t pin-point it on my wedding day, I knew I didn’t like the message. It didn’t fit us as a couple. It wasn’t representative of the mutual respect and love we shared for one another and fell flat.
All the same, I do respect my husband. He respects me as well. We’re good at that, seeing as how we’re human beings, deserving of such respect and such.
I’ve heard this particular message at weddings in various ways over the years. Sometimes in a harsh, conservative, “You will do whatever your husband tells you to do” type manner. Sometimes with the recognition that the message is controversial. One time tongue-in-cheek.
(If this was your wedding message and you enjoyed it, that’s fine. Please note that I said it wasn’t “us.”)
I’ve heard worse messages as well. One about divorce and its evils and perils—preached at the wedding for a person entering their second marriage, the previous ending in (very necessary) divorce. I just kind of looked at the pastor like, “Oh, you know them as well as our old pastor knew us. You had one job.” I’ve even heard a message in which the pastor basically stated that working mothers were the downfall of all marriages.
Needless to say, I’m not quite a fan of wedding morality messages.
But. My cousin just married a wonderful woman this past weekend. The boys both provided security for the ring bearer and stood up front with the groomsmen. I sat in the second row, occasionally pointing back to the front of the church to make sure my boys were at least looking in the right direction if not really paying attention. When the pastor started in on the message, I sighed and eyed him suspiciously.
Color me surprised when I didn’t hate what he had to say.
Marriage Needs to Be a Priority
He simply said that for a marriage to grow and flourish, it needs to be a priority. Sometimes that means telling friends “no.” Sometimes that means turning off the TV. Sometimes that means setting boundaries with family members. And it will mean different things to different couples.
I’m on board with that message. Too often we, as in the adult, married people in this household, let the everyday “stuff” of marriage, household-running, parenting, and human-being-ness get in the way. Yes, the laundry needs finished. Yes, the kids need to go to football practice. Yes, someone needs to cook dinner to feed us. Yes, we need to work and sleep and have fun and be active. But. We also need to be us. We need to go on dates. We need to spend time together after the boys go to bed. We need to hold hands in the car or in public. We need to escape together now and again. We need to be present for each other during the hard times and the good; we need to celebrate and cry with each other.
I hope my cousin and his new wife look back on their wedding day message, maybe years from now, and realize they’ve been doing just that. I think we all need a reminder now and again when life gets busy and overwhelming. I’m thankful for a partner and friend who enjoys making our relationship a priority as well.
And PS: BigBrother caught the garter. Oh dear.