IS “HAPPILY EVER AFTER” A FANTASY OR REALITY?
Our society idealizes love, romance, and marriage. Men and women both enter into marriage thinking that they are about to step into a “happily ever after” kind of life, but the reality is often very different.
Even if they had problems when they were dating, they somehow believe that a white dress and elegant tuxedo and ceremonial gathering of their family and friends are going to fix everything.
I’ve got news for couples with this mindset: the altar is not this great fix-all for everything wrong with your relationship. The altar where you get married is really the registration desk for the marriage hospital.
It’s where you check in for the most intense thing that’s about to happen to you both.
Getting married—even to the right person—is not the answer to your problems. Sometimes I think the wedding ceremony has a degree of false advertising to it. We get really dressed up in fancy suits and pretty dresses. Everything is so perfect, from the flowers to the music to the candles.
We clean up well on the outside when we get married. But what about the inside? On the inside, I think we’re too messed up to wear pretty clothes at weddings.
That’s the purpose of premarital counseling—to show couples how messed up they are. What if, as a result of the counseling, we had couples dress according to their problems?
Maybe the groom grew up in an emotional war zone. He could wear torn and stained military fatigues and limp up to the stage. His family could all dress like him, because this way the bride would know what she was getting into.
And speaking of the bride, maybe she could wear a hospital gown instead of a wedding gown. Why? Because her family was an emotional train wreck. She could push her dad down the aisle in a wheelchair. Her whole family could be bandaged up and moaning in pain. This way, the groom would know what he was getting into.
That’ll never happen, of course, because people want to dress nice for such a big event.
But what we can do is approach the wedding ceremony with reality in mind. When we vow to love our husband or wife “in sickness and in health,” we need to take it seriously. Each of us deals with sickness, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical.
We vow to love each other “for better or worse,” but we need to realize that the wedding, in almost all cases, is the better part. The worse comes later…but it definitely comes.
Reality is waiting at the end of the ceremony. It’s waiting at the hotel room that night, on the honeymoon the next morning, and over the threshold when the honeymoon ends.
That’s when the real you steps forward. That’s when the vows about lifelong partnership really set in. A healthy marriage is based on reality and not a fantasy. It is about loving someone and being committed to someone “til death do us part, so help me, God.” Because we need all the help we can get.