The Choice To Get Married
I was never one of those girls who fantasized about her wedding. Big dress, yellow and white flowers. Ok, that is not completely honest. More accurately, I was one of those girls who pretty much anti-fantasized about her wedding.
I don’t know… I could blame the fact my parents got divorced or that I was never around a loving marriage growing up. But the truth is, I saw a lot of perks to that. My mom never had to bounce ideas off another person. There were no 2 parents to play against each other. I had never felt sad about not having a dad; I honestly had no idea what I would do with him if I’d had one.
I had a sort of recurring theme in my early relationships. I pretty much begged them not to ask me to marry them. It’s not that I had a fear of intimacy or anything. My first boyfriend lasted from ages 15-21 and my next from 21-24 and the 3rd from 25-28. I was a serial monogamist. But marriage? The word always kind of made me cringe. I’d be trapped. I’d be compromising. What in the world would I do with a husband?
I remember sitting in a relationship class and one irreverent leader was talking about the 3 criteria for a good relationship:
1) The sex is good.
2) They provide money.
3) They let you do whatever the hell you want.
It sounded crass and shallow. First of all, it wasn’t about sex it was about love. Second of all, I would never considering marrying someone for money. And the third point; well was that even possible?
But I looked at my past relationships, my 3 past relationships, and had to chuckle at the way they had each failed his test.
Boyfriend #1- My best friend. Very funny. And kind. And the sex, well, it was frustrating. He was depressed. We could make up excuses... But I didn’t feel desired. And while we made it all the way to planning a wedding and picking a date, I’d written all too telling things in my diary, things like “If we make it to the wedding it will be a secretly very sad day.” And a big part of that was, well, in the bedroom. It didn’t matter how much I cared about him, we actually really didn’t work. Failed #1.
Boyfriend #2- Well, he was lovely… and controlling! He used to ask me where I was doing my quick changes while I was in My Fair Lady and was obsessed with who might see my partly clothed body. Fanatical about closing curtains, knowing where I was and checking in 3 times a day… I just couldn’t see how to reconcile this with my free and naked childhood and overwhelming requirement to be to be an ever wondering adventure in this big beautiful world. Failed #3.
Boyfriend #3- He was a romantic (mildly tortured) and wonderful artist. AND… I kid you not, we were having arguments about who had put gas in the car. My car. Our only car. Three years after dating, we almost always went dutch. I’d talk about an easier future and what it would take to create money with ease and he could hardly comprehend that question. “I just don’t see how that will happen” he would say. We were actors. And we were poor. Failed #2 in spades.
So here I sat. Marriage was a looming possibility with a man who lit me up when I talked about him, who I thoroughly enjoyed and who fit those 3 peculiar criteria, and so very many wonderful more… and I still looked at the topic with a crinkle in my forehead and a furl of my lip.
“What will my life be like if I marry this man? In 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?” I could feel that energy lighten and expand.
“What will my life be like if I don’t marry this man? In 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?” And things felt heavy and smaller.
I used every tool and question I had… and while I was enraptured by the idea of this man loving me and wanting to create life and have adventures with me, when people would ask questions if I thought I would marry him, the sour in my expression was increasingly harder to hide. I didn’t know. While all my tools and questions pointed to yes… Why was I so ill at ease?
“I feel like I would love to marry him, as long as no one knew about it.” I finally confessed to a mentor and a friend. “I mean, if we could just keep it between the 2 of us, I think it would be great!”
As his eyes widened and eyebrows quickly shot up. I knew that something was horribly wrong. Wrong with my perception of marriage? Wrong with my expectations? Wrong with the way I was looking at this whole thing.? What!?
“OK” I finally sighed. “Can you help me here? What is all this insanity I have on this topic? What gives?”
For the next excruciating hour Gary asked me questions. And I, I delicately spewed bile all over everything in sight.
“What does marriage mean to you?” he asked me.
“Being trapped. Giving up my dreams. Not being able to enjoy my sexualness. Feeling old. Giving up….” The horrible phrases spilled out of my mouth like foul stinking sewage from a backed up pipe.
“Well, I suppose I can see why you wouldn’t want to get married with those points of view in place.” Gary laughed. “Will you destroy and uncreate all those? Are you willing to give them up? Are you willing to see what is possible to create with another person if you choose it?”
“Yes.” I said emphatically, as my head did a whirling dance.
“What does marriage mean to you?” “The end, defiance, boredom, death.” They weren’t what I wanted to say, but they were the words that matched the energy of what I believed. And around and around and around we went.
It was a process used in Access Consciousness, to look at a thing, what it meant to you, over and over and give up the energy it brought up each time. I had done it for money, for business, for my dad and countless other topics and concepts in my life. I could see easily that if money meant “illusive, hard to get and frustrating” I wasn’t going to see very easy and joyful ways of creating it.
Yet somehow with marriage, I had just never asked the question. Whatever it meant seemed real and true to me. Be it from movies, evidence I had gathered or sheer fabrication, I had a whole strangling definition of this term that I had completely made up-- A definition that would mean I’d be crazy to say “I do” to those terms.
I spent the next 3 months asking myself “what does marriage mean to me?” and becoming aware of the crazy insanity of every answer I gave. Even positive things like “security” I started to question. That’s a lot to put on another person I realized. What if marriage didn’t have to mean even that? What if we could create it each day?
As my conclusions slowly lost their grip, I started to wonder: What was possible between two people I hadn’t considered? What could marriage add to my life? What if this model could actually allow me to thrive? What would that take? What limitations or ideas would I have to drop? Who would I have to show up as? Who could I choose to be?
And as each conclusion was replaced with a question, I started to have a peace. And in that, the topic lightened. Lightened until it was a joyful ‘yes’.
When it came time to write my vows, I wondered for weeks. What can I promise this man? What am I willing to give? What am I saying yes to? What is marriage to me? And as I asked, I knew that my vows that night were not just for him, they were also for me. What could I promise myself if I were going to take this step? What could I commit to me?
I walked down the aisle enjoying all the pomp and circumstances of a big beautiful wedding-- The kind that would have made my stomach turn only months before. But what was different is, it was mine. While wearing a white dress and veil, I was not saying yes to what everyone had designed. I was saying yes to me. And this man I loved. And my willingness to wonder with him daily about what exactly what we could create.
After jokes about never doing the dishes, and always walking barefoot in inappropriate moments, I was ready. And this was the promise that I made:
• I promise to never give up my dreams for you, but instead to include you in them.
• I promise to never ask you to make me your life, but I will joyfully join you in the parts of your life I am invited to.
• I promise to ask you questions rather than assuming I know who you are or what you need from me.
• I promise to look to what I am grateful for every day, and to also be aware of what is not working so that we can change it.
• I promise to support you and to cheer you on in whatever it is you need to do to create the world you desire to live in.
• And I promise I will work to put into play everything I have learned about honor, trust, allowance, vulnerability and gratitude to create with you an intimacy and in turn a marriage we can feel both whole and free within.
The words made me smile. The words put me at ease.
When the pastor looked at me pronouncing “Blossom, you may now kiss the groom” I felt an incredible joy bubble up. Who would have thought I’d be elated to have a groom!? But I was. Elated and curious.
If this was my definition of marriage, this I could do. This felt like freedom! This felt like love.