What Have I Become?

The Next Family

By: Heather Somaini

 

We went to a wedding this weekend.  It was a couple hours north of Los Angeles in central California’s wine country.  It’s quaint.  It has a Danish village – Solvang.  I always think Solvang is German and we’re going to get great Bratwurst and Schnitzel there but it’s not.  It’s Danish.  There are windmills.

I’ve decided that I’m jaded and grumpy.  The wedding was gorgeous in a field right next to a vineyard.  The groom was handsome and a little nervous.  The bride was beautiful and radiant.  The families were so proud and beaming.  The flower girls and ring bearer were ridiculously cute.  The view was perfect.  Every detail had been considered and the guests were well taken care of.

But as they recited their personally crafted vows, I turned into a cynic.  I started pooh-poohing their idealistic ideas and the lofty goals for their marriage.  I turned to Tere and said “Wait ten years and throw in two kids and let’s see if they still feel the same way.”  I whispered crack after crack to her throughout their vows.  Tere, of course, cried through the whole thing and kept smacking me to be quiet.  To her, they were beautiful and in love and perfect.  To me, they were on a downhill track and would never be able to recreate or maintain what they have right now.

I should tell you that we’ve had a rash of divorces happening around us.  We’re sort of confused by it.  Everyone always has a couple of friends who are serial monogamists and we’re no exception.  But these break-ups are 25-year marriages, 10-year marriages, straight and gay and all with kids.  It’s been challenging to say the least.  We keep discussing “why” or “why didn’t they” or “who is to blame”.  My favorite these days is “well I’d respect him more if he had done this or that.”  There really isn’t any sense you can make of it so I don’t know why we try.  People grow apart; they get distracted and take each other for granted.  They stop working at their relationship.  It just is.  No one tells you that your wedding is the high point.  That this marriage thing just gets harder and harder.  No one tells you that kids make it super difficult and magnify the differences between you and your spouse.

I felt terrible by the time we reached the reception.  What have I become?  A cranky, cynical married parent of two.  Wow, just what I want to invite over for dinner!  I knew I had to snap out of it somehow.  I had to do something.  If I didn’t, I could stay this way.  Tere would be married to an ogre forever!  I wanted to show Tere that I could still be that person she married; I could still surprise her with something simple and unexpected.

I decided to ask her to dance.  Two perfectly great songs went by.  I did nothing.  Why?  Because there was no one else dancing.  The crowd was fairly conservative and I was a little nervous that every eye would be on us.  When a third great song came on, I threw caution to the wind and grabbed Tere’s hand.  I’m sure there were a few funny looks and questions were definitely asked.  But I held her under the stars and for a moment, Tere remembered who I was and who she hoped I could still be.

By the end of the evening, I realized that we had spent all of our time with three couples in very different stages.  One 30+ year marriage with grown kids, one 10-year marriage trying for baby number two and a set of divorcees who found each other after long marriages that fell apart.  Every single one of them has struggled and sacrificed but they’re still here, making their way.

This thing we call life isn’t perfect but it’s ours.

 

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