This weekend, Ger and I traveled with a group to the Catskills to witness the start of friends Janet and Nuri new life together as a married couple in a gorgeous ceremony that would have filled Thoreau’s heart with gladness. For everyone making the trip, this was our second wedding in seven days—last weekend’s was an entirely lovely Celtic affair binding together two other people we love dearly. I understand that today, some other local acquaintances are to be wed. It has been a great month for love, amongst my expanded family.
I have always loved weddings, although the reasons for this have changed through the years. As a younger man, it meant booze (often free), food, and women (often lonely and looking for “companionship” for an evening). As I got older, it was my friends getting married, and weddings became a bittersweet time to bid adieu to their old roles in my life and usher in something new (and again with the food, booze, and dates). Once I had a family of my own, I was welcoming folks into a new fraternity with somewhat less partying and somewhat more gossiping about the exciting adventures of our single friends. Maturity, to my reckoning, was a boring, relentlessly quiescent state of being—punctuated by grown-up fights about money, chores, and decisions.
In the years following my divorce, I enjoyed the weddings no less than ever I did before—but I did so in a way that was heavy with cynicism and topped with a dollop of sadness. It was a party, but I knew with absolute certainty that none of these marriages could work in the same way that I knew that a glass thrown high into the air would inevitably crash to the ground, likely shattering in the process. Is there a thing called “gallows enjoyment?” If so, that’s how I enjoyed them.
I’m somewhat less cynical now, I’d like to think.
Now weddings are a celebration and a reminder. A celebration of the love of two people and their promise to do their best to express that love in the years to come, and a reminder that two and one-half years ago I made the same promise to an amazing woman.
Yesterday, when the officiant (or, as I heard him referred, the celebrant) enumerated the things that Nuri and Janet loved about one another, I remembered all of the things that made me fall in love with my wife: her laugh, and how quick she is with it; the way she feels things so deeply and is so willing to share those feelings with me, even when she is embarrassed or worried about them; the way she makes me feel like the kids and I are the most important people in the universe; and the way that she makes it so easy for even someone as lazy as me to show her I love her. So often, after she’s had a rough or emotional time, she apologizes for “being difficult” and I can’t even fathom what she means. I’m reminded that a healthy relationship means sacrifice, but it also means being so in love that your sacrifices don’t even seem to be.
Last weekend, while the minister was discussing the many facets of a marriage that require attention, I was reminded of the importance of presence. It is easy to forget what a powerful an expression of love can be found in a held hand, a hug, or choosing to do my work in the same room with my family. In the same way that my partner in life comforts me when I’m sick and is just there for me when I’ve taken too large a bite of life, I can be there when she struggles with worries about a nebulous future and offer solace when she feels unconfident or troubled. The comfort and strength derived from physical nearness astonishes me regularly.
This week of weddings hasn’t renewed my interest in my wife, I am far too in love with her for that to be even remotely possible. What it has done, though, is to freshen in my mind the places where I can be a better husband. I can remember that my strict planning of those things that I can control and casual acceptance of those I can’t do not come easily or happily to Ger, and that sometimes a few minutes of discussing my views can do wonders for her degree of confidence in the situations we face. I can keep ever in mind that, while her love for me often makes her enthused about the things that excited me, that enthusiasm is not for the actual object of my excitement, but for its effect on me; her amusement at my love of electronics doesn’t make electronics a great gift idea for her. Finally, I can recall how much visible joy it brings to Ger’s face when we are able to take the time to do something just for us, and do whatever I can to make it happen more often.
So I would like to take this time to wish Anna, Janet, Nuri and Ryan all of the best in the coming years. We love each of you only slightly less than you obviously each love your respective partners. Thank you each for allowing us to share in your special day, and for the reminder of how special my wife is to me…because, let’s face it, your nuptials should be all about me. I now return you to your regularly scheduled dick and fart jokes, sorry for the maudlin interruption.