Recently, I have been reminiscing about old friends that I have fallen out of contact with since leaving social media. After a few quick internet searches, I discovered that several happily married mommies had fallen in love, gotten married, had a child, then gone through a divorce, and won sole custody of the toddler, all within the span of three years. These were all women focused on self-improvement. They were the type to do the hard work when the work got especially hard. I can’t help but wonder what when wrong. Did they move too quickly, overlook too many red flags, or give up too soon?
And then I see relationships like my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and ever strangers, where they make staying in love look so easy. My relationship feels like that–after about two years of learning how to communicate and show love effectively, everything now feels effortless. When I taught yoga, one of my favorite themes was the balance between effort and ease. Lean in and go deeper, relax into that position, and then repeat. I think the same concept applies to relationships, whereby the small acts of love slowly build up to something beautiful and true.
A little over a year ago, I shared a post titled It’s Not About the Wedding because I believed and still believe, quite firmly that a wedding has no bearing on a marriage and that marriage is not a prerequisite for lasting love. Unfortunately, I think many people are relying on the wedding and the marriage to fix the things they dislike about their partner. Maybe he’ll be kinder to me once we’re married. Maybe he’ll stop cheating if his ring reminds him to be loyal. Maybe I’ll feel more confident in our relationship once three hundred guests have furnished our home with congratulatory messages. Let me tell you honey, that is not how it works.
Under our particular circumstances, there is a significant financial benefit to remaining unmarried for another four years. That will place us at around twelve years together before we even considering a legal marriage. Yet, as my boyfriend likes to tell people, “We have been married for over seven years. We just haven’t gotten around to telling the state yet.” Did I find myself a keeper, or what?! In the last week or two, I’ve been considering the idea of a micro-ceremony without the guest list or legal paperwork, for one simple and perhaps silly reason.
The hardest part of 2020 has been that almost all of my immediate and extended family live within twenty miles and I haven’t had the opportunity to see anyone due to the pandemic. Most years, I see everyone on a monthly basis for birthday, holiday, and barbecues. This year, my grandparents turned ninety and are, thankfully, still in pretty good health. I haven’t been able to see them face-to-face since last Christmas and I miss them. Of their ten grandchildren, none have been married or had children yet, and the eldest passed away from cancer. I hope that they have another ten years, but there is no way of knowing. There is a part of me that feels that, since my better half and I already consider ourselves married and likely won’t formalize anything for at least another four years, maybe the greatest gift we can offer my grandparents is to see a grandchild married… even if they are the sole attendees at the ceremony.
Perhaps they wouldn’t actually care about a ceremony, or maybe they simply already know: love is a journey, rather than a destination. It’s not a sprint to the wedding day, but instead a slow saunter towards happily married for 70 years. And if that’s the case, they have been right alongside us for the first tenth of our own love journey. We’ve shared food, laughter and stories many times over. Maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.
For anyone with children or grandchildren, I would truly appreciate any thoughts you may have. Is it silly or would it be special to host a tiny backyard celebration of love with those who may not be around to attend the larger, legal ceremony several years out? What about an extended proposal, so they can celebrate the engagement with us, even if they aren’t still with us to attend a future wedding? I feel so torn on the issue. While I really don’t care much for the idea of a wedding, I know it’s something that my boyfriend eventually wants (on a very small scale), and I suspect it’s something that might bring a lot of joy and pride into my grandparents’ lives.