Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Wedding Daze

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Wedding Daze

Article excerpt

My husband and I make every attempt to raise our strong-willed and athletic 13-year-old daughter without regard to stereotypes of gender. Imagine, then, my shock to discover that she is already planning her wedding. Last week, as she and I were preparing dinner, she was "helping" in her usual style, leaning against the work-island and unloading the dishwasher with agonizing slowness.

Fork . . . clink

Knife . . . clink

Spoon . . . clink

No clink.

Noticing the silence, I turned to find her staring off into space, her attention focused on a picture that only she could see.

"Mom, when I get married I want it to be in September." She then went on to describe her dress, how her hair would be styled, what her bridesmaids would wear, and, of course, the horse and carriage that would take her to and from the church. I found this last detail unsettling, as we live in what used to be the church parsonage. Our home is literally next to the church.

I was enthralled as she drew me into her world, stunned by the completeness of the picture she was creating of herself and this perfect day--all from a child who can barely be bothered to match her socks!

Our daughter will have many years to embellish this fantasy. So many that I fear that when "Mr. Right" comes along, this carefully nourished seed will burst forth like a monster from one of the movies. Such is the monster that can drive even the sanest of couples and families to the brink of war and financial ruin. This picture of the perfect day, immortalized forever in the wedding book, is like the pull of gravity--impossible to resist.

Our daughter isn't yet able to see the connection between her wedding day and marriage. In fact, when I asked about her vision of her perfect husband, she gave me that long, withering look that adolescents seem to reserve only for their mothers--the one that reminds us how utterly stupid we are. Her picture of her perfect day has nothing to do with marriage. No, somehow the groom will fit into the picture, an expensive fashion accessory. She is working, at 13, on this one piece of her life, her wedding day, with little regard for how it fits into the rest of her life.

The crazy quilt of life

The wedding day is but one of the many pieces of a marriage quilt. As a lover of quilts from early on, I have always been especially drawn to the Amish, who craft their quilts with meticulous care. Each quilt contains one deliberate mistake as a reminder that perfection flows only from God and that to seek perfection as humans is futile. These quilts, like a great marriage, are not beautiful in spite of this mistake or mishap but include this imperfection as an integral part of their beauty. Although our daughter can't yet see the connection, marriage is about love, and one of love's many forms is humor, most especially the humor found around the everyday mishaps of life.

As our daughter continued to paint her picture of the perfect day, I remembered our own wedding, others I've attended, and the many stories I've heard as a marital therapist of mishaps that enriched and added color and vibrancy to that first day of marriage.

Here are some of my personal favorites.

My friends Betsy and Michael were having a large, outdoor ceremony at their family's summer home. As a guest and friend, I was helping decorate the tables and noticed they needed more flowers. I decided to go out and gather more and was surprised when Betsy said she wanted to come with me as it was little more than an hour before the ceremony. Knowing that time was short only heightened the sense of two kids playing hooky from school as we pulled out of the driveway and headed for lovely country fields to gather the summer bounty of daisies, cornflowers, and lilies. The day was so beautiful and the flowers so vibrant that time evaporated. The station wagon was brimming with flowers and heady smells when we arrived back at the house to find the guests assembled and waiting patiently for the bride. …

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