joy · love · relationship

Treacherous Weddings

Perilous weddings!

Chasms revealed, rages flare

Conflicts to great lives

Weddings join lives. Treasured family and friends celebrate the courageous leap into a partnered fate, whatever fortune may bring or be summoned to create. Guests may dance, exult, drink way too much champagne and make terrible memories, spend time with friends, and enjoy a terrific party.

A genuinely joy-filled wedding day can be an astonishingly risky time — not just for those taking the leap; they get to grip hands tightly, smile, and embrace inevitable snafus and chaos. A glorious wedding day is especially dicey for those conflicted or uncertain of their significant person. They may know that it’s time to break up and move on, but they aren’t that heartless: their date invested money and time and effort in this day and is counting on their company, so why not wait until after, when it’s easier to say goodbye and slouch off into the distance?

Unrestrained joy holds up a mirror for a clear view of who you are, where you are now, and what you want from life. It can offer brilliant, heartening warmth as well as profound sorrow at loss, illness, or financial setback. Just basking in boisterous joy can bolster the courage needed to send in that application, to break off the relationship that doesn’t make your heart soar, to take that trip with your parents that no one knows will be the last one that you take together. A wedding transforms everyone, from the just legally partnered to newly formed families and unwieldy roles as in-laws, awkward others coming apart or coming together.

We all need this glowing joy and ebullience. The diagnosis is no less dire, but a little less prominent, if only for a few hours. The showdown at work, the dumb roommate, the soul-sucking facts of everyday life are set aside for music, dancing, delicious food, friends you don’t see nearly often enough. The small breath of respite in genuine connection helps make it bearable.

We went to an effervescent, joy-filled wedding last weekend. Those hours sing in my heart — and I’ve been spouting about it all week. Even from a great distance, not knowing the happy couple or being anywhere close to the beautiful venue, every listener grins, glows, and sends their best wishes (which is why I’m going to keep on raving about it for a long time to come).

That’s the way of weddings: perilous challenge to uneasy status quo, joy-filled confirmation of life choices, or even excuse to hang out with friends in pretty dresses and enjoy bourbon. These public celebrations of an extraordinary personal joy ultimately enrich us all, no matter what happens.

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