I have been in three weddings in the past five months. I’m at that age where my friends and family members are starting their lives with loved ones, despite me being six years into the fray. I say that lightheartedly, of course, as I love being married, but it’s been a unique experience recently watching people I love marry the people they love.
Each time I was taken back to my own wedding. Some moments I thought about ways we could have hosted our wedding better, usually inspired by something the wedding I was currently attending was doing — like a photo booth two of the three this year hosted for silly pictures to liven up the night, or the shuttles to and from the wedding site for guests to start and end the festivities. But most moments I just thought to myself, “I’m so lucky to have been where they are now, and to still be happily married today.”
Since the Fourth of July I’ve been a verse reader in my sister’s ceremony, a groomsman in a friend’s, and gave what I like to think was a rousing speech during the ceremony of another friend’s wedding. All three weddings were completely different. The crowds were different, the feel was different, even the food, music and overall atmosphere was different. But through them all one thing was exactly the same. There was love in the air and everyone in attendance could sense these were lifetime commitments being made between two mature adults who took their time planning a life together.
I don’t think I can stress that enough. Look, I’m not naive enough to believe divorce isn’t a possibility for folks. I’ve seen it be a viable resort for some relationships, and I’ve seen remarriages after last as long as I’ve been alive. I’ve seen new families blossom because of such instances, and lifetime bonds made that are more unbreakable than “blood” in other families. But I’ve also seen a lot of marriages fail simply because people didn’t take the time to think, “Is this a good idea?” or “Should we give this relationship time to grow before we jump the gun?”
The above-mentioned weddings are not those situations. I was inspired witnessing these nuptials, and honored to have played any part in process. These were good people getting what they deserved. And that’s how it should be.
I can only hope that in some small way I’ve inspired them too, and not in the “well now I know what not to do” kind of way. I like to think that’s why I was invited to be a part of the festivities in the first place. Because while the focus of my marriage is definitely on my wife, and now my kids, I also want it to be a reminder to all around us of how great it all can be.
In an age where marriages are a 50-50 shot statistically to last, and weddings are no longer a “once in a lifetime” ordeal, my wife and I are still chugging along like “The Little Engine That Could,” saying “we think we can, we think we can” as we watch other relationships fail around us. We have been tested, and will again, but we’re fighters, and we’re still standing. The honeymoon has been over for quite a while — our children have made sure of that — and we’re in that grind where stress can be at an all-time high. It takes a solid bond between us to overcome life’s challenges, and we absolutely must do it together to persevere. I like to think we’re starting to get that down.
I know we’ve got a long ways to go. “Till death do us part” means I’ve got another 50 years of work cut out for me, if I’m lucky. And so far I have definitely been lucky.
At all three weddings I wished the bride and groom the same. I’m completely confident, based on the people in them, that these marriages are on the path to a long and happy life. But like any marriage, they’re gonna take a lot of work, and hopefully, as much luck as I’ve gotten along the way.
“There’s glory waiting for you, but you have to stand up and fight for it!” I shouted at the bride and groom from the podium during my speech as a coach giving a pep talk at my friend’s sports-themed ceremony. “You have to claw inch-by-inch, foot-by-foot, until you reach that end zone. Once you do, there’s a whole lot of happiness waiting there for you. You can spike the ball, do your end zone celebration and even smack your teammate on the rear if you want, but put all that time and commitment you’ve already given to good use and reach your full potential today.”
They started that process that day, and I fully expect them to be continuing it in 50 years right alongside us.
Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.