Wedding Bells Won't Ring*

3:11 PM

Last weekend almost broke the two-month-long stretch of an engagement occurring every weekend. I checked with my roommate -- no engagements in her group of friends. Hmm. Monday rolled along...with a belated posting about so-and-so's engagement and the blurry, dark, red-eyed photos that Facebook always culls from the dredges of your tagged photos album. "Don't worry," I texted my roommate. "My friend group covered the necessary weekend engagement."

Along with the engagement announcements that come out every single weekend, wedding planning takes up much of my Facebook feed and extended social life. And with that comes much more heartache than should be involved in planning for the Big Day. Most of that is money. (Why? Why, Money? Why are you so elusive in reality and so ratcheted up in numerical form?) Price tag aside, wedding dreams drain you. They sometimes take forever to come true. They involve not only you and Prince Charming but also a whole host of opinionated people with different summer schedules.

Wedding plans seem so simple -- a matter of logistics. Pick a date, book a church, send out invitations. What doesn't get translated in The Knot magazine is that the perfect dream wedding at the perfect time in the perfect location -- shoot, any wedding -- determines how long you and your beau must wait before becoming husband and wife. Because that's the point of weddings for most friends and acquaintances stymied in their plans -- starting a life as one with your best friend.

Without getting into too many awkward and incriminating details, I wanted to get married the summer before senior year. Yeah. This summer. You better believe I went at it with all guns firing...just like the Type A control freak I am. In the past few months, I've seen this happen over and over again: future bride gets attached to her wedding plans. Future bride's wedding plans fall through. Future bride dissolves into devastated tears.

The stereotypical long engagements makes this devastation look trivial: "Sheesh, woman, I waited five, six, seven years to get married -- and you're upset because you have to wait a year or two?"

Have I written a post about the frustration of waiting for marriage? I think I've written several. I think I've imagined and experienced how awful that waiting is. A year sounds short on paper -- not so much in real life, when goodbyes, goodnights, and taboos crowd in on happy moments.

And that's why I'm writing this. Nobody's really written about this, but I think it's an important sorrow to recognize -- and a common one. It's real. It's painful. It looks melodramatic, selfish, petty, and a host of other unflattering adjectives...and maybe it is. But it's real. And it's different than other relationship frustrations.

Melodramatic, selfish, petty, and a host of other unflattering adjectives perfectly fit my reaction when wedding plans fell through. Painful, too. That's another good adjective. Betrayed. Confused. Frustrated. All good ones. I remained convinced for a while that other people were thwarting God's best plan for my relationship, that waiting would only damage our relationship further, that two more years would drag by agonizingly slow and miserable.

Once the entire thing ended, in a blunt, cold finale of no, this is not happening ever and I cried while driving back to school and my boyfriend sat awkwardly in the seat next to me, it was a relief. A relief to no longer fight. A relief to no longer try to figure out if delaying or pursuing marriage would be the best thing. I had my answer: no marriage for a long time. The only problem became Deal with it. Keep loving for however many years it takes. Love is simple like that.

It doesn't seem simple before the final no comes down. It seems like your life will crumble and your relationship will crumble and your emotions are already crumbling (no need to worry about those). But when the no comes, you can't kick against the goads. And you can't despise the boy with whom you're now doomed to wait for several years. You just keep loving.

Honestly, this season of the relationship has been the best so far. Now that I was no longer freaking out about how to get my marriage plans rolling and dominating couple conversations with wedding details and just in general being boring, annoying, and stressy about it, I turned my attention to fixing another problem: my attitude toward my boy. At the same time I pushed for a marriage, I went crabby, pushy, unkind, and frustrated. It's hard planning a tentative wedding and maintaining a solid relationship at the same time. It's hard to love in the real life when you've got your head in the clouds.

I started loving him -- really loving him, with classic kindness, patience, and a listening ear. I let him spend weekend nights playing games with his friends and weekday nights working on homework in his favorite study places -- I didn't need to worry about getting enough "quality time" with him because we were single and going to be. Funny thing...the less I controlled and demanded and criticized, the more he wanted to be by my side. We laughed more, talked more. He began telling me random stories about his high school days. We discussed more important things than how to spin our plea for marriage so that people would agree to it.

And I learned that we, as a couple, needed to work out things. Communication things, theology things, personal preference things -- things that got set on the backburner, outshone by the excitement of impending nuptials.

Even if the ideal engagement should be short and the ideal dating relationship last around a year, even if purity is hard to maintain and goodbyes are hard, even if boundaries become a pain and even if you're tired of waiting around for marriage...God's plans transcend that. There are always ways to love each other. There are always ways to grow. I can confidently say that I'm glad we're waiting. I am confident that it is God's will. I am glad for it. Yes...I think that waiting is the best decision. After all, a lifetime with the one I love is worth years of waiting.

*A line from The Drowsy Chaperone, the most ridiculous musical ever with a monkey motif that drives me ape. (Also another line from the most ridiculous musical ever.) I'm in this musical, incidentally. And I sing the song with the labored monkey motif.

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3 impressions

  1. This was quite beautiful. Starting at around the age of thirteen, but revving up when I was fifteen or sixteen, I desperately wanted to get married by the time I was eighteen. The thought of being almost twenty-two (my age right now) and NOT being married? I couldn't stand it!
    I spent so much time wanting to get married ... dreaming about meeting the Right One ... thinking about my wedding ... being semi-depressed because I didn't really know anyone who might be a potential husband ... and on and on, that I feel like I wasted at least three years of my life pining. You should read some of my diary entries from that time period. Actually, you shouldn't, lol :)
    And then, after two relationships in a two year period didn't work out, instead of being depressed, I felt relieved. Somehow, suddenly, I had become content to just ... live. To enjoy my family, learn new things, have new experiences.
    I can't say I don't want to get married, that's not true. But it is true that I am almost 100% content. There are some days when I get that twinge of desire for things to hurry up, but I feel like I've taken a huge step lately in treating other young men as people instead of just potential husbands; I can talk to them without being shy, smile without getting all awkward, and part without thoughts of, "Does he like me? Maybe, maybe, maybe ..."
    So all of that was to say, I totally get where you're coming from, even though we both have different circumstances in life. Contentment is so sweet that I look back at the hurried, discontent time of my life with regret and a bit of horror.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and your story, Anonymous! I love how God orchestrates our lives differently but then brings us together to encourage each other from our life perspectives!

  3. I'm sorry your plans fell through. Or rather, I know that must have been painful and I don't like to see you hurting, but I also think you are making the right decision to wait. I'm glad you seem to have come to peace with that.



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