I’ve had this post kicking around in my head for weeks, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to best get it all down in pixels.

A few months back, Jarak and I were having tasty beers with our friends Logan and Mariana. (They are our closest friends here in Schenectady, and Logan is going to be our officiant. We are in their wedding 3 months after ours.) Somehow the topic of divorce came up, and we realized that 100% of our parents, for all 4 of us, are divorced. Two of the dads have remarried, Jarak’s being one of them, but at the core, none of our biological parents are married to each other anymore.

My parents were married for almost 30 years. They were my role models for marriage. When they separated when I was 25, I felt like my world was ending. (That was also the summer of my car dying, and the very real possibility of shoulder surgery. Summer of 2008 sucked.)Growing up, I felt really proud that they were still together when the parents of my friends and my parents’ friends were getting divorced. I never thought it would happen to me.

It’s a very different thing to experience parental divorce as an adult than I expect it is to experience it as a child. While all of my friends who have divorced parents have had 10 or 15 or even more years to get used to it and for it to become the new normal, I’ve had about 4 years. The wound is still very fresh for me. And as such, the idea of getting married feels very scary, and very brave right now. And I’m absolutely terrified at this point.

I know multiple people my age, and maybe a bit older, who have been married and are already divorced. Someone recently posted to Facebook about how 50% of marriages end in divorce and that everyone should “save themselves the money that they would spend on  a sham wedding.”I read that and felt like I’d been hit. It wasn’t intended to hurt, but it did, because it brought out all of my insecurities and fears about making this huge commitment to this man who I am madly in love with.

I can write about this now, because I’ve talked to Jarak, and my dad, and other friends about my fears. I’m afraid I’m going to say or do hurtful, awful things. I’m afraid that when things get hard, I’ll want to run away and I’ll act on it. I’m afraid of forever. Because forever is HUGE. Like mind-bogglingly huge. Looking at wedding rings and realizing that we need to make good choices now, because these will be the rings that we wear for the rest of our lives. I’m not yet 30, my family lives well into their 90s. I can’t even wrap my brain around 60+ years with the same ring on my hand, let alone in a relationship with the same person. Don’t get me wrong, Jarak is absolutely who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but “forever” in the romantic abstract is very different than forever in the “I will be with this person from now until one of us dies.” It’s a big promise, and I worry if I can keep up my end of the deal.

We are writing our own ceremony, and our own vows. I’m beginning to understand why the traditional vows have “In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer.” among other things. It’s going to be important that we have something in our vows about sticking through the hard times, and that even if we don’t like each other sometimes, that we will still stick together. We’re a good team, and we’re really good for each other, but there may be a time when one or both of us feels like that’s not the case. My dad gave me some good advice today. He told me that we will hurt each other badly at times, and that we will have to learn to forgive, both Jarak and myself. I know that while I can forgive others fairly easily, it’s much harder to forgive myself.

Our wedding is the beginning of our marriage. And we’ve talked more about how we want our marriage to be, than how we want our wedding to be. I would do just about anything to make Jarak happy, and to take care of him. I’m reasonably certain he would do the same for me. I hope that going into this big huge commitment at 30, after being together for 4 years at that point, and being clear eyed about the idea that there are going to be parts that are really hard, will somehow fortify our marriage against the boogeyman of divorce. What is a wedding, but one of the biggest expressions of hope for the future any two people can do?

Advertisements