My Wedding, My Marriage
It’s my party and I cry if I want to…
That song just came to my mind. If taken into this writing’s context, it may not be true especially when it comes to your own wedding, your own marriage.
Some people have been using the terms wedding and marriage interchangeably. They are not the same. For the benefit of those who can’t tell the difference yet:
- They are spelled differently.
- Wedding is just “a day’s” event.
- Marriage lasts a lifetime.
So yes, they are not the same… Not at all… Now before we go on further, I would like to make it clear again that I am not an expert in marriage issues, neither am I a counselor in relationships and I’m certainly not a wedding planner, even though I planned my own.
Everything I will be sharing with you below are all based on my personal experiences (both mine and of others around me), and I am also assuming here that this happens more for those of the Chinese culture. So what I will be sharing may or may not apply to your situation, and I pray by God’s grace if and when it applies, it will help you in one way or another just as I have came to my own realization on these matters.
Wedding is a very big event, though marriage is even much bigger. These two… shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It’s NOT Just About You… Two
Most of the time couples who are about to get married would think that this is just about them. Something that is just between two individuals. Though in terminology and technically it may be true, but in reality, it is much bigger than the both of you.
You will be bringing together not just yourselves, but your families too. For those of you who have been married, I’m sure you would agree with me that most of the time spent planning for the wedding, doesn’t revolve a lot around you two.
Most of the time spent would be trying to make everyone else feel treated like very important people, making sure all your relatives are invited, and when they are invited you also need to make sure where they are sitting at the wedding dinner, which table, how close are they to you, is that table too near the toilets… *takes a deep breath*…
And if these aren’t stressful enough, you will also be topped with family politics, which uncle/aunty cannot get along with which relative, oh not forgetting which uncle or aunty is a vegetarian, then you will be caught working out how to serve that VIP that… that… special meal… or would you want to change the menu for that table vegetarian or the entire menu changed to vegetarian, then you being so very considerate would think if it affects the others on that table of how they would feel, will this arrangement offend them… and you have to also work with the restaurant or the hotel if they can make such an arrangement, and if they can’t, can you bring in food from outside… And it goes on…
Yes Abel, don’t get married! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that.
What I’ve been trying to do is to help you realize that these are some of the things that can be thrown at you. Instead of being shocked at that point when you cross that bridge, you can perhaps, prepare for it and minimize the “casualties”?
There are 3 issues I would like to share with you, which I personally believe they are very important things that you keep in mind.
3 pointers… B…
The whole process in planning for your wedding and working out your marriage can be a Battlefield!
It is true.
Your Partner & Yourself
Even though I just said in passing earlier that you will be bringing two individuals together, you are also bringing in your personal baggages as well into the relationship! Baggages in terms of your experiences, failures, disappointments, hurts, pains, addictions, etc. which will affect the new relationship that you will be getting into.
Nah Abel we have been dating for 8 years we have sorted them out.
If you’ve been feeling a wee bit unhappy and going all historian of something your girlfriend or boyfriend didn’t do during the past week, I can tell you, you haven’t.
When two individuals, of unique characters, personalities and background, may it be education, social exposure, experiences, families come together, there will be disagreement. There will be conflict. Someone will get hurt. The thing is this is that, Some times we enter into a relationship without first checking on our current condition in terms of mental readiness, emotional stability, maturity, etc.
The Bible has something to say about this, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Most of the time the speaker at the pulpit would just highlight on the faith (spirituality) part of this. Not many would touch on the character part of it. A little context on what Paul (the author of Corinthians) was trying to say.
The word “yoke” used by Paul was referring to that wooden block that is placed on the cattles’ neck which pulls that thing, whatever that you call it… to plough the field or land. This yoke thing, only works with two cattles… one on the left, the other on the right. Ideally the ploughing job would work when both of the cattles are of the same size, or build (stamina, strength). Now can you imagine what happens if one of the two cattles, are considerably smaller, or weaker than the other. Ploughing would be tough then cause it will tend to go sideways. When that happens, so will trouble.
It is important to remember that the both of you may not be on the same page of the relationship. The both of you may be of different opinions but that’s quite okay… What’s not okay is the goal or pinnacle that you both are striving to achieve together. It may be common to hear one partner is still working on his/her career stability, while the other feels it is time to settle down and bring new members to the family.
This is the part where Christine and I will encourage the both of you to attend a Marriage Preparation Course near you. A quick recap, these two are highly recommended by us: 1. “Before You Say I Do” by H. Norman Wright & Wes Roberts, or the 2. “The Marriage Preparation Course” by Alpha. We are blessed we did them both.
Your Family (And Your Extended One Too)
Let’s take this to a bigger scale…
Everyone will eventually be more excited than you yourself as you get deeper into the process. This is not cliché. They actually are… especially your family and friends. They are really wonderful people who you journey life with, some of them are even what you define as “life” itself. Treasure them!
The thing is… sometimes in the excitement of things going on around you, in the heat of all that is taking place, you might just lose it and blow (explode)… you might just blow out of frustration, you might be irritated by the simplest of things, your threshold for tolerance just went south side. That happened to me…
A wise man once said “Choose your battles, and win the war.” I guess that was one battle that I didn’t choose wisely. In fact I wasn’t thinking much, I was driven by emotions. Emotions may cloud your judgments. When you are emotionally unstable to sort things out, just take a walk… There’s a Chinese saying, you can simply eat, words you can’t simply say (direct translation). Cause words said can’t be withdrawn.
Yes… you will be going into a Battlefield. And you will be taking your battles at three different levels:
- Your partner
- Your family (and your extended one too)
Question is, will you trigger and blow?
Boundaries are very important and they should be defined at the very beginning to avoid conflict. Here are some ways on how you can define them:
- My Side
If you’re working on an arrangement that deals with your family’s side of things, it is best that you deal it yourself. Do not ask your partner to do it on your behalf just because he or she has been working on it day and night knows every detail. Do not even ask him or her to present the idea or plans to your parents as well. Your partner will always be seen as “not one of the family” (whether you like it or not). So, to have him or her to voice out on certain matters concerning your family’s side may be taken or seen as rude, especially for Chinese. Take charge, and spare your partner of the opinions and accusations that entail.
- Her/His Side
If there’s something you need to sort it out with your partner’s family, do not represent yourself. That’s suicide. For the same reasons above, pass the message to your partner to have it sorted out with his/her parents. Create room and space as well so that they have the privacy to iron things out together as a family.
- Whose Side
Certain arrangements like the Holy Matrimony (Wedding Service) on principle, is yours to decide. The both of you decide what you want, what you want to see, how you want it to be, what kind of door gifts to give your guest, what color theme… the both of you should call the shots after consulting your plans with the Pastor in-charge of the Church, and also the one who solemnizes your marriage (if it’s not the same person). If the matter to be looked at doesn’t clearly identify whose side it belongs to, then it should be looked by you two.
Another thing you should look at is the number of allocated dinner tables for your parents and your in-laws (to be). Unless you are the son or daughter of someone with a very high profile in society, you have the absolute say in telling your parents how many tables you are allocating to them for their siblings, relatives and their friends, if it’s 7 tables, 10 tables, etc. You can tell your parents that but, you have to ask your partner to find out how many tables his/her family side wants. You don’t go telling your partner’s parents how many tables they are allocated to.
Be open to listen to advice and ideas given. The final say still comes from you two. After all, I’m sure they mean you well. Remember though, if anyone wants to seek clarification, make sure it is the right person who is doing the explanation.
Boundaries help you to have full control over your wedding, and your marriage as well. I’m not trying to say to keep people out of your life during the process. What I’m trying to say is to be clear of everyone’s roles, and what is expected of them, take time and effort articulate them and have them stated in hard-copies if needed be so that they too will know how much to contribute or be involved in your plans. Less likely you’d step on someone’s tail this way.
It is good, if not best to have the blessings especially from your parents-in-law. It is not like you will not be seeing them ever again after you get married right? You will definitely still be seeing them after you get married. For Chinese, you’ll see them during Chinese New Year… You’ll also see them when you both have a new member coming into the family…
You will still be seeing them if you do not have a place to stay yet after your wedding (since you have just depleted most of your savings on it)… You will still be seeing them over celebrations as well e.g. birthdays, your child’s full moon, Thanksgiving, Christmas, what not…
It gets a little more serious when you are marrying the man’s daughter, especially when she’s the only one. You could probably imagine that you will be scrutinized from head to toe and bench-marked against the “worthy-bar”, being pre-judged on how stable or good a man you will be even though your wife-to-be has already approved everything about you but no matter what… you will not be good enough in his eyes…
The above can be how it can be on one side of the coin… Yours could be the other side of the coin which is the total opposite.
Something to Ponder
If you’re planning to get into a relationship and if you’re serious about it, marriage should be on your mind and one of the questions that you can start working on is, “How can you provide, on par, if not better than your father-in-law to be did, for his daughter?”… Who is so happens to be his princess too…
And for those who are going to marry someone’s son, you should also be ready to be compared with his mother, especially if he is also known as “mummy’s boy”.
If you’re planning or about to get married, I hope that you have the blessings from both families.
A Step Further
I’m a Christian, and we took our relationship a step further. We sought the blessings from our spiritual parents, and we also committed our relationship, our marriage before God.
We pray that… may our union together, will always be a living testimony, reflecting of His amazing love, grace and glory, before God and man.