Whomever shall object at this wedding shall….
A friend of ours threatened his daughter and fiance with disruption of their pending wedding if…..
(Yet — before we go on with this truthy tale, you need to know that our friend is very happily married, has kids of different ages, and she and her husband have been married before. They’ve seen the dark side of marriage, divorce, single parenting and dating. They’re not exaggerating when they say they’ve seen and lived through it all; including the ugly side of parental alienation, loss of a child who thinks their parent abandoned them (but, didn’t), same-age children cousins (of the former spouse) who no longer speak to or even acknowledge that their former close cousin is alive, hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, he said/she said tales of misery, and everything good, bad and ugly — short of actual physical death of a child). Our friend is a good spouse (we believe) and an exceptional parent (we know). Whew…..Divorce with kids is easily hell on earth, lasting years and even decades.)
So here’s what happened:
Our friend’s daughter announced their engagement over the phone. Congratulations were given all around, laughter and smiles heard and shared; and best wishes for a long life of happiness. Our friend bit her lip (HARD!) because she and every other adult in their family knew it wasn’t going to be a good match. But, it wasn’t their choice to make, so instead they sucked it up and gave their best phone performance on record.
A few days later our friend phoned her daughter and asked what she called one of the toughest questions I’ve heard asked anyone, ever: “Honey, I know you both have so much in common and really love each other, but you’ve seen how the best intentions in marriage don’t always end up so happy. And, it’s not just your father and me; it’s tens of millions of couples of all kinds, including your generation and people with values, interests, intelligence and good senses of humor like you guys.” Silence we’re told followed for more seconds that seemed like hours.
Then, “What is it, mom? What are you trying to tell me?”
Our friend blurted: “I’m asking you to get some counseling from anyone of your choice before you go another week towards your wedding. Choose anyone who has real experience with couples and not just with individuals. I don’t care if it’s a he, she or them. I don’t care if they’re religious or not; black or white. You choose. We’ll pay if you want. And, all we want is for you two to have at least three sessions over a month’s period. Your therapist will know what to ask, if they’re any good. And, you’ll know what to answer, because you are good. But if you don’t ask the elephant-in-the-room questions that you assume you’ve already asked each other, you’re really/really likely to end up on the divorce dumpheat wondering what the hell happened to us. It’ll probably take a couple of years, and maybe a house and a kid or two before you both wake up and realize you missed the signals, the obvious things you now see, but you would never have paid attention to as they really were back when you were engaged. If you don’t want to see a therapist, have invite all your friends to meet the both of you (or, even just you alone) for the purpose of asking any question they think about. They won’t be shy once someone starts off with an obvious question which they see all too clearly. Your friends love and care for you and they’ll tell you the truth if you ask them to ask you about the truth. If you don’t like that, there are some scientific tests you can take at home and keep private from everyone, including me. Whatever you choose, choose something. Please!”
“Mom, I don’t know if we’re going to do what you’re suggesting. I know you want the best for us, but we know what’s right for us, and we’ve been through a lot already. We’re battle-tested and we really love each other.”
“Honey, there’s obviously no reasoning I can give you that you’re going to listen to, so I’m going to tell you something that I think is horrible and obnoxious and if I were to see anyone ever do such a thing, I think I’d think they were cruel or unhappy or something was wrong with them. But, I think it’s about the only thing I can think of that will get through to you how mistaken I think you are: If you don’t tell me that you’re going to do any of the above suggestions, or come up with something else which helps you two get to the bottom of your issues, then here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to come to your wedding. And, when it gets to the part where whomever is doing your wedding asks your friends and relatives if anyone has anything to object because now is the time, that’s when I’m going to stand up and tell everyone what I think.”
“Mom, you wouldn’t! Would you? And, if you swear you’re going to do that, we just might not invite you.”
They married. Mom and relatives did not attend. Daughter and mom continued to talk all the way leading up to the wedding, the day of the wedding (before and after) and many times afterwards. The marriage was in 2010. Another blog entry will tell what happened, but all names will remain confidential; not to protect any ‘guilty’ party; just because those kinds of facts are not needed to tell the tale. Stay tuned…..