I recently read an article about a woman and her wedding that she canceled.
The bride wanted a lavish wedding. It was a very big deal for her to enter her marriage with the obligatory fairytale celebration. Once she finalized her plan, she figured the cost. Although she desperately wanted her elaborate wedding, she realized she could not afford the event. So she did something she thought was clever. She sent out invitations with one stipulation. She asked each attendee to pay $1,500.00 to attend her wedding.
As I read this article, I considered her request absurd and self-indulgent. I thought, Perhaps if she weren’t so greedy and asked for a donation vs. a wedding gift, she may have been pleased with the outcome. She would have at least been able to offset her cost a little bit. I also thought about Bob’s and my wedding.
As I learned forty-eight years ago this Sept. 5th, it isn’t the actual wedding ceremony that matters. Instead, what does matter are the years of marriage after the ceremony.
I was twenty-two when I met Bob. I met him the very first night after moving from my parent’s home in New Jersey to Washington, D.C. I planned to work for the Federal Government for one year, then enter a program where the Government would send me overseas to work. I wanted to relocate to Brussels, Belgium. Although at twenty-two, I was unaware of my behind-the-scenes’ reason, I now realize I wanted, no, I needed to move as far away from my parents as I possibly could. I needed to find out who I was and what I was capable of accomplishing. I was never a prisoner of my past. I absolutely refused to become a prisoner of something I had no control over. I was me, not him. I always looked forward and dwelled in the sunshine of life. That was what I chose for myself! My father lived in a dark, dingy, corrupt world all by himself. I lived in another world, my own world I created, then, with Bob, we created. My father tried to destroy me, but I called his bluff and became independent, happy and married to the most incredible man on this planet. Oh, I never made it to Brussels. However, with Bob, I did indeed move as far away as I possibly could from my parents and my childhood.
I was the oldest girl of six offspring. For as long as I could remember, my parents promised me a big wedding. That never happened. Instead, and because I embraced my freedom with far too much eagerness, my parents turned their backs on me. I married a man who, at age eighteen, married a young girl with whom a pregnancy had occurred. Doing the right thing, Bob married the young girl. That marriage ended in divorce not too long after.
I was raised in the Catholic Church, yes, the one that is populated by pedophiles. I was molested from the age of six until I can’t recall when, not by a priest, but, by a man, who intended to become a priest. After spending a short time in a seminary, the man returned home to marry the woman he met before leaving for the seminary. That man was my father. The woman was my mother.
When I announced that I would marry Bob, it was a given that, to stay in good graces with my parents, we would marry in the Catholic Church. However, the sinful Catholic Church was also the most judgmental of all organized religions as it banned marriage between a Catholic and a divorced person. However, in 1970, there was a loop-hole.
If Bob renounced his daughter, in the eyes of the Church, his marriage would be considered annulled, thus canceling out his marriage. Bob was willing to do that for me. He wanted to marry me. At the time, we had no idea what was to happen only a month later. However, I refused to cave into what I considered a despicable request. I was not about to start my marriage with cruelty. I considered it cruel to label Bob’s daughter as a bastard daughter, thus, we announced to my parents that we would not marry in what I considered the obnoxious Catholic Church. Instead, our ceremony would take place in a Unitarian Church. That church’s pastor would perform the ceremony. That was the end of my big wedding.
Nonetheless, we invited my parents. They did come to our wedding but intentionally dressed in casual old clothes. They were there for one reason only. They wanted to see if I would follow through on marrying outside of the Catholic Church. I suspect they hoped that their presence would intimidate me into backing out of the ceremony and walking away from Bob. They, especially my father, were extreme arrogant individuals who had no business getting married in the first place. More, they were so inadequate as individuals, they should never, ever have had children, let alone, six children.
Hoping they would come to celebrate our marriage, Bob and I bought corsages for them, and my grandmother, who accompanied my parents. However, my parents refused to accept the corsages. Instead, they were hostile toward the pastor who offered the flowers to them. Also, they had so brainwashed my younger sister, Colleen, with disparaging words about what I was doing and the mortal sin I was committing, that, in the middle of the ceremony, Colleen had to rush out of the Church. She left because she needed to throw up.
I wanted a white dress for my wedding but knew neither Bob nor I could afford a wedding dress. I was resigned to accepting a more humble wedding when my older brother stepped in. He had just received a settlement from a former employer, so he offered to pay for my wedding dress. Additionally, Danny walked me down the aisle. Later, we had a small reception held at Danny’s apartment. Two ironies occurred after we married.
The first irony took place on the evening Bob, and I returned from our honeymoon which we spent camping in a farmer’s pasture in West Virginia where we spent several previous weekends caving, i.e., spelunking, in the wild caves of West Virginia. That evening, Bob’s father called to tell Bob that, due to child abuse, his daughter, Kim, had been removed from her mother’s home. Not only was she removed, but Bob’s father put pressure on Bob to fly out to California where Kim, her mother and mother’s boyfriend lived, to bring Kim back to the Washington D.C. area and his new marriage.
When Bob and I were to be married, we decided that we did not want children. That decision was more my decision than his. Years later I learned that my decision resulted from the trauma I endured at the hands of my father. Without realizing, I suffered from PTSD which haunted me into my forties for what my father did to me. However, knowing Kim’s situation, I didn’t tell Bob not to go to California, thus, one month after marrying Bob, I became a mother of a seven-year-old, who, and resulting from suffering abuse was a very difficult child to raise. We would learn later that Kim was deaf in one ear resulting from being struck by the boyfriend using his beer bottle on the side of her deaf ear.
The second irony occurred in April of the following year. My younger sister, Colleen, who had flunked out of college, decided to marry a young man she met at college. She would have the wedding denied me. Several months earlier, my father, a U.S. Naval officer, had been reassigned to the Pentagon just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. My parents were now living in one of the suburbs.
Bob, Kim and I were visiting my parent’s new home that evening during which wedding plans were discussed. Colleen and my parents asked me to be Colleen’s Maid of Honor. No one considered my feelings; but, that was normal in my family. However, I was so hurt, that I did express my feelings as I also refused to play a part in her wedding. Bob, Kim and I attended the wedding. However, we did not engage with my parents as we, my parents, Bob and I were in the midst of a cold war that lasted for several years.
There’s also a third irony that followed. I am one of six siblings. I am the only off-spring for whom a wedding was not paid for by my parents. They did, in fact, foot the bill for each of their five children, including both boys. Ironically, all five of my siblings have divorced the spouse the ceremony celebrated and, except for one brother, remarried. On the other hand, I am still married to and very much in love with my first and only husband, Bob.
On September 5th, Bob and I will celebrate our 48th Wedding Anniversary. That’s not only an event. Instead, it’s also a genuinely joyous affair. Bob and I are not only husband and wife, but we’re best of friends and have been each other’s cheerleaders for all forty-eight years. Those forty-eight years annulled the manner in which our marriage began. We know what is important and what is not important.
No wedding, regardless of the lavishness or expense, can compare to the solid bonds that we have formed over all these years. Forming those bonds, however, comes with a solid dedication to the love we first felt for one another. That dedication requires lots of work as we worked through the tough times. We did the work, and now we are about to celebrate the result of that work. We both hope there are many more years to enjoy with each other as we grow old, wrinkled, and slower physically and mentally. It’s not only a feat to celebrate 48 years together; it’s a glorious feat.
Someone recently commented to me, “Wait until Bob is around constantly, you will get sick of him.” My dogged answer: Bob and I have not only been married for forty-eight years but, during those forty-eight years, we’ve done everything together. When Bob goes to car races or car shows, I go too. When Bob began riding a motorcycle, I not only rode on the back but, I purchased a motorcycle so we could fully enjoy our adventures together. Bob has always accompanied me as we did things I like to do. That includes everything except shopping. Ha, ha, I go by myself, but, Bob is with me even then. He never complains about anything I buy for myself. As I am for Bob, he’s a true friend and my most loyal supporter. Several weeks ago, I spotted and purchased a plaque that resonated with me. It reads, “When I first saw you, I knew an adventure was about to begin.”
❤… HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BOB …❤
Life with you has been a magnificent adventure. You are my one and only hero!