From Here To The Stars

Ok, I didn’t get all melty and weepy here about the inauguration two weeks ago, because I was too busy getting melty and weepy (and um, drunk) in real life to write about it.* But two weeks after the swearing in, it’s starting to sink in enough to write about it. And have you SEEN these pictures of the Obama family?
Yeah. That’s what I thought. It’s ok. Take a moment to go wipe your eyes on your sleeve, and then sniffle abashedly and look at them again.

Ready now? Ok.

So, in preparation for our pre-marital counseling sessions that start in March, I’ve been thinking about some of the underlying assumptions I have about marriage. Both David and I are lucky enough to come from long and happily married sets of parents so by and large we have a pretty healthy perspective about marriage. But, I’ve discovered, that somehow, deep down, I’m harboring some negative ideas about marriage that I’ve picked up from our culture at large. They are icky and strange, but I suspect I’m not alone on these, because unhappy and unhealthy messages about marriage are pounded into our heads every day. So let’s just get them out on the table, shall we?

Icky Ideas We Are Force Fed About Marriage:

  • Getting married? Good luck. Half of all marriages fail, and half of the ones that last are desperately unhappy.
  • Once you get married it’s all about having kids, and being parents. Forget about having a rewarding relationship, because you’re going to live for your kinds, and give up your life. Heck, most days, you won’t shower or change out of your sweats.
  • Enjoy your looks now, babe, because you are about to let yourself go.
  • You get married and you gain 25 pounds. Done.
  • You get married, you get bored with each other, and bored with life in general.
  • Enjoy your fiancĂŠ’s attention, because once your married he’s only going to care about football.
  • Have a blow out wedding day because this is YOUR day, YOUR time, YOUR magic princess moment. Live for this, because it’s all downhill from here.

Cue the screaming and running away: AAAAAAHHHHHHH!

The more I think about it, the more I think that our societal disastrous assumptions about marriage are part of our societal obsession with weddings. It’s the pinnacle of our lives! Live it up! Live it up! Watch people living it up! Spend spend spend! Focus on this, because THIS IS IT.

Which brings me back to the Obamas. It is truly, deeply, delightful to see a couple thrust into the national spotlight who are so visibly loving, so happy, so supportive, and so successful. Yup. I said successful. Both of them. Because it’s rare that we see a couple that is happy and in love *and* has two partners that are successful.

It seems to me, that the point of marriage is to support each other when we fail, but also to be there to push each other up, to challenge and inspire each other. We should be supporting each other, encouraging each other, pushing each other. The safety of marriage should provide us the extra support we need to take risks, to take on big projects, to work hard, to reach high. Our wedding day should be an important day in our lives not because it is the high point of our life, of our looks, and of our happiness. Our wedding day should be an important day because of its promise. It should signal the beginning to a powerful partnership, of shared risks, of challenges. And maybe, one day we have kids, and that will add to our shared joys, shared challenges, and our calling to do things with our lives that have meaning.

When we look back, I hope we don’t think “that was the day when I was the happiest,” but “that was the beginning of the richest, deepest, and happiest part of my life.”

Let the Obamas serve as our inspiration today. Our wedding is the first step of a powerful partnership. From here to the stars.

*I try not to wear my politics on my sleeve, but um, I know you didn’t think I was one of those two pro-gay marriage McCain supporters, right?

Pictures via the Huffington Post

Featured Sponsored Content

  • hahahaha. Seriously- the things we are force fed about marriage- you are so spot on. Isn’t it ridiculous?!

  • Hi, everyday I come visiting, reading and seeing the beautiful photos you always have here, but I’ve never commented.
    Now I couldn’t agree more with you.
    Beautiful words!

  • Laura

    You’re so right–I was freaking out in a movie theater this weekend as a trailer was telling me (not implicitly, but in almost exactly these words) “No man wants to get married.”

    A slightly reassuring note: the statistic of half of all marriages ending in divorce is quite old, and no longer accurate. Now it’s rather less. Perhaps we have learned from our elders. And the risk for each marriage is quite different. Interestingly, two of the best predictors for whether a marriage will end in divorce is the woman’s age at the time of the marriage, and her level of education. As each of those numbers rises, the risk of divorce falls. Apparently, couples where both members are successful and happy (and where the woman had a good idea of who she was and what she wanted before entering the marriage) are indeed more stable!

  • What a lovely post! so well put. It’s still ages till our wedding, but I often find myself getting nervous that it’ll be “the end” of something – i’m not sure of what, but it’s an unpleasant feeling. Revolutionary Road isn’t helping either.
    Have you been to this blog?:
    I think these two are a pretty good inspiration for a married couple who haven’t lost anything by marrying.
    You’ll be fine! all those force-fed myths are just negativity… try to ignore them!

  • Marriage seems to be going through a weird culture shift (as well as being parents). While it used to be considered the only proper way to live as an adult in a functioning society now people who get married are viewed as an anachronist, something more “civilized” people have come over.

    It is a strange war the media sure loves to perpetuate as much as it can. And it sure does love using that much maligned and false statistic (I think I’ve heard in reality marriages are more at about 70% to survive, but thanks to some fancy math people can make it seem to be 50%).

    Though who knows, after all these economic woes maybe we’ll have another Greatest Generation and marriage will be the ideal again. Society is like a fickle teenager sometimes.

  • This is my first comment from a long time reader. This post really put things perfectly thank you. And some of it is very vow worthy! From here to the stars… the photos of the Obamas are so lovely too.

  • I feel better already after reading Laura’s comment. But I also think you get to make your own happiness, so if it’s that lovely Obama trust and intimacy that you guys want–with the sweet forehead-touching and everything–I know that’s what you’ll have. Very best to you while you work through those questions together, so that you don’t end up in the place you’re dreading.

  • I am a huge fan of the Obama’s, nice post!

  • I think a lot of our misconceptions about marriage come from television, like that television show “King of Queens.” I remember one episdoe from a few years ago where the wife was depressed because she couldn’t fit into her wedding dress anymore, and she thought the passion was gone from her marriage. Nevermind all the arguing that those two did.

  • I’m glad to see I’m not the only one feeling introspective today! I totally agree with you on the icky ideas…I am sick and tired of hearing how our life is going to go down the tubes after we’re married! I have decided just to ignore (and pity!) the people who say those kinds of things, and remain committed to the strength of our own “powerful partnership.”

  • Great writing! If we were going to think about our wedding day as the happiest day of our lifes, I’m not sure I would like to get married. Instead, as you wrote, I’m looking forward to the day where I and my boyfriend start a new chapter of our lives together.

  • The sentiment of your post hits home. I just had my first session of marriage prep and it was refreshing. Hopefully yours goes well too.

    I can’t agree with you more about the misconceptions about marriage that are proliferated by the media, not to mention that most of the sensational Hollywood gossip focuses on the demise of relationships.

    I wish there was more media attention focused on successful marriage, communication and support. It is encouraging to read about real values and brides who are not divas with unrealistic expectations.

  • I love you for telling the truth. I got married in July, and now I’m fat. Okay, not FAT, but like I’ve gained weight that I didn’t ask for. Married life is a blast (sans kids, hehe — well, for now) and now I’m trying to get back in shape. Love your site:) And those pics of the Obama family are great! I loved Michelle’s dress at the ball!

  • you know i read an article on happiness in the new york times that said that the happiest people were the happily married ones. i suppose this doesn’t help people who are in unhappy marriages. anyway we’re all subject to the ridiculous messages from pop culture, but it seems that you’re more thoughtful than most. so you should have every confidence that you and your fiance will be included in that happily-married category.

  • You are so right about the image of marriage we’re fed, Meg. I’m so glad to have my fiance’s parents and my own grandparents as a reminder that two people really can stay in love for 60+ years. And the Obamas are such a beautiful couple and a beautiful family. The way he looks at her blows me away.

  • Anonymous

    I stop by everyday to get inspired and see all the wonderful photos, never once have I commented but today…Wonderful, just like poetry!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Obama opposes gay marriage.

  • Wow. Beautifully written. And way to capture some of the icky unarticulated social messages that keep me awake at night. So much of what society tells us is that marriage is the end of things – fun, freedom, fitness, travel, etc. That’s really been getting me down. The Obamas are great role models for partnership, support, and acheivement.

  • I have to say that seeing how wonderful the Obamas are together has motivated me to step up my marriage game! They are truly inspiring.

  • Amen. The Obamas make me a bit giddy, I’ll admit it. It’s just so cute to see them together. They seem so practical and loving, without being super serious about everything.

    I think those marriage myths are part of the reason why I spent years being petrified at the thought of marriage. Aren’t they depressing?

  • I love how much Barack loves his wife and wants to show her all the time… that is the sign of a man in love! I love it. Admire it… and so glad i’ve found that in my own FH! :) Great post!

  • So much emphasis is put on the wedding day that some are often left with a “now what” feeling afterwards. The wedding day is just a day, a day to celebrate yes, but still just a day in the end. The true meaning is found in the marriage and partnership. Thank you for today’s post and reminding us of the beauty that comes after the wedding day. Have a great day! :)

  • I think the bit about being successful is especially rockin. Those pics make me get far too close to my ‘puter screen. Thank you for getting these out there, Meg.

  • LOVE the photos of the Obamas, so touching!

  • I agree with you a 150% the thing that excites me so much about marrying my fiance is that he is me best friend, we can talk about anything and have our own inside jokes, and we know how very very precious life is and finding someone we love and loves us back esp as two transgender people this is awesome. As you have said the thing that excites me almost to tears about my wedding is that it is the beginning of our life together as one unit of love and happiness.

    also I posted in my wedding blog the front of my engagement announcement I was wondering if you would give me your thoughts, I respect you opinion very much.

  • “Our wedding day should be an important day because of its promise.”

    That is exactly, exactly what I want communicated in my wedding.

    Thank you.

  • Poo-poo on this!

    My parents have been married for almost 18 years. They still hold hands, they still snuggle on the couch, they still tease each other and do goofy things. The amount of love they’re still in would rot your teeth out!

    So, poo-poo times two on that! :]

  • I agree completely. I think my fiance and I have an amazing relationship, and when I look at most couple around me I am often surprised at how incompatible they seem and how unhappy they seem to make each other. When I look at the Obamas, I see my fiance and I. I think they are truly happy with one another. I want my wedding to be a celebration of such happiness and compatibility, not just a souped up prom where I am guaranteed the Prom Queen tiara.

  • Meg

    Snort. “not just a souped up prom where I am guaranteed the Prom Queen tiara.”

    HAAAA! Sorry. Carry on.

  • April

    Beautifully written, Meg. And now I’m weepy!

    I, too, am just smitten with the photos of our new President and his family. So much energy and emotion in the pictures. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, the story of them speaks loud and clear: love, respect and a mutual and genuine like for each other.

    Regarding marraige, many of my friends are in their mid- to late- 30s and constantly kvetching that their “life as they knew it” is dead; romance and passion is gone; kids have taken over everything; and they’re tired and don’t feel like connecting with their spouse.

    Sometimes, it’s a huge downer for me, since after nearly 8 years, I am still madly in love with my guy.

  • Right on. Can I ask where you’re doing your pre-marital counseling? We’re also having an August-Jewish-Bay-Area wedding, and I want to get started on that part.

    Cheers to you and the Obamas,

  • Meg

    Hey Tristen,
    We are members of a shul, so we’re doing it with our Rabbi… which is great, since it’s someone we know and respect and see all the time in non-wedding settings. We go to a super-progressive yet still sort of traditional in some ways shul (kind of like this blog, eh?) Anyway, email me if you want more info on that.


  • I went to a spa pool party last week (as you do) and one of the girls suggested we all go round the circle and see who’d gone the longest without sex. It was half promiscuous single girls and half long-term relationship people. I was the only married person.

    The question eventually reached me, to which I replied, quite shyly and truthfully, ‘2 hours ago’.

    The surprise! The shock! The horror! Married people still have sex! Real sex, like what single people have!

    It seemed a really strange reaction from a group of very well-educated, forthright, well-informaed women.

    I loved this post. Marriage is whatever you want it to be, and whatever you choose to put into it. It’s the greatest adventure of your whole life. It’s your biggest challenge and your greatest triumph. Your wedding day is a really fun party. The two just don’t compare.

  • I love this post. The Obamas are indeed wonderful role models.

    It’s great how you’re thinking about all of this stuff in preparation for your pre-marital counselling. Despite the depressing ideas about marriage we are fed, you have a wonderful image of what a marriage should be that will stand you in excellent stead. I’m excited about your future!

  • agirl

    Clearly I'm very late to this party, but I had to comment. Beautifully written, and with such a thoughtful approach to life I'm sure you and David will be just fine.

    (newly converted fan)