So, here are a few musings on weddings and life partners.
Anxiety and weddings
At some point or other, most of us have experienced that sinking feeling which erupts and traverses from somewhere around the heart to the pit of the stomach, which remains there until the end of whatever occasion has induced it. This usually occurs before and during exams, job interviews and those pesky presentations that are sometimes followed by nerve-racking questions posed by a few smarty-pants in the audience.
Few, however, associate such a feeling with the attendance of weddings… yes, weddings! The feeling of anxiety coupled with miserable dread that comes with opening a wedding invitation has become altogether too familiar. On top of this, the worst is having to lift my head to face the excited future bride/groom who’s just handed it to me. I then have to express the fakest of utter joyous congratulations and gratitude for having chosen me to be part of their big day.
The first wedding
Flashback to 1996: The first wedding I ever attended. I was 12 back then, and at one point I recall looking at the newly weds with a feeling of awe that is more akin to ‘awful’, rather than ‘awe-inspiring’ or ‘awesomeness’. The concept of happily-ever-after seemed terrifying, especially since the newly weds were still in their early twenties. I must admit that twenty years on, they’re still together and it looks like marriage has suited both. Where I’m concerned, however, scepticism still reigns.
I’ve always understood that the concept of a life partner entails finding someone with my sense of humour – someone I could have fun with, and whose brain and way of thinking was worthy of my respect. We’d also have a number of common interests, activities and preferences. I’d also want someone whom I can trust and feel secure with, someone I have natural chemistry with, someone who accepts my flaws and whose flaws I can also accept.
No, the list isn’t over yet. I also find great communication, maintaining equality and arguing well extremely important. Do I sound like a pretentious snob with impossibly high standards? Possibly. Probably. Definitely.
But after all, I’m not ready to settle with any Tom, Dick or Harry that comes my way simply because of some biological clock that’s ticking or some concept stating that love in its purest form is best when found at a ripe, young age. For people like myself, seeking the right life-long partner is no superfluous feat and it requires a lot of broken relationships to get there. Without a doubt, the relationship described above sounds interminable and unrealistic to others. Perhaps not everyone is destined to find him/her, and in that case, people can either decide to live toute seule or else sign themselves up for a life-long endless quest.
All of this brings to mind the image of the female skeleton in a hat sitting on a bench with a caption that reads, ‘Waiting for the perfect man’. It’s hilarious on the one hand, yet laden with a pinch of subtle cruelty on the other. It gives out the message that a woman should never be too choosy when making decisions. Not only that, it implies that women who are too picky and make extra careful choices will miss trainloads of opportunities, only to end up sad and unhappy at the end.
Just whose trumpet is this message blowing? Is it that of society who looks down on single women as a potential threat to the established order? If that’s the case, then how are the increasing number of separations and divorces contributing to that same order? Are single women to be blamed for the number of divorces on the rise, or is it that people realise they’ve made a mistake by marrying too young or too swiftly? Why shouldn’t they want another go at doing it right the second time? Maybe they don’t even yearn for a second time and just want to be single again.
Twenty years on from that first marriage, I’ve survived approximately 34 weddings. There were times when I’ve struggled to attend a few simply because on certain days more than others, my thoughts and beliefs on marriage were stronger. However, I do want to be there for the people who’ve always been there for me, and during the wedding planning and their their big day, I’ve learnt to rein in my feelings on the matter. I know that wedding preparations can lead to a thousand arguments between the couple, lots of hard work and excruciating amounts of money and time. I’ve learnt to respect all of this, though none of it is to my liking. In other words, I’ve resolved to suck it all up, put on my lipstick, pull myself together and simply show up.