Pulling the pin on a grenade
Ever since my girlfriend agreed to marry me last month, I’m starting to realize that a wedding is a perfect example of the challenges that come with marriage: two people experiencing the same event in different ways.
I came home from work the other day and found huge tissue paper Lily pad flowers covering the table. One of the foofy things hung from the ceiling.
“I’ve been experimenting with ideas for table centerpieces at our wedding reception,” Mandi said.
She’s a teacher with the summers off, so she’s had time to obsess about our plans for next June, which is time I haven’t had. It’s been a good thing and it’s also been a little maddening because I can’t keep up with the level of detail in the planning.
“What do you think of grey, silver and purple as our color theme?” she asked one night before bed. I was tired from working all day. It was a struggle to think about theoretical details that were 364 days in the future. I blinked.
“Um, do we have to decide right now?” I asked. That’s probably been the question I’ve found myself asking most often on these matters.
“Well, no, but we need to decide the colors before we decide on our invitations and decorations,” she said.
I knew wedding planning is a lot of work — I’ve seen the stress my friends have gone through — but it’s impossible to appreciate how much work it is until you’re in the trenches, and the speed of the Internet exacerbates the pace as much as it helps. There are moments I feel like I pulled the pin on a grenade when I asked Mandi to marry me, for as soon as I asked, the planning started earnestly.
Meanwhile, as we prepare to tie the knot, it’s more typical that friends razz me while she gets congratulated.
“You know how many climbing partners I’ve lost to marriage?” my friend Chris said last week.
“I don’t think things are going to change much,” I countered.
“Yeah, yeah, they all say that,” Chris said.
I saw a quote somewhere to that effect: “Men get married thinking she won’t change, and women get married thinking he will change. Usually it ends up being a little of both.”
“So what do you think of them for our centerpieces, do you like them?” Mandi probed.
I do tease her a little about this stuff, but the truth is she is putting in more consideration for matters that benefit the two of us than I am, which makes me feel something like Beavis and Butt-Head chuckling on the sidelines of a school dance. (Sorry, Mandi.)
When I came home from work the next night, a new book was on the table. It was titled, “A Practical Wedding; Creative ideas for planning a beautiful, affordable, and meaningful celebration.” How many men would order, much less read, a book to plan their wedding? Not me.
I suppose it’s a good thing I have Mandi for that — she brings things into my life I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, the previous week we came home at midnight from a party. Two gift boxes were on the table.
“Open them!” she said.
“Too tired. Tomorrow,” I said, assuming the gifts were from one of her friends.
She put a card in my hand. The gifts were from her. I opened the first one and pulled out a copper mug engraved with my initials, “DWF.”
“I think I can guess what the second one is,” I said.
I pulled out the second mug and was momentarily baffled. The mug read, “AMF.” But her last name is Prout and I often playfully tell her to “AMP it up!”
“I’ve been getting it wrong all this time!” I thought. “Wait — where is this ‘F’ coming from?”
Then my sleepy brain caught up to what she was telling me — she’s taking my last name! I didn’t expect that. I’m honored. I hope I can honor her. And that’s what marriage is about for us.
Even though our experiences may differ quite a bit as men and women, it seems we have a way of meeting in the middle. A sense of humor helps.
— “Open Space” appears on the second and fourth Friday of every month. Derek Franz lives in Carbondale and may be reached at email@example.com.
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