Once upon a time …

27 Jan

Over twenty years ago when I was in the process of planning my wedding, I was surrounded by catalogs, magazines and “consultants” talking about “my special day”.  We love to romanticize landmark moments in our lives.  Watching television commercials and movies we see whirlwind romances flow right into happily every after … Mothers lying blissfully next to their sleeping infant in a well appointed room … even graduation is painted with gleeful seniors shiny faced tossing caps in the air.  While every one of these life events (marriage, the birth of a baby, graduation) are cause to celebrate and rejoice, they are not protected within a bubble that keeps the real world out.  I wonder how much heartache, disappointment and failed relationships are created out of this marketing of perfect moments.


In the midst of my wedding planning, I was aglow with playing princess in a dress and picking just the right flowers.  Weeks after the wedding, the dress hung in the closet with wine spilled on it and the flower  had all died, life started getting real.  I had watched movies and television.  I knew that we should be settling down into our cozy cottage home.  I had consulted magazines and read  books, and discovered that this was the best time of my life.  But, it wasn’t … it really, really wasn’t.  We had no money, my new husband had no job.  Living at my parents house and working temp jobs didn’t fit the script I had written.

Years later, we had our own home and had good jobs, but it still was not the fairy tale I had anticipated.  Rather than romantic dinners, love notes and stolen kisses, our lives often consisted of screaming, throwing and leaving.  When I compared my life to the pictures I had seen in my magazines, the movies I had seen or even the jewelry commercials on TV, I knew we had failed.  This was the validation I needed to confirm that we had clearly made a mistake, where not made for each other and should never have gotten married.  I knew that love alone could see you through anything, and we were sinking.  Clearly, what I thought had been love, couldn’t have been.  Tragically, and I do mean tragically, sad I cried in mourning … with grief … at the end of my marriage.

I no longer felt giddy when he walked through the door unless he was walking out it.  The “chemistry” that had been there was gone … the fireworks had died out.  The moment was over, and I saw no future.  I prayed, and then I read, and then I educated myself … that is when I was introduced to the profound concept that would allow me to persevere another 15 years into marriage.  Marriage is not a fairy tale.  Some days you are not going to like your spouse – or at least what he does.  He is going to tweak you when he leaves dirty dishes out.  He is going to occasionally say things that hurt your feelings.  He won’t be able to tell you need a hug just because you do.  He is a person, a perfect fallible person – and so are you.  To expect a lifetime relationship to reflect all of the expectation of a static marketing photo is ridiculous, but so many of us do it everyday.

We could have so easily been a statistic.  It seemed inevitable.  We didn’t follow the rules in our “courtship”.  We didn’t take the time beforehand to date and get to know each other.  If you could have bet on our marriage we would have been an against the odds long shot.  Thankfully, I found one book in my pile that stripped the veneer and painted a realistic picture of successful marriage.

Our Hollywood and Madison Avenue fantasies of life are fairy tales.  None of us are blemish free.  Mother’s don’t always smile every time they pick up their baby.  Babies don’t always smell like powder.  Husbands don’t always buy diamonds …

Good, loving husbands won’t always bring flowers … Good, loving husbands leave cars without gas in them … Good, loving husbands fall asleep when they are supposed to play with kids … Good, loving husbands come home late and grouchy …

If I got to tell a story about marriage, it would include stories of a man who worked two jobs to make sure the bills are paid.  It would have the princess wife making eggplant, which she hates, just because her husband yearns for it.  This romantic story would be filled with tales of small moments, understated thoughtfulness and two, imperfect and tired people.


One Response to “Once upon a time …”

  1. P Zwirnbaum January 27, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    You said it, kiddo! Life isn’t a collection of Kodak moments. We’ve been married almost 50 years now and I’d have to say that there are days (or parts of days) when neither of us likes the other that well. Of course, there are other, more frequent days that we are one.

    You and Jeff are a great couple, kid. It’s always apparent how much he loves you. He’s a gift that many parents would love for there daughters to have.

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