Wedding bells are ringing, but we’re not singing. NO, we are obsessing. We worry about the color of the napkins, the size of the band, the location of the venue. When we should be worrying about how to use this event to build a support system for the future.
Weddings ain’t what they used to be, but they retain remnants of the past and therein lies the problem. In the olden days weddings were a chance for families to unite their adolescent children, for the rich to solidify their fortunes, and for the poor to get rid of a burdensome mouth to feed. They were community events, arranged by the parents often with the help of a matchmaker who may have studied the relevant stars and planets and negotiated the marriage contract. The wedding joined two families and formally granted the couple permission to begin a new generation.
In the United States today, no one is asking permission to reproduce and parents may or not be involved in the planning or even invited to the wedding! However, remnants of past expectations lurk. Wedding ceremonies are often still accompanied by displays of wealth and status. Brides dress in white gowns. Family members and friends are hurt if they are not invited or honored.
Weddings still unite two families. Although we think we are marrying only a single person, we discover we are marrying a family. Sometimes we know this in advance. Today many of us may not have met our soon-to-be relatives until the wedding or when a holiday arrives and we are expected to celebrate it in a style and place to which we are not accustomed. Or when our spouse forgoes a romantic walk in the park to help an ailing parent or fix a sibling’s front door.
Be proactive: Figure out a way to honor your parents-in-law. Give them a role–after all they raised the person you love. Your recognition of their importance will be felt long after the color of the flowers has faded from their memory. The wedding is their graduation party. You are now taking their place as next of kin to their child!
While you are at it, don’t forget your spouse’s siblings. Their position in your spouse’s universe is about to change. So mark the changes in their lives, too.
While it may seem unfathomable now, these strangers are now part of your family and come with all sorts of unexpected obligations. It is up to you to ensure that these people will be part of your support system, not your enemies.
Be beautiful inside and out! Graciousness really enhances the beauty of the couple. Remember, no matter how close or how distant, you may need these people as you hit life’s inevitable bumps.