The act vs. the event.

It's odd. Getting engaged is, in a way, a very immediate action. From one moment to the next, you jump life steps. One minute your finger is bare, the next you're wearing the ring you'll wear for the rest of your life. Obviously lots of conversations and relationship growing and partnership-building has led up to this point in our lives. But the official act of getting engaged pushes us to this new state of being. We're engaged. And that means more than it seems.

The past week has flown by and has revealed our engagement to be a catalyst for much thinking. What does it mean to us to be married? What's important to us about that act, or that day, or the legality behind the action? How do we prepare ourselves to take vows, to look each other in the eyes and make the kind of statement that you hope to only make once in your life?

It's been a struggle to remain focused on the strategy of our marriage, as people inevitably want to quickly move towards the implementation of our marriage. Where will we be married? Where will we have our reception? How many people will be there? And what color will the bridesmaids be wearing?!?

I don't mind these questions; it's natural for people to be curious about the components of our marriage that they'll be a part of. I get it. I've been there. But what I need to do, especially in these first weeks, is stay focused on the act behind the event. 

This afternoon we lounged around a park in DC for a few minutes, soaking up some of the last autumn sun. We talked about what's important to us- that we want to vow words we believe in, that we want to be married by someone who has convictions about what they're officiating, that we want to be surrounded by the community of people who love us and who will help us through the inevitable hard times ahead.

That, to me, is what my wedding has to be about. 

I stare into the intimidating face of marriage, one whose dour statistics challenge my very belief in the institution. I reach back into the years of dating and experience I've had, use them to prop me up and reassure me that this relationship is so very different than anything I've ever had before. The wedding event will be a success if the act behind it is a success. 

I'd be curious to hear what married folks think about this... what did you do to make sure you stayed true to the act and not just the event? 


audrey said...

Hi! Have never commented before, but this post really struck a chord with me. My husband and I were very focused ensuring that our focus was on the act of marriage, rather than wedding. Yeah we got carried away with the detail, but the detail helped us focus on what we wanted in our future.

Neither of us is church attending, but we each feel our personal faith was important to us. Further to that we wanted someone close to us to officiate. So we asked my uncle a minister to do it, and in doing so undertook a series of meeting with him to talk over what we both expected and felt about our future marriage. We had done this by ourselves, but I am sure, that having the third person there to ask questions (often difficult ones), and then reflect back to us what we had discussed through the ceremony, has meant a lot to us. We still reflect on the words he shared when we face our hardest times, words which have helped us no end to making our marriage a success.

all the best for your future together! being married is wonderful, even in the rough times!

amber, theambershow said...

Figure out what you want, just the two of you, before you start asking for outside opinions.

Also, read the blog Practical Wedding, especially the wedding graduate posts.

Jen said...

@Audrey- thank you! We have friends who did some meetings like that and they really felt it was great. I'll look into it!

@Amber- oh dude, totally on board there. :)