Derek and I both come from families of divorce. Neither of my parents have remarried, but Derek's mom remarried several years ago.
The fact that we both know what divorce is like makes us very careful about marriage. We talk at great length about how we need to do everything we can to continue to communicate and work out any problems we encounter.
I actually dated someone who came from a family with happily married parents who said to me, "I don't usually date people whose parents are divorced. I think they tend to think of divorce as an easy way out".
Can you believe that?!
Easy way out? How easy is it when your dad moves out and lives across town in a yucky apartment while your parents try to work things out? How easy is it when you are responsible for carpooling your little sisters around because there is one less parent around to do it? How easy is it to have to decide whose side to take in an argument?
In many ways, I think the fact that we both have divorced parents makes us an even better match than a couple whose parents are still together. I have friends whose parents are still married, and they take for granted the fact that their parents are together under one roof. Now, whether or not their parents are happy is another story, but at least they know that when their parents go to sleep at night they are at least together and looking out for one another. I worry about my parents all the time.
I'm curious about what other people have to say about this...does your parents' marital status make you think about marriage differently?
Derek and I have really gone about this all wrong.
First, we got a dog.
Then, we moved in together.
Now, we're looking for a new house.
Finally, we will get married and have kids.
My friends, on the other hand, did everything the "right" way. They dated, got engaged, got married, moved in together, bought a house, got a dog, and had a kid.
Its hard sometimes to ignore the idea that there is a "right" way to do certain things. I've spent a great deal of time and energy (wasted time, actually) worrying about what other people thought about what I did or didn't do.
When Derek and I met, almost all of our friends were paired up or married. Now, all of them are married and starting on the other stuff like dogs and kids.
In a way, Derek and I have some unique insights that our friends don't have. We know what its like to stay up all night caring for a scared little puppy on his first night in a new home. We've already established the whole "division of labor" thing that cohabitating people have to figure out. We've already learned so much about each other by living together that some newly married people take months to find out.
In a lot of ways, I'm really happy about the way things have worked out for us. Our parents are all really supportive of our "lifestyle" and seem to really embrace this whole living-together, dog-owning, house-buying idea. Not bad for a couple of sinners huh?
Despite my happiness at getting married, this time is actually quite bittersweet. On February 5, 2005, my grandma passed away after being ill for a couple of months. She was in and out of the hospital twice, but we really didn't think that her illness would result in her death at the age of 86.
Her death was a shock to me, because I never imagined that I would get married without her being there. Derek and I were not engaged formally at the time she died, but she knew our engagement was coming. I have some comfort in the fact that she knew Derek before she passed away, but my wedding day won't be the same without her there.
I have always been extremely close to my grandma. I was her first grandchild, and she always referred to me as "her pride and joy". There may have been a little bit of favoritism thrown my way, but she truly loved and enjoyed all three of her grandchildren. We were her life, and as the mother of two sons, she thought of us as her three daughters.
One would think that perhaps my mom and grandma would have endured a little competition for our affection, with both of them being so devoted to us, but there was never one ill word said between them. My grandma loved my mom as though she was her own daughter, and my mom loved my grandma as though she were her mom. This close relationship between all of the important women in my life means that now there is an empty space in our family. My grandma was the heart of the family, the instigator of get-togethers, and the one person any of us could turn to for advice or a shoulder to cry on.
Next fall, when Derek and I get married, there will be an empty chair in the front row where my grandma would have sat. I won't let anyone else sit there, because no one could ever take her place.
One of the newest obstacles we have had to face is the choice between having our wedding in a church or at our reception place. This is a big deal in our families because Derek's grandfather was a Lutheran minister, and my family is Catholic.
Of the two of us, I am the only one who has been to church willingly in the past two years. Derek is not much of a church-goer, but ironically, he is the one pushing for a church wedding.
My view is based on practicality....I know how complicated planning this wedding will be, and since neither of us could be considered devout in our religious beliefs, it seems easier to get married in a short, Lutheran ceremony at our reception place, and then dive right into the party!
Derek (and my Dad, surprisingly) both think that a church wedding is the way to go...something about doing the "right" thing in having it at a church, and then "cutting loose" at the reception. Hmmm...I get nervous anytime my Dad and Derek seem too in sync in their opinions! :)
Whichever way we go with this, we have to make our decision soon. I've tried to get Derek to go to church with me so that we can select a church and minister once and for all, but when Sunday morning rolls around, all of a sudden he is all for the "all-in-one" solution at the reception!