Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I recently met with a couple who invited me to have a pizza as we finalized the ceremony details. The groom reminded me that it was going to be 90 degrees the afternoon of the outdoor ceremony. He insisted that we keep it barebones short. A cloud came over the bride’s face. She was Roman Catholic and her family already was upset that she wasn’t getting married in the Church. She wanted a ceremony that wasn’t rushed. The groom dove into his pizza and the bride dabbed the tears hovering in her eyes. I asked the bride to tell her fiancé her concerns. He put his pizza down and listened. He was surprised and then admitted he’d forgotten so much of what she had just expressed. In the weeks leading up to this final meeting, he hadn’t really listened to her—not with his ears; not with his eyes.
Stress increases when a bride and groom don’t fully listen to each other. Good listening is one of the surest ways to prevent stress from beginning.
I’ve observed that by the time a couple begins planning for their wedding, they’ve developed patterns of listening and not listening to each other. The planning process is going to test just how good those rituals are.
Stressed with work, couples rely on trusted technology to get things done. However, getting things done is not the same as listening. Listening doesn’t happen with the click of a “send” button. Listening demands “seeing”—what the other is saying, as well as not saying.
If a bride and groom don’t listen to each other, confusion quickly moves in. I see this when I meet with couples—those who’ve listened to what each wants and those who’ve not. With those who have been listening, there’s a lighthearted tone to our conversation. And with those who haven’t, there are many awkward moments that I need to smooth over.
Are you listening to each other?
Are you satisfied with the quality of listening?
Monday, October 27, 2008
Couples will often ask me if I can recommend readings. Well, here is a reading that a couple recently used at their ceremony. I love it!
REMEMBERING YOUR HEART
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love doesn't like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.
Falling in love is like owning a dog
an epithalamion by Taylor Mali
Sunday, October 26, 2008
At a friend’s 40th birthday party, I met a couple who had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary. The man and his family are culturally Jewish; the woman is agnostic; her father is an atheist and her mother Roman Catholic. They told me that they were quickly overwhelmed with the politics laced through the planning. Politics always hinges on the little things.
The father was upset that his daughter was not going to have a blessing as it would make her mother happy. The Jewish side suddenly became very observant. Huppah, smashing of the glass, ketubah.
Huh? The couple was amazed and puzzled. Where did these people come from?
The couple decided to work through each issue as it came along—prioritizing the wacky from most to least important. They gave it the best they had and trusted the good will of all involved.
They didn’t satisfy everyone. Some people chose not to be happy.
In the end, though, people rallied and surrounded them with the best love they had—and gave them everything they wanted from Crate&Barrel!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I officiated a wedding recently in a chapel built on the grounds of a retirement home. The bride’s great-grandfather had built the chapel. It was there that he officiated the wedding of the bride’s grandparents. Tradition and family made this space especially sacred.
The couple was glowing and their smiles made them feel relaxed. They were so in the moment. And then, as I was speaking, the bride spotted something on the groom’s jacket. Instinctively, she reached across and flicked it away. Everyone laughed, though the couple seemed clueless to our reaction.
It was an exquisite moment. That one gesture spoke to the reality of marriage--caring in simple ways—seeing—reaching gently across to help each other. No wonder we laughed—in joy, recognition, and affirmation. . .