Friday, December 18, 2009

What story are you telling?

So, Meg continues to provoke lots of good thoughts in me. Go read this post about how important the stories are that we tell ourselves. She writes about how so many people in their lives tell them that the choices that they are making (marriage, kids, etc) only lead to boredom and drudgery.

I have to say that this is not my experience and I am grateful for it. When I got engaged this time, I myself felt a little like it wasn't really a big deal. People get married all the time. People get divorced all the time. People live together and it's just like getting married. Gay people can't even get married, for heaven's sake. We're just going to do this thing and get on with our lives.

There might have been just a little bit of self-protection there. You know, if I don't get my hopes up, they can't be crushed again?

But again and again, people acted like it was a big deal. They would get so excited on my behalf. They would ask questions not just about the wedding but about the relationship. They offered amazingly grand gestures of help and really meant it.

Marriage is still sacred in our culture. Why else fight so hard for the right to marry or to retain the definition of marriage that you yourself got married within? If you need further proof, talk to couples that have parties after getting married privately and compare their guest list with couples who wait to get married at the big event. People will plunk down the cash for a plane ticket for a wedding in a way that not all of them will for just a party.

The act of promising scary things for the rest of life is something people want to support and participate in. I was blown away by how even the most jaded and cynical of my friends melted a little when we talked about being married.

My family was recently at a wake where we saw a childhood friend who has now been married for a few years. My younger brother, whose first child is due in April, asked, "So, when are you going to have kids?" He's a 30-year-old guy who waits tables and has come to terms with the fact that he'll never be a rock star but that he can continue to collect novelty wrestling t-shirts. In other words, totally cool and full of sage wisdom that is terribly unexpected because he still looks like a slacking hipster. Afterwards I said, "When did you become that guy? The one that elbows other guys and asks them about kids?" "I don't know. I just think it's cool to have a family and I want to know why other guys don't want to."

I realized that he is also telling these guys the story that it's OK to be excited about having kids. He's doing for them what my colleagues and acquaintances did for me in their excitement about my wedding. When we tell stories with the moral of "life is an adventure; keep reaching for it," we make the world a better place.

Marriage is awesome. Marriage is hard. Marriage is an opportunity that I am glad I didn't pass up.

This is the story that I tell.

No comments: