Thursday, January 10, 2008

Getting Married For the Right Reasons

Since the day we learn to climb out of our cribs, women are socialized to want to get married. We're sold the fairy tale of being princess for a day and riding off into the sunset with our very own Prince Charming.

But a lot of time Prince Charming doesn't figure much into the tale. Case in point: On Tuesday, I met a business associate for lunch. We're friends, but we talked mainly about business. At a neighboring table, an attractive woman in her early 30s sat with a business colleague and talked non-stop about the wedding she's planning.

I tried to tune her out, but she talked pretty loudly. I heard every detail about the selection of her dress, the church, the reception hall, and even the cake. She went on and on about it. The other woman couldn't get a word in edgewise, and I noticed that after a while, she didn't even try.

My friend got up to use the Ladies' Room, while the bride-to-be continued droning on about The Biggest Day in Her Life. It occurred to me that she'd neglected to mention one particular detail: the Groom.

She never uttered a word about him.

Eventually, she and her colleague did get around to discussing business. The bride's posture changed. Her shoulders rounded; clearly, work really didn't interest her. And why should it? She had The Biggest Day of Her Life on her mind.

(It made me wonder if her fiance sits around business lunches boring colleagues with plans for their wedding. Even if he is heart-stoppingly besotted with his future wife, I doubt it.)

I have a good friend who fell into this Biggest Day of a Girl's Life trap. She listed precise requirements for an engagement ring, she picked her wedding dress out of a shop window after three dates with her husband, and she spent our nights out with the girls talking ad nauseum about her ideas for a suitable reception location.

Some of had to duck into the bathroom to manage conversations about something other than this girl's Big Day, which eventually came and went in the space of about eight hours. She had a hell of a wedding, I'll give her that. She hired a killer band that did Sinatra as well as Led Zeppelin ("A Whole Lotta Love" brought down the house), and authentic Italian food. As far as weddings go, it was great.

But the marriage? Not so much.

She and her husband fight constantly. Other than the kids, they have nothing in common. He calls her names. She tries to get him to help out with the house. He avoids coming home. She's dying to get out with her friends. And, although she reached her goal to walk up the aisle with a 22-inch waistline, she's put on weight over the years. Prince Charming has been known to be pretty rough about it.

She's not the first female who got sucked into the wedding fantasy before looking closely enough at the man she'd be going home with. I hope the woman I'd overheard at lunch the other day isn't making the same mistake.

Despite all the planning, a wedding amounts to a single day in a person's life. That's it. A wedding may be fun, but a bad marriage is hell. Know what you're getting. Make sure that you want it.