Editor’s Note: In keeping with “tackling our fears” week, Rachel’s taking on a couple of big ones – Love and marriage at forty. She’s met the man of her dreams and ready to become a Mrs., but gun-shy after what she calls the “spectacular disaster” that was her first marriage, Rachel wants to know, who said anything about a wedding?
I knew I was truly fortunate when I found love again at 38 years old. After kissing more than my fair share of frogs and marrying a toad, I had resigned myself to the fact that there was no prince for me and that my happily ever after would not include a husband, 2.6 children who were conceived “old school style” and a white picket fence. I was perfectly alright with adoption and a condo, but I still really hoped to find a suitable mate who would one day become my husband.
Be careful what you wish for. I met a wonderful man in September 2008 and as unlikely as it sounds, just knew that we would one day be married from the very moment I met him. On our first date we took a photo together as a keepsake to show our future grandchildren. Sure, it sounds pretty corny and a bit absurd, but there was just something between us that we both felt but could not explain. Almost immediately friends and relatives began to inquire about our plans for the future and when we would marry, and we just smiled, chuckled and replied “we’re talking about it.”
Talking about it was working out just fine for me. It gave me the security of knowing I had a committed relationship with a loving man who wanted to build a life with me, without the anxiety of planning a glorified party where everyone would gawk at me as I stumbled down an aisle and hurled myself toward the object of my affection and obscenities would fly from my mouth as the church crumbled around me. We dated, exchanged keys, met one another’s families and began to build that life as a couple. Relatives would say “Where’s Corey?” before even greeting me if I dared to enter a family function without him. My favorite niece greeted him as “Uncle Corey” the first time she met him and asked if she could be in our wedding the second time.
Wedding? WEDDING?!?!Who said anything about a wedding? Sure, I had pictured myself marrying this wonderful man, but my visions were more along the lines of a date at city hall, a weekend in Vegas with a drive-thru ceremony or perhaps an isolated Caribbean beach at sunset. He knew that I was a bit gun-shy after the spectacular disaster that was my first marriage and still traumatized from the divorce. He also knew that I greatly dislike being the center of attention, so he never pressed the issue of marriage or a wedding. We just accepted that marriage was something on the horizon for us and I took it for granted that he wanted the same no fuss-no muss, low-key nuptials that I did.
I’m glad that I didn’t bet on that as a test of our compatibility. As it turns out, Corey wants a church wedding with flowers and attendants and a reception to follow. Who knew? After months of attempting to camouflage my wedding-related anxiety by simply not discussing it, we finally decided to sit down and make some decisions and move forward in our relationship. It was then that I had the revelation that as a never-before-married only child, Corey wanted to have a traditional wedding filled with family and close friends, complete with dark suit, wedding dress, bouquet and tiered cake. Really…Who knew??
Did he forget that I eloped the first time I got married? Had the terror I described of having to plan a wedding conveniently slipped his mind? Had he gone mad? No—none of the above. He simply loved and trusted me enough to be honest with me about what he truly wanted for himself, for our families and for me. I cannot fault him for that, not in a million years.
While I am definitely more interested in a marriage than a wedding, I am happy to agree to the latter in an effort to begin the former on the right foot. After all, isn’t marriage ultimately about compromise and partnership? Are my anxieties and neuroses more important than his hopes and desires? Definitely not. So, we’ve set a date and chosen a location; I’ll be 40 years old when we take our vows—two milestones in the same year. Now we have to choose colors and menus, flowers, attendants, etc. There’s also the matter of the dark suit and the wedding dress…I hope he shaves his legs.