A wedding can signal a lot about a relationship
Monday, October 28, 2013 4:27 AM
A long time ago in a grad school course, I researched and wrote a paper that was ultimately published in a book about marriage and family. My article was cleverly titled "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner This Time?" That was a take-off from the very popular movie, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" starring Sidney Poitier; his female girlfriend, who was white, was taking him home to meet her parents. She had not told them he was black.
I used that title because my study was about long-term intimate gay relationships. The major finding from my research was that in order to last, gay relationships need support from their community. The most important element in that support network is the immediate family of the partners. Weddings are a very important formal demonstration that families and other parts of a couple's community publicly support the couple in their new status.
On Sunday, we attended a wedding in the big city. It was for two good friends I had met a long time ago and with whom both Spouse Roger and I feel an affinity. So we were thrilled to hear they were getting married, and especially so when we knew we were included in the guest list.
This was a very special occasion and that was reinforced by every detail of the event. It started with the invitation, which included a non-traditional candid photo of the couple, and the traditional "request (for) the pleasure of your company at the celebration of our union." Clearly, each part of the whole afternoon was planned by both of them together. And members of both families were there and participating.
After the best men processional and then the grooms' processional (yes, it was an all-male wedding party), sisters of both Dan and Ray read pieces that were especially poignant. One was "The Art of Marriage" by Wilferd A. Peterson, and some of the important lines were good for all of us to hear: "A good marriage must be created....In the art of marriage the little things are the big things....It is never going to sleep angry....It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family....It is not only marrying the right partner...It is being the right partner."
Another sister read Sir Hugh Walpole's quote about "The Most Wonderful of All Things in Life": "The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one's relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident and the most wonderful of all things in life."
Yes, it is.
The third reading by the third sister was the traditional Apache wedding blessing, which starts "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other...." I didn't know this was going to be a part of the ceremony. Because it is one of my favorite quotes, I had already included it as the card in the gift we brought for Ray and Dan. It was a beautiful continuation of the theme of two people who truly appreciate each other and work hard at their relationship.
Dan and Ray wrote their own wedding vows, which were like poetry. They reinforced the beauty of their already long relationship and the need to be best friends. The officiate for the ceremony reminded the couple that wedding vows are a working document, promises we need to be aware of, not just on that special day, but forever. That was also a good reminder for the rest of us and something I had never before heard said at a wedding.
It was a lovely day for a wonderful couple. For me, personally, there were omens that it was just meant to be, coincidences that convinced me their ongoing relationship is great like ours is and it will continue to be so. First, there was the duplication of the Apache wedding blessing; we were thinking alike. Second, they have been together for 17 years; Spouse Roger and I have been married for 17 years. Third, they chose the same room for the event that I had selected a few years ago for my own memorial service, to be held sometime in the future.
The food was great and the music was enjoyable, even though we did not stay for the dancing. We met many wonderful and interesting people, including the families and other friends. The entire day was "seamless," so obviously a joyous celebration of their own values about a successful relationship.
It was also a celebration of the ability to now publicly affirm - and have others support that affirmation - their lifelong commitment to each other. We felt honored to have been included and I was so happy to see so much community support. In the words of that traditional Apache wedding blessing, "May your (Dan and Ray's) days together be good and long upon the earth."