“And they all lived happily ever after”. Thus ends the umpteenth fairy story, where the charming prince and the beautiful princess are pronounced man and wife in a fairytale wedding.
It all looks like such sweet innocent and positively charming romanticism. But I have my doubts. I suspect that we are setting people up for some serious disappointment. “Happily ever after” just doesn’t happen!
What happens after the wedding ceremony is ‘life’ and ‘life together’!
The degree to which people are ready for ‘life’ and the degree to which people are ready for ‘life together’ is the degree to which they are ready for marriage.
As I walked through the local market on Saturday I passed a mum with a tiny daughter dressed in a wedding costume. The mother was busy announcing to her friends that the tiny daughter had just been ‘married’ to a boy earlier that morning.
It seems that the girl was so delighted with her wedding dress costume that she wanted to have a ‘wedding’. So a pretend ceremony was arranged for the girl, much to the delight of the mother.
And that prompted my thoughts about the fascination we create for the wedding ceremony. We invoke a perception of “white wedding magic” and conjure up images of the “fantasy wedding”. The wedding dress has even more appeal than the man in the red suit we see at Christmas time.
Japanese White Wedding
A few years ago I saw an ornate cathedral in Melbourne city being used for a mid-week wedding. I paused to see what was going on, only to see a small group of Japanese people emerge onto the steps. I chatted with the chap waiting to drive off in an elaborate horse and carriage. He told me there are many of these weddings in Melbourne. Other sources tell me that Japanese couples travel to many places to experience the mystique of the western wedding.
Apparently the Japanese have been impressed by the western idea of a “white wedding” in a church. Once the couple have been married in Japan, in their own traditional way, they arrange to fly to Melbourne, and other cities of the world, possibly as part of their honeymoon, and are joined by some family, for a western white wedding.
We have so created the mystique of white wedding magic that people from other traditions and backgrounds want to get some of the fantasy sprinkled on their own union. They want to live “happily ever after” too, so they go through the motions of the Hollywood magical moment.
Where is the Magic?
I am not a cynic. I am a realist. I want people to enjoy their life and marriage. So, the best preparation is with some common sense reality, not deceptive fantasy.
So, here is my question. Where is the magic in the white wedding? It is illusory. It is created by orchestrated music, emotional moments in a movie, smiles on the faces of actors, pretty photographs, gorgeous gowns and an evening of celebration. It is in the mind. It is not in the ceremony, or the dress, or the limo, or the honeymoon suite, or anywhere else.
A person who cannot handle life and who cannot maintain relationship and trust, will not be saved by the organ, the stained-glass windows, the flowers, the wedding rings, or anything else that happens on the “big day”.
Big Day a Big Flop
Have you ever heard of a “big day” becoming a Big Flop! Maybe not in those terms. Instead we call it “divorce”. Have you ever heard of divorce? Have you ever heard of adultery? Have you ever heard of heart-break? Have you ever heard or arguments, bitching, spite, jealousy, resentment and the like?
Those things can be summarised with the term “big flop”! Every wedding day that pre-empts those things is a Big Flop! The bridesmaids, photographer, music, smiles, confetti and all the rest of it were wasted! They did not save the marriage. They did not create “happily ever after”!
And they never can! They never will! The white wedding has no magic. The mystique is illusion. The fantasy wedding is just that; “fantasy”!
Expectation versus Preparation
Little girls do not need to have their “expectation” aroused. They need to make “preparation” for successful relationship building. The notion of “happily ever after” needs to be replaced with the confidence that “You can make it work, honey!”
Prepare your children and yourself for “life”, not for an expensive big day. Train your children that no-one is perfect. We all let each other down and upset each other in many ways. That’s why we learn to forgive and to ask forgiveness. That’s why we have to call on God for His grace. That’s why we “work at” and “build” a relationship, rather than have it delivered on a platter.
Every time your child is upset at you or a sibling or friend you can use that to prepare them for the “life” that follows the big day. Every time your child struggles with their emotions you can teach them to tame and guide their heart. Every time your child hears about relationships falling apart, you can teach them how to restore relationship and make it work.
Maturity over the Moment
There is no reason why your child should not enjoy and anticipate their big day. However you are much wiser to prepare them for the life that follows, rather than let them get lost in the fantasy of that “magic moment”. Help your child anticipate the “maturity” which they will grow into, rather than the “theme park ride” that passes in a few moments.
Speak to your child about their big day, but also about their coming responsibilities as a parent. Talk to them about what they will do when they are a grandparent. Prepare them, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, for those hard moments in life, like sitting up all night with a sick child.
Don’t just fantasise about the wedding day, but about them coaching their children in a favourite sport, teaching their children to catch fish, change a tyre, go camping in the wilds, mend socks and cook meals. Prepare your children for the maturity they will blossom into, not just the moment that will pass.
Mentor Your Child
Remember that your child is being mentored by you. Your attitudes and reactions instruct your child about what is valuable and important in life. If you go giddy over silly things, then they will too. If you are mature and wise, you will raise them to be mature and wise too.
If you are foolish and immature, it is high time you worked through that and became the kind of parent that will create mature, godly generations for the future.
Remember, you are preparing future generations, not coaching an actor for one scene in a movie.