Have you ever watched The Wedding Planner? I saw it recently and got to thinking that as nice as the fairy tale is, the other story also needs to be told, the story of Mary's parents who met on their wedding day, grew to appreciate, then respect, then like, then love each other.
Don't get me wrong - I'm all for romance and the grand gesture. What girl isn't? But doesn't it seem like we put too much emphasis on the romance and the gesture, and not enough on the respect and the like?
Couples with successful marriages - meaning those that last - will tell you it takes work, that love doesn't sustain itself, that it doesn't always feel good and isn't always easy. Despite the dreamy dates of courtship and the creative expressions of love, marriage ends up being about who does the dishes and how to squeeze the toothpaste. Not exactly fodder for a Hollywood romcom.
The wonderful thing is that despite the work and the negotiations and the daily life of it all, those successful couples will also tell you that it gets better with time, that love does endure though it is not the same as it was (it shouldn't) and that (as one wife has told me) she still loves the smell of his shirts when she does his laundry. That is a story worth telling.
This all supposes making the right choice in the first place, the right mate, the right spouse, the right partner. In The Wedding Planner, Jennifer Lopez (Mary) meets Matthew McConaughey and he is pretty and successful, but belongs to someone else, and frankly, is a little spineless. Her father introduces her to Massimo who promises to keep a good roof over her head and love her more than anyone else will. Mary is attracted to Matthew - he seems the ideal, and fears she would be settling with Massimo though they share a common background, and family connections (more important than we give them credit for) and he fits in with her friends. She chooses Matthew.
If Mary and Matthew were a real life couple, I believe that not long after the beautiful wedding, the reality of day to day living with the actual person rather than the idealized version would reveal the shaky foundation of their relationship. On the other hand, perhaps Mary and Massimo, though more prosaic in their approach would end up being one of those successful couples forty years down the road talking about how it just keeps getting better and better with time. They wouldn't have had unattainable expectations, they would have entered into marriage knowing they had to work at it, and they would have given the other an opportunity to prove themselves. There would have been room for growth and willingness to grow together.
Am I reading too much into a simple movie? No doubt. Am I blowing sunshine up your shorts (I just watched Top Gun, as well) writing about marriage as a single person? You bet. It is, however, the Feast of St. Anne. I've prayed her novena these last nine days, and have been reflecting on men and marriage. I don't have any deep insights or surprising revelations. I do know that friendship is a key ingredient in a successful marriage, and I'm pretty sure Massimo makes for a better friend than Matthew.