Over the weekend, I attended the wedding of my second cousin. It was so much fun to get away with just my mom for the night and hang out with the family that was there. It’s always great to see young love and celebrate the beginning of a new family.
One part of the ceremony became a running joke with my mom and aunts, though, and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s actually not that funny. During the wedding, the minister told the new couple that “married life is a paradise,” which made my mom and I chuckle quietly in the church. After the ceremony, we said “Oh sure, paradise! Wait til you have kids, it’s even more idyllic!” We all giggled, but it stuck with me.
I am happily married. Like, literally no complaints. I think Paul and I have a good thing going, and it’s because we both work hard to keep ourselves and each other happy. We have social lives, we communicate, we have sex, we argue, we laugh. We have good kids that are healthy and funny and adorable. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table and enough left over to take an occasional vacation.
But paradise? No. It’s not paradise. Because it’s not supposed to be.
The actual literal definition of paradise includes words like “bliss” and “extreme beauty.” When I picture paradise, I picture white sands and blue ocean. And someone waiting on me hand and foot.
In other words, a vacation. Not reality.
So doesn’t it do couples a real disservice to start them off on literally their first MOMENT of married life by telling them “Welcome to paradise!”? Because married life ISN’T vacation. It’s real life. It’s the trenches. It’s the monotony. It’s commitment when you want to leave. It’s putting in effort when you don’t feel like it. It’s budgeting and planning and choosing. Of course, it’s romance and fun and memories too but even THAT isn’t paradise.
And that is ok. That is fine. That is not what it’s meant to be. But if you are told from the get-go by the man whose sole function is to make your marriage official that you are entering paradise, aren’t you kind of being set up for failure?
Now, I know that a wedding is all about pomp and circumstance, so standing up there in your beautiful gown and your tux and having some man say “Welcome to marriage, where you will spend the next 50 years discussing toilet paper choices and whose job it is to take the trash out” wouldn’t exactly up your reception head count. And we should celebrate the romance of it all. You are there because you LOVE each other ultimately, so that should be celebrated, not watered down.
So I dunno. Maybe kicking off married life with the image of paradise is the right thing to do. Maybe it’s the ultimate in optimism and hope. But maybe instead of calling it something it’s not, people can start off their marriages with real expectations that don’t lead to disappointment. Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?