Saturday, October 31, 2009
Celebrating True Love (Harold’s response)
You ever have one of those days that at its conclusion you said to yourself "This was a good day"? As I think about Rob and Celia's progress over the past year, I celebrate the year that they have had. They have matured in their respective sense of self. They have matured in their couple identity. And, to some extent they have matured in their spiritual identity. It has been a great year. And, it has culminated this week in their marriage celebration of true love.
Celia feel comforted that she has found her knight and Rob his princess. This is the stuff that fairy tales are made of. What I like most, however, is that they have gone through enough challenges over the past year that they can genuinely celebrate what they have become-rather than trapped in the rose-colored idealism that often trips many newlyweds.
Though not in the drunken stupor of their respective dads, I too salute the happy couple. It is a great lesson to all of us of what marriage offers when it is experienced in true love.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Celebrating True Love (Joanne’s response)
Rob and Celia are highly bonded at this moment, so much so that the family crazy barely registers. Yes, in the greater scheme of things, the incidents at their wedding are silly. But there is a model here for marital relationships to draw on. I once had a client say to me, regarding her husband, "I don't think he can be married to me and be her son at the same time." She meant that the man was so reactive to anything his mother said or did that he was unable to be present to his wife, my client, to the point that he was not present in the delivery room when their child was born because his mother wanted to go get something to eat. The Bible speaks to leaving and cleaving. In choosing to marry, Rob and Celia have left (their families of origin). Cleaving does not happen automatically but must be nurtured, in part by creating healthy boundaries around the marriage such that it is primary. Rob and Celia's ability to laugh at their families, as well as their anticipation of sex, speak to how well they are cleaving.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Celebrating True Love
After Rob stepped in, protecting
Celia after her father embarrassed them at their wedding ceremony, their vows
proceeded without incident.
father was toasting the new couple at the reception, which was being held on
the other side of the outdoor church courtyard where the ceremony had just been
celebrated. Certainly, one
advantage of their small guest list was that everyone could stand up and talk
as long as they wanted, fueled by plenty of cheap champagne and white
wine. After all, this was
the substance of their reception.
Their violinist would play a few more classical numbers after the toasts
wound down and the guests moved on to hors d’oeuvres and finger sandwiches. Then they would cut the cake, Celia
would toss her bouquet, and they would take their leave.
when Robby was still in diapers--” Mr. Benton was intoning, waving his
was not hearing much of what was being said. She was warm and happy leaning against Rob and did not want
to leave his side. Ever. From this vantage point she felt
like she could handle anything, even watching her father, the idiot, drinking
champagne with his new family while sitting next to her mother and
tightened his arm around Celia’s waist, embracing her from behind. She leaned her head back against his
Rob whispered into her ear, in a way that made sure no one else could hear,
“what’s underneath this virginal white dress of yours?” Celia smiled.
when he got his first bike for Christmas when he was six”—Rob’s dad
continued. Celia watched Rob’s
mother stand up next to his father, as if preparing to hurry things up.
do you think is under it?” Celia whispered back to Rob. “Besides a garter. And a couple other flimsy white lace
things, but really, they don’t amount to more than a square foot of fabric
altogether”-- now that they were married, they could talk like this to each
other all the time and damn the torpedoes. They could do anything they wanted.
exhaled heavily, held her more tightly, and kissed the side of her face before
backing off a bit, ostensibly to listen to the toasts and make it through the
reception despite the images now dancing in his mind.
father was standing up now, and he and Rob’s father put arms around each
other’s shoulders and posed a slurred toast together. “To the happy couple,” they said.
the happy couple,” the crowd echoed, raising glasses to Rob and Celia. They toasted back. The violinist began to play an Irish
jig that Celia recognized but she was surprised to see that both fathers knew
words. Which they began to
and Rob looked at each other and shook their collective, married head.
Friday, October 23, 2009
A Knight in Shining Armor (Joanne’s response)
Those who produce their wedding day as a Tony-worthy theatrical production leave little room for the sheer humanity of brides, grooms, their families and those who officiate at weddings. Weddings are better understood as improvisational theater akin to ComedySportz in which whatever happens has to be integrated in the forward flow of the day. For Celia, the decision to get married at all has been an exercise in dealing with the human limitations of her parents, herself, and Rob, and she has feared that those limitations will prevent the marriage from being successful. However, successful weddings and successful marriages are not those in which everything goes according to plan. They are the ones for which a loose blueprint of dreams and goals can flex to accommodate the unexpected and return to healthy equilibrium afterward. Rob, bless him, rose to this challenge when Celia had her feet swept out from underneath her. At some point in the future, Rob can say to Celia, "What do you need from me?" and Celia can say, "I need you to handle this for me like you did at our wedding." Like unity candles and the exchange of rings, they incorporated another symbolic representation, this time of redemption, into their ceremony when Rob acted outside of the script, and Celia received his action.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
A Knight in Shining Armor (Harold’s Response)
In my upcoming book, Marriage ROCKS for Christian Couples, I make a point that a key ingredient to authentic marriage is spouse's ability to redeem one another. Part of being a redemptive spouse is covering each other in difficult situations.
Rob gives a fabulous demonstration of what it means to be redemptive in the current episode. When sensing Celia's hurt, he immediately intervenes to cover her. He confronts the situation aggressively while maintaining sensitivity to the situation.
Celia's response says it all. Rob is her hero.
In my own marriage, there are few better feelings that knowing that my wife has my back. When I'm struggling, she is praying for me. When I'm overwhelmed, she picks up my slack. When I'm tired she serves me. For me, she is a portrait of human redemption--much like Christ does for us in a spiritual sense.
What are you doing to redeem your spouse? This is your call to be a hero in your home.
Monday, October 19, 2009
A Knight in Shining Armor
When the pastor spoke the words,
“If anyone present knows cause or impediment why these two persons should not
be joined in matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace,” someone stood
saw the look on Celia’s face as the pastor acknowledged the person
speaking. It was horror mixed with
humiliation, and it was a look that did not belong on the face of one as
beautiful as his bride, and certainly not on her wedding day. She closed her eyes to block out the
entire scene, which, he saw from her reaction, was too traumatic to
witness. Rob squeezed her hand and
said as quietly and calmly as possible, “It’s OK.”
just want to say something to Celia,” the man started. So this must be Celia’s father, whom
Rob had never met. How dare this
man flaunt the privilege of being
invited here! Rob was angry and he
glanced at the pastor, who was supposed to be officiating, but the pastor
seemed as shocked as Celia.
Apparently this sort of thing did not happen as often in real life as in
look beautiful, honey. I’m proud
of you,” her father went on to say.
Rob looked again at Celia, whose eyes were still closed. He could not tell if she had even heard
the words spoken, but she was moving her head subtly as if to shake it all
off. Then, tears began to fall
from Celia’s closed eyes.
anger grew to fury. Someone needed
to take charge. Swiftly, Rob
kissed Celia’s hand and left her side, stepping behind her toward her father,
although he had no idea what he was going to do.
reached out to shake the man’s hand.
Benton,” he said, empowered by his anger to – what? -- introduce himself to his
bride’s father? Well, it was where
his instinct led him. Rob
continued to pump his future father-in-law’s hand. “Glad you could be here, sir. Now, if you will just take your seat, we’ll proceed.” Rob kept shaking the hand. “I’m looking forward to talking to you
later,” he added for good measure.
father sat down and said no more.
When Rob turned back toward the altar, he saw Celia, whose eyes were now
open, watching him. Catherine had
found tissues and handed her one.
Celia dabbed at her eyes but she was smiling now. At Rob.
they took hands again and faced the pastor, Rob swelled inside like he had just
hit the winning grand slam of game seven of the World Series. Or kicked the field goal to win the
Super Bowl in overtime. Or – like
he had just publicly stood up for and defended the woman he loved. He felt a knight in armor on a very
tall white horse. Better than that
– he could see in Celia’s eyes that she believed that, too. This marriage thing was going to be great.
nodded to the pastor to continue the ceremony.
additional wedding nonsense occurs at the reception?
Friday, October 16, 2009
A Wedding Dream or Nightmare? (Harold’s response)
Have you ever had those situations that you hoped to avoid, you tried to avoid, and you thought you had been successful avoiding? I'm sure you have. We all have. But, what happened when it came crashing down on you despite your best efforts?
We all want to feel that we are in control of tenuous situations. In this specific episode, Celia thinks she has the family situation contained. It is HER wedding day after all. She has made it to the altar without parental intrusion. Her wedding dream is a reality. Or, so she thought.
I think this episode presents a perfect example of how we misconstrue how much "CONTROL" we actually have. Celia's control was a farce. As Joanne intimated in her posted, Celia can't control her father's feelings about being "left out" of the wedding. And, good 'ol dad has demonstrated this by taking his own version of control of the wedding ceremony--if only for a moment.
There's a lesson here for all of us in intimate relationships. First, try your best to hear the needs and the desires of those who have significant roles in your live. Second, don't have a false sense of security about how much control you have. Third, be flexible to adjust when things go differently than you planned. With these admonitions, you can make most of your relationships dreamy.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A Wedding Dream or Nightmare? (Joanne’s response)
Walking down the aisle in a wedding is an act that symbolizes leaving the past and cleaving to the future. Keep in mind that leaving the past behind does not mean forgetting it or the people in it -- it means the past no longer determines your future. Ironically, if Celia had asked one or both of her parents to walk her down the aisle, her father might not have been compelled into this attention-getting ploy. Her declaration of independence, which was a good choice for Celia that I support, has complicated moving forward -- even the ceremony has been held up! Her father might have felt, probably unconsciously, that the past and his role had not yet been appropriately acknowledged. One of the most critical decisions Celia can make at this juncture as she stands with Rob and holds his hand is that, regardless of what happens from here on within her family of origin, she will not allow the pull of family history to prevent her from prioritizing Rob and their marriage, regardless of how her family may react.
Monday, October 12, 2009
A Wedding Dream or Nightmare?
Minutes before Celia was to walk
down the aisle, she realized her mother invited her father’s second family to
the wedding despite Celia’s wishes that he attend alone.
waited with Catherine in a small room just off the church courtyard where in
moments she would marry Rob. She
could see Rob and his best friend Matt taking their places before a large,
stone Celtic cross while the pastor spoke quietly to them, giving instructions. Her mother was taking her seat in
the front left row and gesturing to Celia’s father, his wife and their daughter
to sit with her there.
couldn’t they be that nice to each other when they were married?” Celia said to
weren’t setting their differences aside, like they are now,” Catherine
said. “We can give them credit for
that, I guess.”
decided she would give them credit for that and overlook Mom’s – ignorance – in inviting them. At some point she would address it with her mother, but it
did not need to be today. This was
Rob’s day, too, and his family had been supportive and gracious throughout the
process. Whatever words she might
like to say to her mother would be spoken in privacy at a later date, after
everyone had enjoyed today and after Celia had cooled off.
was introducing her ex-husband to Rob’s parents now, and suddenly everything
seemed surreal. Catherine handed
Celia a small bouquet of white roses and ivy and picked up her own nosegay of
peach tea roses.
look beautiful, Celia,” Catherine said.
“You and Rob are a great couple – I’m sure you’ll be much more
successful at marriage than our parents were.”
comment merely added more surreality to the moment, but Celia received the good
wishes as she knew Catherine intended them; as an acknowledgment that their shared
childhood had been difficult and that Celia was rising above that.
than anything Celia was glad she had decided to walk down the aisle alone. As the violinist began the first
strains of the processional and Catherine began to walk toward the altar, Celia
knew that if either or both of her parents were standing with her right now,
she would let them know what she thought.
was time for Celia to walk down the aisle. She looked directly at Rob as she walked, stubbornly
avoiding looking at either of her parents; Rob who was happy and healthy and
had it much more together than she did, about everything. For the next few minutes, she
vowed, she would not think about her parents. She would focus on Rob and on the words they would speak to
one another about the rest of their lives.
reached the altar and handed Catherine her flowers. When Rob took her hand, the anxiety flowed from her and she
was ready. As the pastor spoke his
welcome to the assembly, Rob whispered to Celia, “You are beautiful.”
anyone present knows cause or impediment why these two persons should not be
joined in matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace,” the pastor
said. Celia smiled at Rob and
waited for the pastor to continue.
sir?” the pastor said to someone in the crowd.
turned and was horrified to see her father standing up to speak.
does Celia’s father say?
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Weddings, Dresses, and Messes? (Joanne’s response)
I am intrigued that this week's poll participants, as well as my compadre Harold, are leaning heavily toward ignoring this latest crisis and pulling for Celia to walk down the aisle as if nothing had happened. Yet again, Celia's mother has behaved like a bull in an emotional china shop, inserting herself where she has not been invited and creating a mess for Celia to clean up. But Harold sniffs the wind a-changin', and believes this could prompt Celia to let bygones be bygones if she chooses not to interpret it as a "mess." After all, Celia's fear in inviting her father's family was that it would make her mother uncomfortable, and here Mom is making the overture on her own. It is clear that Celia no longer has to take care of her mother on this point. I hope she can exhale and enjoy the day. Down the road, though, I hope she will let Mom know she did not appreciate having this sprung on her at this delicate moment.
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