Marriage counselor Aaron Anderson critiques our ever-dangerous tendency to mix fairy-tales and marriage.
Recently, Gint Aras, Marriage Editor for Good Men Project, posted an article presenting some staggering statistics of the average cost of weddings. Apparently, people in the U.S. spend an average of approximately $28,000 for their wedding. Compare this to an average of $22,000 for a year of college and $4,000 for an average family vacation for four and basically, for the same price of a wedding you can get a year of college tuition and a summer vacation with your family.
Because so much money and planning is apparently going into the wedding, as a marriage counselor I can’t help but wonder if people are putting as much money and preparation into the rest of their marriage as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I agree wholeheartedly with couples celebrating the beginning of their life together. Marriage is a blessed arrangement and should be celebrated. But with a divorce rate that has been stubbornly high at around 50% for the last three decades, I can’t help but believe that couples would do much better not just planning for their wedding day, but planning for the days after their wedding day. After all, marriage is more than just the wedding day. It’s a lifelong commitment.
It would seem that couples are falling into the belief of what I like to call the ‘Fairy-tale marriage’. This fairy-tale marriage is the belief that marriage will be like they see it in the Disney movies and that once they get married they’ll live happily ever after. Thinking of it that way, it makes sense why people would want to celebrate their wedding day so elaborately. I would want to celebrate it so elaborately if it ushered in the end of all my problems.
But therein lies the problem. Many couples have unrealistic ‘fairy-tale’ views of marriage. When they realize marriage really isn’t how it’s portrayed in the movies, they immediately believe their spouse must be doing something wrong. Then they aim for divorce.
Couples Should Think of Marriage as After the Wedding Day
Couples would do much better to focus on preparing for the daily, lifelong commitment of marriage instead of just the hype of the wedding day. After all, it’s the daily things couples do together after the wedding day that make a relationship happy or not. Instead of spending so much on a wedding, imagine what good that money would do on a down payment towards a house. Since one of the most common reasons couples fight is money, it would be much more advantageous for a couple to start their marriage off with money in savings instead of in a heap of debt.
Additionally, by not focusing so much on the wedding day and focusing instead of the rest of days after their wedding day, couples have a more realistic view of what marriage will be like and can better prepare for it. This will help abolish the false fairytale view of marriage and help couples during the ups and downs that will follow. It may even help the decrease the stubbornly high divorce rate.
Lastly, when couples realize that they don’t need to spend so elaborately on their wedding day, it creates a different emphasis. Instead of emphasizing the wedding day and celebration as the focal point, it emphasizes the lifelong commitment. And the lifelong commitment —not the celebration—is really what marriage is about.
Let’s Stop Blaming Disney, by Gint Aras
I Had No Idea I Was Going to Propose, by Luke Brockmeier
The Orgasmic Marriage, Candice Holdorf
Image Credit: Katsunojiri/Flickr