Saturday, April 5, 2014

Expecting A Fairy Tale

Before every wedding there comes a rehearsal. This was ours-

Practicing to get married.

I remember that blue silk dress bought especially for the occasion. The dinner afterwards with bridesmaids and groomsmen, family and ministers. I would love to know what we're discussing here.

We're definitely discussing something, but these pictures are a little dark so you'll have to take my word for it. And they're Polaroids!

It was possible to view your pictures immediately back in 1984. You couldn't delete, photoshop, or crop, but you could see a photo come to life as it rolled out of the camera. Then if you were the impatient sort, you could hold your photo carefully at the corner and shake it good and hard to make the lines and color appear faster. It was super exciting to watch your picture develop. I'm not kidding.

I was thinking about our rehearsal and the dinner afterwards. Remembering the butterflies in my stomach, the realization that tomorrow I would actually be saying I do. I have to admit the night before the big day it all felt just a little bit scary. Exciting yes, but also scary. In a way it felt like we were pulling something off on the adult world. Like we were children about to be left unsupervised. My hubs says he never thought that, but I know I did. We're in charge of ourselves? Do we know what we're doing?

Guess so. Marriage is more or less a learn as you go proposition, but going in we all have this little thing called expectation.

E is for Expectation

Looking back after 30 years together I feel like mine were mostly met. I suppose it's also possible that my expectations have simply expanded or shrunk depending on the year and circumstance, because sometimes we're better than great, and sometimes we just do the best we can. I don't think it's a bad thing to evaluate and adjust expectations in marriage from time to time.

I know going in I expected my husband would be the primary bread winner and I would be a traditional wife and mother. I had a college degree and was working in my chosen profession, but in my heart I always aspired to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother. I expected to have a home and family, that we'd take vacations and attend church. That I would cook meals and run the vacuum, enjoy my children, and have long talks with the hubs over hot cups of coffee.

Coffee was kind of a grown up thing back in 1984. Kids didn't frequent Starbucks and the like, mostly because they didn't exist. I looked forward to being a grown up and having coffee with my husband. And in terms of married life my hubs had similar expectations, although maybe not so much about the coffee.

We met with the pastor who married us a few times before the big day, and he asked us a lot of questions about all sorts of things that didn't seem like a big deal to my 23 year old self. Things like how would we handle money, holidays, traditions, matters of faith, raising children, leisure time, household chores, and more.  You know, all that stuff that comes up as you go along, things you approach in the way you were raised and he approaches in the way he was raised, and sometimes that's the same thing, and sometimes it's not?

Hubs and I had dated for quite a while, so we'd talked about many of those issues that are going to arise when you become man and wife, but as I said up top, marriage is a bit of a learn as you go. So we've learned as we've gone. As husband and wife we've compromised, given a little or given a lot, clung tightly and stood firm sometimes, and let go of the things we could live without.

I do think it's important going in to marriage to have realistic expectations about what I call 'the deal breakers'. Everybody has theirs, and it's important to lay them out there for your future mate to weigh in on.  I wouldn't have married someone who didn't want children. That would have been a deal breaker for me. And I wanted my children to be raised in a home where they would grow up knowing Jesus. Also something I wouldn't budge from.  Other people may feel strongly about a wife working or not working, how they save and spend, who takes care of household chores, whatever.  I don't think we need a checklist a mile long for a potential spouse to meet every single thing, but I do think we need a shortlist of the things we are not willing to compromise on, and to know our future mate is on the same page there.

We're told not to expect a fairy tale when we get married, but what is a fairy tale ? Doesn't a fairy tale usually begin with a once upon a time? Don't they happen in a far off place and time? Don't they feature a boy and girl (a prince and his princess), who experience adventure, and encounter characters and situations both good and evil along the way? Don't they end with a 'happily ever after'?

That girl up there, the one getting married the next day?
She was expecting a fairy tale.

And you know she kind of got one.


  1. Nice post, Joyce! I agree--I was expecting a fairy tale, and it feels like I sort of got one, too. We've been blessed :)

  2. Your ending is so sweet!! I enjoyed this walk down memory lane with you. Great post!

  3. This is such a sweet post! I hope all soon -to-be-brides read it. :) Thanks for sharing your memories.

  4. Awesome, awesome post. Thank you for sharing. Blessings

  5. That was lovely. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment - and those lovely photos.

  6. So enjoyed this and you made some very good points for sure! I definitely dreamed of a fairytale and I "sort of" got one too. What a blessing!

    Happy week and I so admire your participation of the A-Z blog. I'm afraid I would feel so much pressure that I wouldn't enjoy it but you do such a great job!

  7. Dealbreakers--mine were the same. I think the thing with expectations , though, is how silent and subtle and entrenched most of them are. I mean, I expected that my husband would be as to talk into things as my dad was. Nope. I expected he would thank me for every little thing the way my dad does. Nope. I expected he would rub my feet after dinner. Nope. The "big" expectations have been met, though. Learn as you go, and the first lesson I learned came straight from my hubby's mouth: "I am not your father."

  8. What beautiful memories! I found my fairy tale prince also. Forty-one years ago, :)

  9. I like this post. Very well said and very true!