A few weeks ago I went to a wedding. It was a good one. I realized that weddings, or at least Christian weddings, are like buying something important on credit. The couple get a fine new relationship — unlike anything they've had before, if they've stuck to Christian ideals — but they pay for it with extravagant vows. Those vows cost nothing at the time, but the couple commit themselves to pay, potentially, a very steep price indeed. At the altar, do people take seriously the possibility that they're committing to a lifetime of caring for an invalid? A lifetime of putting up with frustrating habits? Infertility? Unfulfilled sexual desire? Poverty? Bonding with a dysfunctional family? Diverging interests? I want to stand up in weddings and shout "you have no idea what you're doing!" I should never be a marriage celebrant :-).
Sometimes people think marriage is conventional and boring, but taking the long view, marriage is for crazy risk-takers.
It's unfortunate that we celebrate the making of vows more than the keeping of them — paying off the credit: the slow grind of adjusting one's expectations, of putting up with the less than ideal, of carefully engineering the relationship to strengthen it over time. Wedding anniversaries deserve bigger parties than weddings.
I've got a big anniversary coming up next year so I should take my own advice :-).