Listen, before anyone gets angry at me let me clarify – I’m married and have no intentions of being otherwise. I love my husband and wouldn’t trade him for anyone (well, unless Jason Momoa decides he’s in love with me and Jennifer Aniston decides she’s in love with Dave…I clearly have a “type”…not so sure about Dave though).
Until now I’ve always just shared little bits of our couple’s stories and pretty photos, but this spring I’ve been diving into growing our business, and have done some deep soul-searching. I’ve been diving into WHY I want to photograph weddings (specifically), WHO can I best serve, and WHAT is important to them. Through the conversations and thought-sessions I’ve had recently around the subject of marriage I came to this personal realization: the concept of “marriage” we’re sold by most of our culture is a lie.
Now let me explain what I mean.
The dictionary doesn’t go into depth in its definition of marriage, only calling it “the state of being united as spouses in consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law” (Merriam Webster), so really we are left to look to societal or religious definitions and examples. Everyone grows up in a different situation, but likely (if you grew up in a culture similar to the one I did) you were surrounded by marriages in various states (happy, broken, estranged, secondary or tertiary, etc). My parents were married for most of my childhood, my best friend’s were divorced in grade school, another friend was raised by a single mom, the list goes on. Since joining the wedding industry I’ve had the honor of photographing over 100 weddings, and having a front row seat to ALL KINDS of marriages and family stories.
Here’s the thing that surprised me…they all tell you the same things: Your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, marriage is two soulmates joining their lives, NOW your life is complete, your spouse is your other half, things are so much easier when you go through them together, it’s hard – but worth it. (I won’t keep going, I’m sure you could add about 100 things more to this list). We’re sold on this concept that getting married is the ultimate accomplishment, and that once you’re in this relationship it’s “hard work” but so worth it. The thing is (again, if your upbringing was anything like mine) we’re not really told what the heck that actually means.
Dating teaches some lessons, and some of us learn more than others. People disappoint you and surprise you, it’s nice to have someone to rely on, you won’t always agree on things, breakups suck, the list goes on. BUT, until you’ve slogged through the muck of HARD it’s impossible to understand what relationship “hard work” looks like. When you’re at your most vulnerable, and the person who’s supposed to be your soulmate (who you’ve spend years – decades – trusting) isn’t there for you. When a hard week turns into multiple hard YEARS, and there isn’t enough to cover the basic necessities (enough money, time, energy, love…). When one of you messes up, big, and there’s no clear-cut way to move forward. This list could also go on forever.
The people who we are supposed to trust to lead us in the right direction leave out some big details. They don’t share what “hard” really is. They don’t share HOW they got through the tough times that (inevitably) happen. Often the crucial and deep pieces of the relationship happens behind closed doors, and the world…including the people who are learning from them….only see the highlights reel. If you check the stats (as of the writing of this blog) the divorce rate has “dropped” to a 50-year low, but so has the marriage rate. Marriage as we know it is a lie.
So what’s the reality of marriage?
Here’s my experience with marriage. This is the “truth” I’ve found for myself through my own marriage, through watching my parent’s divorce, through the “successful” and “failed” marriages of people whose lives I’ve been part of. Marriage is nothing like they tell you. Its gritty. It’ll stretch you far past your limits, and honestly some days you’ll wonder why the heck you said you’d stay with this horribly flawed person for the rest of your life. It’ll teach you to fight, and that “winning” shouldn’t matter (and what that really means is you’ll learn how to eat your pride by the truckload…you’ll learn to bite your tongue when you’re 1000% right…you’ll learn to let your spouse choose wrong because they are also on a journey). Marriage is a DEEP dive into psychology, and if you’re really interested in building a lasting relationship you’ll study yourself and your spouse, and try to grow in self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
Marriage is a journey, made for team players who want to discover what it’s like to struggle through the depths of life beside another human who’s trying to grow too. Marriage is made for those who can love deeply, but also forgive the unforgivable. Marriage is supposed to be teamwork, but sometimes you’re the only person training…and it can last that way for a long time. Marriage is for two people who are ready to dig in and face the joys and sorrows of life together, but who aren’t reliant on their spouse to complete them.
To me the truth of marriage is more beautiful than the lie we’re fed by everyone around us afraid to share the reality of their journey. I’ve become obsessed with real, gritty love stories, and that is why I continue photographing weddings. I am captivated by people willing to dive deep…people who choose a soul bond and stick it out….people who know the truth and choose it above the “fairytale”.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – and I might just continue these little diversions from the “typical content”.