Monday, April 6, 2009

Canon in D, anyone?

Several women I know are being made "honest" next month.

My Mom's best friend, Sue, will be the first to walk down the proverbial aisle, followed by my aunt, and then Little Sister.

Little Sister is getting married.


I still can't believe it, but I have come a long way since I first learned of her engagement last November.

Being the older sibling, it was hard for me to let go of the (admittedly irrational) belief that it is my duty - my birthright even - to complete all of life's major firsts, FIRST. My "failure" to comply with (real or perceived) societal norms resulted in a blighting sense of inadequacy.

Once upon a time, I had been engaged; once upon a time, there had been a chance for me. Now I had to face the harsh reality that my transition from bright-eyed young woman into cynical, spinsterly aunt was imminent - and I was helpless to stop it.

But since then I have done a lot of thinking. I reflected on marriage and divorce and relationships – in general. For much of my adult life, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get married; what I did know was that I didn't want to get divorced. I pondered what the secret was - what makes some marriages happy and lasting and successful (generally speaking) while others end in divorce. I wanted a rhyme to the reason; I wanted to believe that there are "tell-tale signs" or similarities between failed relationships - symptoms that could be identified as treatable or untreatable. I wanted to believe that there are instances of foreshadowing in life that - if one is paying attention - one can heed to avoid an unhappy ending. While this may be true to some degree, there are never any guarantees.

On the plus side, I think I know under what circumstances I would like to marry.

Marriage, to me, is about finding a best friend, a lover and soul mate and pledging to them that no matter what happens, you want to solve your problems, and work together, and experience life's journey together - even when it is not easy. You want to share joy and love, and be there for each other when times are hard. You challenge each other to be better people, while being supportive. You are teammates with shared goals, but you also support each other in your individual goals.

This is what I want in a relationship and in a marriage. If I can't have it, I might be better off as a spinsterly aunt.