Doubts, Regrets, and Getting Married

Prelude: This story is true and a first for me.  Couples marry for many reasons, and I respect almost each one  However, make no mistake: weddings are joyful, but marriage is a serious, intimate commitment that can bring much happiness if the couple freely enters it with a shared understanding of what they want their marriage to involve or unhappiness and emotional heartache if they do not.  It’s also true that the couple described below may enjoy a brilliant future together.  At the same time, no person should marry with discomfort or doubts that the spouse-to-be cannot help soothe.

In town for personal reasons, a couple contacted me about their last-minute wedding.  License already acquired, they wished to marry the next day before departing for their home in another state.  “How sweet,” I thought to myself!  The next day, the Bride kindly called to let me know that their car service was running late.  When all seemed in place, the couple called to say they were a few blocks away, but understandably confused about how to navigate Central Park.  The groom expressed some frustration at his wife-to-be: it was not subtle.  Liam and I offered to meet them at the street to help guide the way to the spot they had chosen.  As the couple walked up, though, it was clear to us that the lovely bride was unhappy and the groom had at some point indulged in alcohol, which would not be an issue if he was not so apparently irritated and angry.  When we asked more than once about their *joint* preferences for a site, they did not seem to be on the same wavelength: the groom noted “anywhere close,” and the bride said nothing.  I pulled her aside and asked her point blank if she wanted to get married.  She was hesitant and conveyed how upset she felt at the entire situation (recall that the pair had come to NYC for a “personal” reason).  I gave her a hug and told her she should not get married unless she was sure.   In the meantime, the groom told Liam that “she wanted to get married more than him.”  As the bride and I walked back, the groom emphatically said that “they should get married.”  I replied that “I would not marry them” and continued walking the bride to the car. Once we crossed the street, she inquired as to “whether they could get an annulment.”  To this comment, which filled me with sadness, I could only say: “possibly, but you should not enter a marriage with such thoughts.”  It’s one thing to marry for papers or insurance or for the children or for any other agreed upon reason.   Yet, an officiant ought to act responsibly and ethically.  Free consent must be readily available.

The sage does continue beyond the shortened story depicted here.  Let me conclude by asserting that I told my wonderful spouse how much I loved him and felt deeply appreciative multiple times the night after this event took place.

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