If you can help it, don’t get married in the middle of the semester.
You may not be in school, but your “semester” could be anything that’s stressful and “in the middle” of your life—such as being poor, not having a job, having to work at McDonalds’ to pay the rent, or trying to find yourself. For me, it’s just what it sounds like—a semester, one among many.
But if you can’t help getting married in the middle of the “semester”—and this is essential—don’t listen to me. Don’t let an in, by, without or any other preposition keep you away from that blissful verb “to marry“. Because it is wonderful.
I’m saying this from the vantage point of not having actually initiated that adventure yet. I’m writing this in a car, my fiancé beside me, rushing at the last minute to get some final preparations done before our marriage 23 hours from now. She is wonderful to me—and this is part of what’s so thrillingly exciting—is that she lets me be myself. She’ll let me write in the car, giddy as a schoolgirl, because the kind of love we enjoy is the love that supports individuality while celebrating a very special relationship. We care deeply about each others’ goals. Yes, she bugs me sometimes—and I bug her. But although we misunderstand each other sometimes, we never, never, never question each other’s sincerity. We both have our differences, yet we both admire, respect, and support each others’ differences as we best know how.
Engagement, on the other hand, has been high stress. It’s been hard, particularly because we’ve had to depend on each other. We’ve had to endure a steady stream of stressful days punctured by intentional, deliberate times where our only goal is to have fun. Again, part of this has stemmed from the fact that we’re getting married in the middle of the semester and her family’s situation and circumstances. Much of it was beyond our control. But it’s been present, nonetheless, and I have—on more than one occasion—found myself hugging her for several minutes, tears in my eyes, grateful to be holding someone who loves me in spite of my own mistakes. (Remember, real men do cry. As Five for Fighting taught me, “even heroes have a right to bleed.”)
Now for a linguistics lesson.
A lexical gap is where one language has a word for something that another language doesn’t. (A good friend of mine likes to ask travelers or returned missionaries from a foreign country, “What word do you miss?” Frequently, the answer is a word for which there isn’t quite an English equivalent.) One word is amae, a word for which the best translation might be “emotional security through belonging,” or similarly, “to depend on the benevolence of others.” It’s like a baby who comes to terms with the ideas of self and other—the realization that it is an individual, capable of being separated. For a baby, it learns to feel safe in its’ mothers’ arms. Once it feels safe, it can grow, it can make mistakes, and it can try and try and try again.
That is what engagement has symbolized to me. Being engaged has meant an engagement of the mind, of the heart, of my personal character, in an effort to grow. My fiancé and I are not the same person. We are different. She’s a night owl; I’m an early bird. She’s late for everything; I (try to be) early for everything. She’s people-oriented, and I can often times fall lockstep into a “task-orientation,” to-do list mode. On a more obvious but nonetheless important note, she’s a girl, and I’m a boy. We smooth each other’s rough edges, and the process is anything but smooth. We’ve had to clarify misunderstanding, deal with differences, explain our personal preferences, and reconcile (slightly) differing values and perspectives. It is never easy.
But because we feel safe with each other—because we rely on each others’ benevolence—we can open up with each other. We can be vulnerable. I can tell her what’s really on my mind, which I can do with so few people, and behold! A magic thing called “love” happens, like two chemicals meeting each other and forming something entirely new.
When times get tough, Marjorie Hinckley once said, one has two options—to laugh or to cry. “Crying gives me a headache,” she continued, so she opts to laugh. Marriage will no doubt come with its stresses, but as Elder Richard G. Scott once told a group of missionaries—anything you can do single, you can do with someone—and when it’s with someone you love and who loves you back, why not do it that way? We’ll be broke together, but better than being broke alone—and so on and so forth with cooking, budgeting, living, playing, growing, and becoming the person you intended yourself to become. In the arms of someone with whom you can feel a permanent, committed belonging, becoming comes so much more easily. “Divorce” is, for us, not an option. The very word coming up in our marriage would undermine this beautiful dependency, for which I have grown so fond of.
So if you can help it, don’t get married in the middle of the semester. But if you can’t, get married anyway. 23 hours away and counting, and in a maelstrom of the messiness that always accompanies life, nothing could be better than starting to live with someone who makes life a little more worth living. And I know, because we have had storms of stress come our way and through it, we’ve depended on each other.
Amae. Interdependence. Whatever you wish to call it, it’s beautiful. And I cannot wait to depend on her, and she on me, forever.