A VERY HAPPY OCCASION
Last week, I had the immense pleasure of attending a very, very special event. It was my brother’s wedding. The day had finally arrived to tie the knot with his beautiful partner of more than 8 years. I couldn’t be happier for them both. It was a lovely occasion, for two of the most loveliest people I have ever met in my life.
Not only was I thrilled to be sharing the day with them, I was thrilled to be asked to do a reading for them as part of their civil ceremony.
A civil ceremony is simply a non-religious, legal marriage, which is conducted by a legal official instead of a religious one. So it was essential that my reading was free of any religious content.
FINDING SOMETHING TO FIT
My bride and groom-to-be, were very laid back (as always), and they gave me free reign to find something I thought would fit. Excited by this prospect, I started my search on Google (other search engines are of course available!), to see what I could find for inspiration. I imagined there’d be too many to choose from, and that it would probably take me some while. I was surprised to find just a handful; once I’d sifted out the ones with religious connotations, ones with superfluous language that wasn’t true to their style, or with out-of-date models of marriage. In sharing the shortlist with my brother, only one came anywhere near close - ‘The Art of Marriage’ by Wilferd Arlan Peterson. Yet I couldn’t rest, it bugged me, what felt like important things seemed to be missing.
For me, my biggest reference point for relationships comes from my parents… From the unfortunate, yet helpful perspective of HOW NOT to do marriage. It’s through those early life experiences and it’s knock on effects that has lead me to study relationships so deeply, through scientific literature as well as careful observation. For no other reasons than so I can do better in my own marriage and help others in theirs. And so, with these insights, I set about moulding this reading into something that reflected a compelling, yet possible blueprint for a happy marriage. I hoped that it might serve as a gentle reminder for those of us in the room that have been married a while, that we might think differently or take something practical away with us that we might change for ourselves and our partner. And naturally something that might serve as a valuable gift for these very important newlyweds!
The big day arrived and the leading legal lady commanded that she check the reading first. I can only assume it was so that I hadn’t shoehorned something religious into it. As I looked across the room I couldn’t conceal my surprise that there was no lectern, which was awkward as I had decided to keep my precious reading on my phone. It saved shuffling papers or misplacing them after all! She stiffly asked if I’d booked a lectern, and went on to inform me that it was unusual for people to use their phone. We quickly moved on. When it was time, I concealed my phone using an order of service, steadied myself and read from the heart.
In those three minutes, as I read aloud and scanned the room, the range of reactions on peoples faces and in their bodies was varied and interesting. Some warm smiles, some welling or steady tears, blank stares, sadness, some squirming, and for some, what looked to be crippling shame. I did my best not to get distracted or swamped by the emotions of others, which was obviously a very mixed, and personal bag. I maintained an open mind, it’s not my place to judge, and nor am I in a position to either - we are all human, perfectly imperfect, and works in progress.
MY PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
Weddings are a great cause for celebration and a very natural moment to pause and take stock. It’s a milestone for many and so it’s a moment in our life where we might call to question some of our beliefs. What do we believe about love?… about relationships?… about Marriage? To what extent do we believe in and follow time honoured traditions? Where do we carve out our own traditions? How are we doing? How do we relate to others?
I, for one, think we might just be on the cusp of a pivotal moment for the institution of marriage in the UK. When, only a few weeks ago, Theresa May announced that straight couples would soon be allowed civil partnerships. This followed a Supreme Court ruling that existing legislation was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. I has made me question where I stand…
If I’d been given the choice between a legal marriage or a legal partnership, which would I choose? Which one of these constructs best fits me, my other half, and our relationship? Does it matter to me? If so, how much? What does this tell me about myself? Given the opportunity to change, would I? It certainly gave me plenty of food for thought and discussion. Clearly it matters to many, so it’s an exciting and welcome development.
‘THE ART AND SCIENCE OF A HAPPY PARTNERSHIP’
With these upcoming changes in mind, and in the spirit of evolution and creativity. I decided to adapt my reading one last time, and would like to share with you. To access your free copy of ‘The Art and Science of a Happy Partnership’ click here.
To what extend do you agree? What would you change? What do you and your partner do well? What one thing can you commit to doing to improve it?
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