My brother, Andras, recently had a sort of awakening about the facts of married life. He was married last October and he and his wife, Jenny, are still in the stage of newlywed bliss when couples call each other “honey” and “baby” and there is a lot of kissing and hugging going on.
A few weeks ago though, Jenny’s grandmother died. They made the drive to Virginia for the funeral and my brother hoped that he could sort of get lost in the crowd and just be there quietly to support Jenny.
It was not to be … Within a few hours of their arrival, he found himself as one of the pallbearers—probably not a very pleasant duty. I think he was still a bit shaken up by the experience when we talked a few days later.
“Nobody tells you this kind of stuff,” he said. “Nobody tells you before the wedding that in a couple of months you are going to be carrying your wife’s grandmother to her grave.”
Ah, yes. There are many things nobody talks about before the wedding. Usually everyone involved is very concerned about your gown or tux, the color of the napkins, the flowers, the cake and picking the right photographer. Nobody talks about the nitty-gritty details of everyday married life and the stuff you’ll have to go through for and because of your spouse.
My little after-wedding surprise was an early morning phone call from Drew on a sunny Saturday, just a month after our wedding. As a volunteer firefighter, he was on a practice burn with his fire company when his gear failed and he got burned from shoulder to elbow. A month before that day, when I was all decked out in a beautiful wedding gown and we danced the night away, the last thing I expected was bandaging third-degree burns on my beloved’s arm. I wouldn’t have even thought that I actually knew how to take care of burn injuries.
And that’s the thing about marriage. No matter how big your extended family might be, suddenly it’s just the 2 of you in this little cocooned unit. When your spouse is in trouble or pain, it’s you who is going to get the phone call, not his mom, or siblings or friends. You are the one who has to bandage the wounds, carry the casket, make the chicken soup or drive to the emergency room.
In the process, you realize that you have all these skills that you never thought you had—you suddenly become an expert nurse, a master chef and a therapist all in one. And what’s even better, is that in return, you suddenly have your own personal nurse, chef and therapist.
Of course, marriage is not all about injuries and death. You’ll also discover a lot of perks—like someone to warm your cold feet at night without much complaint. And somehow along the way, “for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” will suddenly make a lot more sense than it did when you first uttered those words.