Spring brings on matrimonial madness

There must be something in the water, or the air. For the past two months, nearly all of my friends and many other people I know have announced they are getting married. Experts say spring tends to be the season for love to bloom, but something tells me this is getting out of hand.
Even before someone tells you he or she is getting married, you can tell by something in his or her eyes. Call it excitement, speculation, fear, oblivion — whatever you like, but it’s there, and it blocks out all sense this person may previously have possessed.
Let’s review the symptoms. For the first week after a couple is engaged, each partner will have a glazed expression, interspersed with moments of daydreaming. They usually giggle, smile, gaze off into the distance (and here’s the clincher) and sigh at least 18 times an hour. Studies have shown this. I swear.
However, it’s what comes after the first week that signifies the onset of insanity. First, when you’re engaged the whole world is a wonderful place and everyone in it is your best friend. Everybody wants to hear how he proposed from start to finish, without omission of one single detail. And the engaged party will tell the story 4,000 times without even realizing how many times he or she has told it. Furthermore, each rendition has the same fervor with which the original oration was delivered.
This is normal behavior if you’re getting married. When you see these symptoms, you will know for certain that friends and family have delved into the great abyss. Let the games begin.
My family had all but given up hope that my brother would ever marry. He’s 34 years old, and it’s amazing how the older a man gets, the more set in his ways he becomes. He became really picky about the women he would date, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But we had all decided that he would forever remain a bachelor, mostly because no self-respecting woman would tolerate his gruff exterior.
Then he met AnnMarie. From the first time he brought her home for dinner, we all knew she was the one. She fits right in with our family, and has truly tamed the savage beast my brother once was. For that, we are eternally grateful.
So last month when he told us he had planned this elaborate proposal, none of us were surprised. As a matter of fact, we were all thrilled that, at last, my brother would be married and we wouldn’t have to remember birthdays and anniversaries for him anymore.
Then it hit me. My brother’s getting married. That means a wedding, invitations and chaos. And bills. I’ve heard the wedding horror stories and have filed the warnings away in my memory bank to be heeded when my time comes. But I never actually believed that the day would come for my brother … or that it would be just six short months away.
Soon we will begin the detailed negotiations about who should be invited. Since the happy couple has somewhat limited resources, we do have to limit the number of bodies in the seats. Yet, we are already asking ourselves if it would be better to save money and incur the wrath of half the world, or just appease them and pay the piper.
I will give my brother and his fiancee much credit, however, for deciding only to let children in the immediate family come to the wedding. There is nothing worse than having a room full of screaming, hungry children in addition to the other pressures of a wedding.
If you think about it, planning and paying for a wedding is one of the biggest tasks a person can undertake in his or her life. You have to worry about pleasing everyone and still having an occasion that you will remember for the rest of your life. My sister makes silk flower arrangements for weddings and one client actually paid her money to distract an overbearing mother-in-law.
One thing is certain: You don’t want to go through the whole process more than once, so you better make sure you’re making the right choice the first time around.
In the late 1980s, about 3 percent of all women who had once stood at the altar had since divorced. Even though not as many people are getting married today, about 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. Obviously, marriage is not for the fainthearted. But what I’ve always wondered is why people would go through all the trouble of getting married and then throw it all away? People should definitely be more careful about who they choose before they take the plunge. Either that, or society should do away with the big, grandiose expensive weddings and stick to the basics. Do you love me? Will you spend the rest of your life with me? Enough said.
In all seriousness, how do you know the person you are choosing to marry isn’t some ax murderer or the latest profiled criminal on “America’s Most Wanted?” You are devoting your life to this person. With our world changing as fast as it does, creating people as different as we all are, it just doesn’t pay to rush into a decision as important as marriage.
On the flip side, when you finally meet a person who makes you happy and completes you, don’t let them go. There are so many people in this world afraid to commit, who then lose the ones they have sought their entire lives. There’s something to be said for seizing the day in such a situation.
Let’s face it. I don’t know all the answers. But I do know weddings are not something that come fast when they’re done right. It takes years of knowing yourself and knowing what you need from a mate to make a relationship that will last forever.
As for all of you who are planning a wedding or an engagement in the near future, I wish you the best of luck as you carry on a time-honored tradition. Marriage and family are what makes our society strong, and I’m glad there are those who still believe in them.
But in all practicality, let me give you two words of advice: just elope.
Michelle Kibiger’s column appears every Wednesday in the Daily.