If you’re married, chances are there was a Before and an After for you, when the gradual movement towards a wedding suddenly felt inevitable. Before that moment, or that conversation, or that subtle turning of your heart, you weren’t sure if this relationship was any different than the others before it had been. After this turning point, you were somehow willing to bind your life to this person in joy and in sorrow.
For me, I don’t know the exact moment I decided I’d marry my husband, but I do clearly remember the moment I realized my heart had quietly decided this while I wasn’t paying close attention.
I was with my father at a very loud Buffalo Wild Wings, and he asked in a casual tone if I thought I’d end up marrying the guy I’d been dating. (Now a parent myself and a little wiser, I understand that the question asked in that noisy restaurant was anything but casual for my dad.) Without having to think too hard, I said, “Yeah, I think I will.” Hearing my own voice say those words with such surety halted us both, and we cried into our chicken wings.
Today in the lobby, my eyes follow an excited young couple. She is wearing a beautiful white sundress that is special enough to seem like she may be headed to a rehearsal dinner. Sure enough, Carlye and Mike are getting married—tomorrow! On the eve of the day that changes everything, I ask them what that moment was for them, the one that veered them inexorably toward tomorrow’s alter.
Carlye tells me about a stuffed animal she still has from her childhood, a rare species maybe called a Puffalump, that is tattered from love. (Carlye’s brother is all-too-happy to report how “utterly disgusting” Puffy was–“That thing should have been burned.”)
Brothers may not have a lot of tenderness in their hearts for their sister’s precious toys, but true love is strong enough to sail seas, scale walls and even care about ugly stuffed animals. Mike saw that Puffy was looking especially bedraggled, so he got out a needle and thread and stitched him up for Carlye. She says she knew then that he’d eventually be her husband.
Mike can’t wait to travel with his new bride. He’s visited 49 states and the remaining one, Hawaii, is a destination they eventually plan to honeymoon to. For about ten years, just a few states languished on his To-See list, until Carlye helped him tick them off by planning a birthday surprise trip to Connecticut and Rhode Island and then another to a few places they had little desire to visit, Idaho and Montana. When days with Carlye in those lackluster states and at home too felt “seamless” to Mike, he knew he wanted to marry her.
Sometimes the decision to marry might feel fated, even catastrophic. Other times it might be much more level-headed, a careful measuring of what life would be like with or without the other.
Maybe you witnessed a tender kindness like a stitching up of a threadbare and beloved childhood companion, and you simply knew in your bones who your companion would be all your days.
Mike and Carlye’s Wedding Stats:
Time Engaged: 1.5 years
Hailing From: Wisconsin (him) and Maryland (her)
The Most Interesting Wedding Party Ever:
Best Woman- his sister
Best Man- 4th grade nephew
Men of Honor- her brothers
Matron of Honor- sister-in-law
Maid of Honor- 5 year old niece