No. of Recommendations: 4
<For me and DF, well, the thing we both love to do together is cook. He and his sons are quite the chefs, but they're meat focused. So they do the meat and I stir up the vegetables and we end up with fabulous food. They're also mighty fine with soups, come to think of it.

The other things we do together are study subjects like infidelity and addiction. (We met while we were volunteering for a group that helps couples in crisis.) I'm not exactly sure how we incorporate that into a wedding -- in a positive way, that is -- but we'll see.>

Think back to a time where life was much less secure. Famine was one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, because people really did die of hunger. There was no social safety net. Poverty and sickness were much more pervasive, than they are now. To be solitary was to be in real danger of death.

Marriage is a protective institution. By pledging each other faithfulness and loyalty, through all of life's dangers and setbacks, the couple knows that each will protect the other. Trusting each other, both vow that, as a married couple, they are stronger and safer than two individuals, from a practical standpoint. Only in modern times does society provide enough protection, for individuals, that people can lose sight of the primal necessity of having someone to shield you. Most people marry when they are young, and don't consider how much safer marriage makes them, when they are old and vulnerable.

Since you and your DF met at a group that exposes the betrayal of both the spiritual and practical bases of marriage, you seem to be pervaded with the negative possibilities. That's like trying to learn about life by serving in a hospital: you might get the impression that life is all about being sick. Marriage is not about betrayal: that's a sick aberration! To learn about how to create a good marriage, you might want to approach happily long-married couples, and ask for their positive experiences.

Statistics show that married people are more prosperous and live longer than unmarried people. The majority of marriages are not polluted by infidelity and addiction. All marriages have their own, unique problems and tough spots, but most couples honor their wedding vows.

Consider the standard Protestant marriage ceremony.* We have all heard it so many times, on TV, that it's easy to forget that these are solemn vows.

To have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both live!

The marriage vows are very positive, and specifically designed to provide tangible, practical security. It gets right to the heart of the toughest challenges in a marriage: fidelity, life setbacks, money and health problems.

The institution of marriage (as opposed to a couple simply living together) was designed by people who had seen a lot of life-threatening difficulties. The vows are solemn and binding: to overcome the tough spots, to hang in there, whatever happens.

It shouldn't be tough to design a positive, affirmative wedding ceremony, since the traditional wedding ceremony is specifically written to do that. You might want to add some clauses of your own. You might want to include mention of DF's children. You might want to consider some other possibilities.

Since you, DF and his sons are all into food, you can work that into the reception. Food symbolizes security, prosperity and love, in a very tangible way. I'm pretty down-to-earth, so the fancy-schmantzy modern wedding panoply doesn't appeal to me...but a hands-on, food-centered, that could be warm, welcoming and fun. Centerpieces of colorful gourds, fruits and vegetables, instead of ice sculptures and ribbons. More Breughel* than "Desperate Housewives."

Find your own comfort zone. Never mind modern conventions.

*Since we had a Jewish ceremony, we didn't use these Protestant vows, but I still think they are wonderful.

Incidentally, I disagree with the author of the essay. I think the bridegroom is the well-dressed man on the right, conversing with the monk. I think it symbolizes the fact that a husband and wife can have different interests. The bride is perfectly happy, in her social world. The husband has separate intellectual interests. Both are more content, if each allows the other space. They don't need to do or think the same things, at all times, for both to be content.
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