I love New Year’s.
As a serial resolutionist any calendar event that promises the hope of a fresh start, a new beginning and a lethal cocktail of drunk friends, Jools Holland and copious amounts of confetti, well that’s my kind of celebration.
Which is fortunate it seems, as 2014 holds for me not one, not two, but three family weddings – I assume Jools will manage to make a cameo appearance on at least one of those special occasions.
While my own personal thoughts on all the upcoming nuptials centre mostly around the financing of three major piss ups – I mean… espousals, I’ve also been considering the whole marriage thing in general.
As an old romantic the concept of spending the rest of your life with the one person you love most in the world is the happy ever after I’d like to read at the end of my own story, but as a realist, and more often than not a cynic, finding that one person in the first place sounds like a complete fairytale to me.
We’ve all heard the statistics, half of all marriages end in divorce, and God knows the half that stay together aren’t all blissfully wed.
Let’s be honest, for most of us, if marriage was a horse, you wouldn’t back it.
Yet here we are in a society that not only still backs marriage but has committed itself wholeheartedly to broadening its appeal with the long overdue passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013.
Despite all the cynicism I still hold out hope in the happy ever afters, much like my totally unrealistic but unwavering faith in the glorious return of Leeds United to top flight football. (Any day now…)
The source of all my philosophising comes not only from this year’s new chapter opening with the promise of weddings, but also from the last chapter closing on a very a real and very poignant end. My dear Grandfather passed away on St. Stephen’s Day at the ripe old age of 86, his funeral leaving me one proposal shy of a Richard Curtis Rom-Com. My Grandad was married for 61 years, he had nine children, 23 grandkids and 1 great-grandchild – quite an impressive innings you have to admit. He lived a good life, he passed away peacefully and will always be fondly remembered by his loved ones as a good father, grandfather, great grandfather, and husband. It’s the kind of happy ever after most us can only dream of.
Happy may sound like a strange or insensitive thing to say about the passing of a loved one, but it is the very thing that all brides and grooms hope for when they stand before their chosen authority and utter the words “til death do us part”.
If death is the only thing that will separate a happy couple, well that is something incredible to be thankful for.
More often than not there are a hundred other sorrows or tragedies that create irreconcilable differences between two people who once considered themselves in perfect harmony. For those couples ‘death’ becomes a symbolic idea – the end of trust or respect or love – because once they are lost, what have you left? There’s nothing to be said for flogging a dead horse.
But being unmarried, unattached and painfully torn between the realms of cynic and old romantic, what the hell do I know?
This, however, I am pretty sure of.
Promising ‘til death do us part’ means nothing if you don’t value the life you give that person. If you make a commitment to be with someone for the rest of your life it shouldn’t just mean ‘til the average life expectancy of an average human being’, it should mean for as long as you can possibly extend your time with them. If you commit your life to the one you love that life should be as full and as happy and as long as you can possibly make it. Even more so if you brave the big bad world of parenthood.
There are cancers and evil diseases in the world that the human race has not yet conquered, that steal days and years and decades from the happy ever after they wished to share with their loved ones. It would be a sin then to waste away the life you have, the life you have pledged to your loved ones.
Marriage is one of the greatest and most daunting adventures anyone can embark on, so to those who do so this year, I salute you and leave you with the most heartfelt and apt words of one of the greatest literary figures of all time, Winnie the Pooh: