If your summer has been anything like mine, you’re probably feeling a little wedding-ed out.
The summer has been full of pins, and talk about centerpieces, and buying expensive dresses you didn’t pick out for yourself. All your spare weekends and frequent flier miles and paychecks have been going towards bachelorette parties and shower gifts and hotel rooms for the wedding weekend.
You wouldn’t have it any other way, certainly. Being a part of a friend’s wedding is an honor, and a gift, and there’s no place you’d rather spend your money. But weddings can also be exhausting in more ways than one.
I get more emails than I can count from women trying not to lose their minds as all their friends are getting married.
The frustration is multifaceted, certainly. Some frustrated about the cost, some the time, and some the energy.
But still others are feeling left behind as all their friends embark on this new voyage of marriage, like a cruise they all get to take together—you standing on the dock waving goodbye.
Others are feeling the wedding salt rubbing in their wounds as they watch their friends drive off into the sunset—making their broken heart, loneliness, or hopelessness about relationships extra painful.
Marriage is a very public right of passage that stops everyone’s world to revolve around that one couple for a season. It’s not something you can just float over, or turn your face away from, or sleep through.
You’re forced to look at all their couply engagement photos, to make the slideshow of just how perfectly their lives lined up, and to buy them gifts to fill their perfect new apartment.
You’re forced to watch her open every single piece of lingerie, and to act excited all the while calculating in your head just how long it’s going to be until you get to wear lingerie like that and actually have someone see it.
The process of waiting for Carl to propose to me was a long, tough wait. We had been talking about marriage for so long, and he’d been so cryptic with the timing, I was convinced it would never really happen.
On Christmas Eve, I got a text from a good friend saying her boyfriend had proposed. She sent me gorgeous photos of the ring, and the cliff where he’d done it. It was perfect.
And as I scrolled through the photos and wrote her back with copious exclamation points and lots of capital letters, I began to cry.
I was so happy for her, and for all of the other friends I’d watched get engaged recently. But I also wasn’t happy all at the same time. I was happy for them, but hurting for me, and somehow their happiness seemed to make my sadness even worse.
Whether it made sense or not, part of me felt like as each couple got engaged, they took something away from my ability to get engaged. I felt like there was only so much engagement to go around and as each guy popped the question, it felt like another wall went up between me and Carl and our ability to ever get to that place.
It’s a ridiculous thought, because of course their engagement had no affect on our ability to do the same. But it felt like it did, absolutely.
And this is why I think weddings are so hard for many of us.
Instead of watching our friends getting married and being able to celebrate fully, it feels like we’re losing something in the process. It feels like somehow their marriage pushes us further and further away from our own wedding day.
It’s hard for us to celebrate a “plus” in someone else’s life when it feels like that “plus” causes a “minus” in our own.
But that’s not the case, and I think we’re giving up so much by believing that feeling.
Our stories unfold differently—every single one of them. We’re all at different places in our relationships, our personal growth, our families, our careers, none of our stories unfold the same way, and we all have great things happen at different times.
And while yes, it can be excruciating to watch a friend get something you’ve wanted for so long, the fact that she’s getting that thing in no way means you won’t get it too.
Their marriage did not soak up our portion of the marriage magic, her promotion didn’t steal my ability to get one too.
They say, “comparison is the thief of joy” and this has never been truer. When we compare our stories to the stories unfolding around us, we don’t make our story happen faster, instead, we become bitter, and jealous, and angry. And I know there has to be a better way.
There’s no limit to the good things that can happen in people’s lives, and at some point it will be our turn. So along the way, let’s be people who celebrate those wonderful things, no matter who they’re happening to, knowing there’s enough to go around.