Attended a wedding this past weekend and got me thinking a lot about the purpose of weddings and some additional considerations in a relationship.
The purpose of a wedding is multi-fold I think:
a) a celebration of the two sides official commitment to each other.
and secondly, a more subtle purpose
b) a sharing of the love story that allowed us to reach this date.
The second is less important when you invite only very close friends and family members. But it is more important especially when you invite those who aren’t in the inner circle of your life, who may have been aware but not part of the growth in your relationship. Because a wedding isn’t a stand alone event in your life, it is a milestone in a culmination of twists and turns that eventually led to this day and retelling those stories gives people and yourself an idea of what has been overcome and what has yet to come.
c) a thanking of the people who helped you along this way
Also important. The relationship is not a product of only the actions between these two people. It’s also the product of actions of people around them. And giving thanks to the appropriate people is hugely important.
I think this is particularly desired in Asian cultures. It is imo, an emphasized point among Asian cultures to prioritze the well being and functioning of the family unit, instead of the individual. And thus, personal priorities are often sacrificed. So on many levels, an appreciation of family members, elders is particularly desired because of what they think you owe them.
It is a separate and equally important discussion of what our obligation towards sacrifices made for you that you didn’t have any say on and in particular didn’t want? Do you still owe them anything even though you didn’t want them to sacrifice for you? I think this is a large source of the inter-generational strife and conflict in immigrant families. In a perfect world, these sacrifices are mutually agreed upon, appreciated. But in the case of sacrifices that weren’t necessarily desired, what are ones obligations to the responsibilities that came with this sacrifice? A more extreme example would be : Someone decided to donate their kidney for free without your consent, and you in return are responsible of looking after this person for life. I do think there is a lot of inner turmoil among first generations.
But there is often an expectation in Asian culture that elders must be appreciated, especially obvious in the tea ceremony that takes place before the wedding. Managing this expectation and appreciation is especially difficult and hard. If there is an unmatched expectation of appreciation, it leads to further frustration and unhappiness.
d) a meeting and welcoming of people from both sides of the family towards each other.
A wedding as many say is a union of not only two individuals but of two families, and maybe of even two nations sometimes. And I think this is why cross-cultural marriages are difficult. Conflict is always present, but conflict is even more obvious and difficult when you are coming from two completely opposing perspectives. Thus, one can see now some of the logic in arranged marriages.
I do believe in free love and I also desire the individual’s right to the pursuit of happiness, but I also believe in the wisdom of your elders and in the effects of a happy supporting cast (your family and your friends) in your life on your happiness.