Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Lesson from Tori Spelling

Planning a wedding takes a lot of work. Beyond the appointments with vendors, the shopping, registering for gifts, addressing save the dates and invites, there's a lot of self-reflection that goes into planning a wedding.

Remember, a wedding isn't just going to a church and throwing a party, it's starting a marriage. Marriage is all around, but, at least for me, wasn't something I considered too much before getting engaged.

I mean, I thought about marrying my boyfriend and how amazing it is that my parents have been married for nearly 30 years. I've seen movies and read books. I thought about marriage, but the consideration I gave it before getting engaged is nothing compared to what I think about now. Before I was thinking of marriage in terms of what it meant to other people or in other situations. When it came to thinking about marrying my now-fiance, I thought about how I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. But it's more than that now.

Now I think of marriage in terms of what it means to me personally and as part of a couple. I think of mundane things like what it means to share a bank account or a bathroom. What it means to be with each other every day, all the time. It's going to be amazing, particularly because we've been long distance for the majority of our relationship, but it may very well also be a struggle. Part of the struggle will be, and has been, fully sharing my life with another person, for better or worse.

I recently read Tori Spelling's memoir "sTORI Telling" (don't judge, it's actually really good). In her book she discusses her first failed marriage and her relationship with and second marriage to Dean McDermott. One revelation she makes is of the conscious changes she makes to her own behaviors  to better herself and her relationship with Dean. While the two are working through ending their first marriages, Tori talks about her deliberate choice to be open and honest with Dean rather than acting timid and alone:
I'd hear Dean on the phone with his wife discussing the children. When he hung up, I'd have withdrawn. He'd ask what was wrong, and my first instinct was to say, Nothing, nothing's wrong. I'm tired. I have a headache. But I decided to break that habit. I always told Dean the truth. I'd say, "I feel like you're going to go back to her." It was scary, making myself vulnerable like that, but I was determined not to repeat my past.
I really love that she admits this decision, because this has been true for me too in my relationship. When you're single and your actions really only affect yourself, lying is easy. No one gets hurt. There aren't many long-term consequences to white lies outside of a relationship. But once your life and someone else's are intertwined, you have to open up. You can't hide. If you do then you're not giving the other person a fair and honest chance to know you. And knowing each other's worst and most insecure moments but loving and supporting each other anyways is a huge part of being in love. It's a huge part of being in a committed relationship. Besides, when you're in love you no longer want to hide anything about your life from your partner. At least Tori and I don't.

Wedding Marriage planning has taught me this. Considering my future, the rest of my life, with my fiance has shown me that the key to relationship success is honesty and trust, even if opening up is scary or awkward at first. I'm at the point where complete transparency in my relationship is second nature, but at first this was something I actually had to decide to do, just like Tori. I had to make the choice between hiding within myself and closing my fiance off from the "real" me and telling him everything I thought and felt and allowing him into my life in a huge way.

And maybe that's the biggest message of all: marriage can't be superficial or it's doomed to fail. Marriage is a complex relationship which involves every part of the people in the relationship. It's a two-way street in which we have to both open ourselves up and let the other person in. You can't have one without the other; it's reliant on total harmony. And that's a great and beautiful thing.

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