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Show Up!

Wedding bliss is in the air all around me and I love it! My eldest son will be married in October to a young woman who I will be proud and happy to call my daughter, leaving out the in-law part! Then my sister surprised us all when she called to say that she and her longtime love decided to get married in June. Woo hoo! Big excitement!

The latest story though is the most bittersweet and one where I will never know the ending. It all started with a prom night called “Night to Shine” a few weeks ago. This is an event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and it is about celebrating people with special needs. Each female attendee gets her hair and makeup done and then she is given a corsage. Male attendees get a boutonnière and all attendees have the opportunity to take a ride in the limo being dropped off at the red carpet where the paparazzi take their pictures. Then there is dinner, dancing, and the crowning of the king and queen of the prom. Shhh…don’t tell new attendees but every attendee wins with each fella getting a crown and each lady getting a tiara!

Paul and I volunteered as buddies. That meant that we were the date for an attendee at the prom. It was our duty to meet our dates when they arrived and to make sure that all their needs were met - the primary one being to have fun. We were given some guidelines on how to handle situations that could arise and were told that trained medical staff would be on hand if required. Parents and guardians were able to drop off the attendee and had their own hall where they could hang out, enjoy dinner, relax, and maybe even win a raffle prize. We were assigned a young couple that was already dating, so in effect, we were going on a double date.

Dressed in all our finery we waited for our dates, John and Galinda. Another buddy behind us said that it was like going on a blind date because none of us knew what our dates would be like! That was mostly true. I had spoken to Galinda’s mother so I knew that our couple was aged 22 and 20 and both suffered from cerebral palsy with Galinda in a wheelchair. John could walk with a cane but his speech may be hard to understand. That was all we knew. So we waited. And waited. And waited. Our dates were late. We phoned to see if they were still coming. No answer. As we were making the decision to move on they arrived.

We heard from Galinda’s mum that upon arriving at the venue John had requested that they go to the pavilion out back where he had asked Galinda to marry him! She was beaming, smiling from ear to ear, and it made our evening with them even more fun.

All this got me to thinking about what advice I would give my son (unsolicited of course!) about marriage considering his Dad and I divorced. I think the simple thing I would say is to “show up.” For example, when he says yes to his future wife about doing something, anything, then do it and do it in the agreed upon time or discuss with her why the timing won’t work and set a new time. Show up by applauding her accomplishments, recognizing (in small and sometimes large ways) how much she contributes to their life together, and be prepared to have difficult, adult conversations when things are not going well.

The most important one though is the following. When he feels frustrated with this whole marriage thing and all he can see is what she is doing wrong, or not doing at all then I’d like to ask him to pause looking within himself deeply. What mistakes has he made, where has he not done what was asked of him, and what about him does he think frustrates his wife. Then I’d suggest that he finds ways to give/be/or do for his wife all the things that he feels she’s not giving/being/or doing for him. It’s a tall order for a young person but marriage, heck; any solid relationship is a big thing and a lifetime is a long time!

I would go so far as to say for any and all relationships showing up is a key element in success. If you have a relationship that is not going well perhaps you need to take that pause and ask what more you could be giving/being/or doing.

With all that John and Galinda have going on in their physical bodies their marriage will be lived from a different place to what I’m accustomed to but the affection they shared during the evening they spent with us was apparent. And I have no doubt they will make it work.

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