Martha’s Vineyard is a perfect place to start a life. Especially in the fall. A time for renewal. A time to re-tool. The next best thing to moving here is marrying here. The perfect place to start a life — together.
In all the years we’ve been coming here, counting the 17 months we have lived here full-time, we must have attended more than a dozen weddings. Now we have a few more coming up. The setting says it all. Why wouldn’t you want to get married on this Island?
First of all, for some, it’s a destination celebration. A wedding that requires a boat or plane makes it memorable. Then there’s the scenery: a congenial landscape in harmony with a seascape of timeless imagery. To that add the fall season: on this Island that means “leaves” in every sense of the word. From the leaves that change color and then leave their homes — to summer’s leaving and taking many folks with it — to a time for marriage vows and other reasons for taking leave of your senses.
You’re making a leap of faith. So why not do it under the welcoming arms of loving trees and open Island skies, through the misty salt air and sun-dappled beauty? There are no guarantees. Life with another is like those pharmaceutical ads that caution with a litany of possible side effects: “May cause sudden weight gain, insufferable heartaches or missed opportunities. May cause drowsiness — do not operate heavy machinations.”
So the tradition continues, couple by couple, dream dancing, following their hearts down grassy and sandy aisles. A day for a haiku.
Perp walks in the clouds
In Vineyard autumns charged with
Three brides I know are about to take the plunge here: Maggie Barron, Amanda Cohen and Jaime Hamlin.
I have often regretted not getting married here, mainly because the day we got married it was five below zero and Boston was iced-over. But that was over 30 years ago. I’ve learned a few things since. This weekend, there are some personal observations I plan to give Maggie, whom I’ve known since she was born. But here I’d like to offer some generalities, a sort of Marriage for Dummies.
You wouldn’t be choosing the Island for your wedding unless you felt a wedding was in fact the next step, and you wouldn’t feel that unless you felt as two individuals you were in fact — simpatico.
First, keep in mind why you are simpatico. For example, my wife Paula and I saw the writing on the wall around the fifth date. We were in The Bull and the Finch Pub in Boston, commonly known as the Cheers Bar. The waitress took Paula’s drink order. She asked for something I had not heard from her before or since. She asked for a Rusty Nail. That’s when you like some scotch with your scotch. “And for you?,” the waitress turned to me. “And I’ll have a tetanus shot,” I said. We’ve been together ever since. Not the waitress, but Paula and I. True story.
The second most important thing is acceptance. Don’t try to change each other. At least not in grandiose or mythological ways. Accept each other for who you are. This leads to my third rule: Remember why you fell in love. What about the other person made that little voice inside scream “This is it!”? That’s why you need acceptance. And this is what will carry you over a lot of bumpy roads.
Which takes me to number four, best summed up as, “Oh my God, my mate is flawed! Can I live with this?” Flaws have to be seen in perspective, in relation to the whole person. What’s the problem here? Is it major or minor? “You’re not really going to wear that tonight, are you?” Or, “You know, I think I’m going to take your keys and weld them to your pants.” You have to ask yourself: Wasn’t this flaw there before we got married? Is it really that much of a bother? Can I just take a deep breath and forget about it? The bottom line: Are the positives stronger than the negatives?
Finally, I want to leave you with what we were told on our wedding day by the cleric who married us. Three phrases starting with “I” — three simple thoughts: I love. I want. I’m sorry. That’s it. Learn to start a sentence every so often with one of these phrases. It helps to keep reminding each other: I love you. Good for what ails you. Also it’s good every now and then to toss off a compliment, to show appreciation. “I love that you bought my favorite ice cream.” Or “I love that you remembered to recycle.” Don’t discount the small stuff. To say “I want” is to say what’s on your mind and not force your mate into Adult Ed. Classes on ESP. Say what you really want and don’t hide the agenda. Finally, I’m sorry. A good apology goes a long way. Keeps the air clear and reminds your mate you’re human and flawed, but considerate. “I’m sorry I recycled your ice cream.”
Now go forth, be fruitful and add one plus one.
Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.