My CatholicMatch fiancé and I had the best marriage preparation session this week. We weren’t gathered around a conference room table with our Priest or even learning a valuable lesson from our parents, who, combined, have nearly 60 years of marriage under their belts. We were actually alone, and we were cleaning. This was not just the 30-minute power cleaning session that I mastered in college – this was the three-hour deep clean that clearly never occurred in my fiancé’s bachelor pad before I entered his life two years ago.
Surrounded by a plethora of cleaners, brooms mops and vacuums, we worked silently, sweeping, dusting and mopping every inch of his cozy Cape Cod style home. As I re-secured my pony tail and proceeded to spray cleaner over an especially- cloudy window, I took inventory of my faded work clothes. Not exactly a glamorous bride-to-be, I thought to myself, but this is, after all, real life.
It wasn’t until the buckets, mops and rags returned to the basement and we were sitting on the couch relishing in our successful cleaning adventure that the concept of real, married life sunk in. Since last June, we have toured reception sites, analyzed flower choices and hand-picked the perfect vendor for each element of our big day, but all of that planning pales into comparison to what we are really preparing for—a real, shared life rooted in faith.
Nothing was more real to me that Tuesday night than cleaning the home that we will eventually share as husband and wife. George and I have experienced many romantic dates that have left butterflies in my stomach, but some of the most meaningful moments we have shared have been prompted by the day-to-day activities that most would not constitute as a date night.
George and I are not naïve to the fact that married life is not like a never-ending wedding day—there are bills to pay, errands to run and daily tasks to complete, and that’s before we even have kids! If you’ve been married before, you can attest to that. We’ve spent our dating years enjoying a balance of special outings and real-life activities. We’ve learned just as much about each other putting together a new TV stand as we have around a restaurant table!
Even as we’re preparing for marriage, the elements of real life permeate the cake tastings, gown fittings and bridal showers. As we now discuss shared checking accounts, our career goals and where we want to raise a family, we inch closer and closer to the conversations that married couples have each and every day. It’s not always fun and exciting, but it’s more real than a tulle gown, a five-tier cake and a savings account-draining honeymoon.
I know that this time in our lives is so crucial for us to build a foundation for when we say “I do” in less than one year. Yet our calendars are overflowing with work and social obligations, and it’s testing my “Minnesota nice” inclination to always say yes.
Catholic writer Christina Capecchi said it best in a recent “Twenty-Something” column when commenting on our society’s fast pace: “The person with the fullest calendar wins.” George and I are consciously making choices in the months ahead to ensure that a double-booked calendar doesn’t rule our lives. We both need this time to not only transition our physical things as we move in together post-wedding, but to transition mentally and spiritually. This is a time to celebrate, but it’s also time to reflect on the sacrament of marriage, which far outshines just any wedding day.
As I look to our wedding day, I see my walk down the aisle, the toasts and the first dance, but I also see the months and years ahead, dotted with the special moments that I know will make our years of dating worth it and more.
Within our marriage, I see our first home, our first child and more. But in between those life-changing events sits those little moments like deep cleaning on a Tuesday night that have me convinced that real life—not just a wedding—is worth waiting for.