THE LONG VIEW: All’s fair in love, war and impending marriages

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Human interaction is often complicated and messy. That’s probably because we human beings can be messy and complicated, too.

I suppose this has a lot to do with how we evolved; our ability to impart information to one another was heavily dependent on how well we recognized our tribe’s verbal and facial cues. Even within the same group, then as now, misunderstandings could lead to dismay or even threats to the group’s survival.

Human interaction is often complicated and messy. That’s probably because we human beings can be messy and complicated, too.

I suppose this has a lot to do with how we evolved; our ability to impart information to one another was heavily dependent on how well we recognized our tribe’s verbal and facial cues. Even within the same group, then as now, misunderstandings could lead to dismay or even threats to the group’s survival.

Visiting my girlfriend in North Carolina this week, I help prepare for her younger son’s destination wedding and am privy to all sorts of important communication. As mother of the groom, my sweetheart is keenly involved in the many details surrounding this weekend’s nuptials.

There are sundry nuts-and-bolts issues – who will bring what quantity of ice to the rented mountain chalet where the reception will be held, how and when the flowers must be transported before and after the ceremony – that sort of thing.

She is also in the loop on essential matters of a more personal nature. Attendance on both the bride’s and groom’s sides will include parents, siblings, step parents, and step siblings. Who is going to sit next to whom at the rehearsal dinner and at the wedding? How can “A’s” longstanding grudge against “B” be best mitigated? What public gestures of inclusion and respect will be shown birth parents and step-parents, and in what order?

How can “C’s” inconvenient flight arrival time be best accommodated without altering the happy couple’s careful plans for their guests’ enjoyment? Will “D” be able to gracefully swallow the status afforded him for the festivities, one he has expressed is less than he deserves?

My sweetheart and I bat other topics around. What the heck were the husband-and-wife-to-be thinking when they formulated such complicated schemes the marriage venue, reception location, guest accommodations, and number of bird species to be released at the culmination of their “I do’s”? And why in heaven’s name didn’t someone stop them?

Then there are the complex emotions related to the presence of my darling’s former partners. How will she react to them, how will they deal with me, how will I cope with my reaction to them and with their reactions to me and with her reactions to all three of us?

As the big day gets closer, I silently repeat my hastily composed mantra: I am here only to love and support my sweetie, her son, and her son’s beloved. As such, I must stay grounded in and focused on what most matters – celebrating the happy occasion with those the bride and groom love.

This event is about only that, and not about anyone else’s tangled feelings, unmet expectations, dashed hopes or simmering regrets. There is bound to be a boatload of emotional baggage brought to this shindig, my own included. My task, then, is simply to be open to all that may happen and un-threatened by the messiness that is part and parcel of being together for this occasion.

If I can remember that everyone is broken in some fashion, that we are all carry a heavy burden, maybe I can pull it off. It will be messy and complicated, most likely, but that is the way human beings are.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com