The Best Wedding Gift Ever???

I'm really close to my family. I've lived my entire life knowing that if I call, my parents and siblings will come running. My mom is one of those June Cleaver types. She always gave everything she had to me and my siblings, never asking for herself. My dad was always a quiet pillar of strength. He didn't express his affection as openly as we always wanted, but we never doubted we were loved. We could say anything, be anything in my family and always find love and acceptance. There wasn't a single graduation, promotion, or life event where we had to go it alone. My family is my rock and my greatest blessing.

My husband wasn't so lucky growing up. His mother is an alcoholic, his father a workaholic. Neither one was there for him. His siblings spent their time just trying to make their own way. He was raised by the Army and taught to rely on his own strength. He never had anyone there for him when he graduated school and college. He didn't have a single person there to support him during any promotion or when he returned from war.

A lifetime of disappointment caused him to learn to shut people out as a defense mechanism, but he never stopped hoping for the acceptance and support that I have readily available. It has been a bone of contention our entire relationship. He is jealous of the relationship I have with my family, doesn't understand why I still turn to them when I need help. He is appreciative when my family shows up in support of his accomplishments, but still can't seem to accept their support and love for himself.

For four years, we struggled with this and many other things. His history with family was not a positive one and it created quite a hurdle for us. So it was with great surprise that I found myself planning our wedding. Four years, we danced around the subject of marriage. Four years, we argued about family and what it meant. And with less than a month to plan, he finally took the plunge.

It didn't surprise me when he didn't inform his family of our impending nuptials, nor shock me when he insisted that my family be part of it. But I was not content to leave things as they were. I had spent a bit of time with my husband's family in the four years we had been together, and while I know that his past was a lonely one, I realized that his family had changed over the years. His father, so distant in his youth, was now trying to reach out to his son. He was proud of the man my husband became, honored by my husband's service, and unsure how to bridge the gap between them. He was waiting for my husband to reach out to him so he could show his support, but my husband remained unaware of this and assumed his father would not find his fourth marriage a priority.

I knew that if things were to change, I would have to take matters into my own hands. I called my future father-in-law and informed him that his son and I were getting married. I made secret plans with him for him to travel across the country and surprise my husband on our big day. I helped him book a hotel room near a restaurant where we would meet, coordinated times and destinations, all while silently listening to my husband mourn his lack of support. Even the day before his father arrived, my husband and I had an argument about this. He kept telling me how envious he was that I had a family that would be there for me, how I was so obliviously lucky to have people to turn to if things went wrong. And while I wanted to scream how he could have these things too if he just let people in, how his father was right then packing his bags to travel across the United States to support and celebrate his son, I kept quiet. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Our wedding was to be on Christmas Day. It was the only day our pastor had available and one of the reasons my husband didn't expect any of his family to show up. My family decided to celebrate Christmas a day early because of this, so Christmas Eve was spent at my sister's house with all of my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my cousins and aunts and uncles. My husband, as always, was present but distant. I was quietly nervous and excited.

It was the day that my husband's father was scheduled to arrive and the plan was for me and my husband to take my parents out to dinner after the Christmas celebrating was over. The secret plan was for my husband's father to show up at the restaurant, but his plane was delayed. I nervously tried to stall the dinner while keeping the motives secret. I made stupid excuses to make calls in private and to keep my husband from leaving for home too soon. I knew my behavior was odd to him, but I prayed he wouldn't catch on.

Finally, my husband's father was close enough, so I hurriedly pushed my husband and my parents out the door. I almost died when we were asked at the restaurant how many was in our party and my husband claimed four. I couldn't exactly demand an extra seat, so I asked the server to seat us at a large booth and told my husband that my parents needed the extra room. I was slowly coming unglued, unable to stay still from nervous excitement.

The main course arrived before my father-in-law, but I will never forget the look on my husband's face. He had a bite of food half way to his mouth when he looked up and saw his dad. He did a double take and dropped his fork with an astonished look before claiming, "Oh ****! That's my dad!" It was so beautiful that I almost cried.

All the stress of making that moment happen was well worth it, for so many reasons. I finally got to prove to my husband that the love and support he desired was there for him if he just took the chance. He got to see that he is a priority for his family and that they would make sacrifices to be there for him. It was the best gift I could think to give my husband who loved and supported me.

Our Christmas wedding was simple and beautiful. Neither one of us had many guests. We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. My father walked me down the isle. My mother and my husband's father sat in the pew. My sister stood in the back and filmed and took pictures. A few members of our church stayed past the Christmas service to witness an event four years in the making.

We had no reception, no honeymoon, no gifts, and no flowers, but it was the most beautifully incredible day of my life. We had everything we needed, each other and the gift of love and support and the added surprise of healing. It was perfect.
AvidDreamer AvidDreamer
31-35, F
May 16, 2012