Now that my friend is married and has driven off into the sunset (or Oregon), I have slightly recovered from the whole bridesmaid experience and have had some time to reflect on marriage.
I didn't want to get married when I was little. I envisioned a life of work, a few girlfriends and dating. Perpetual dating -- with a new guy every few months. And then I got married when I just turned 22, go figure.
Marriage is one of those common words that we use for something so universally different. My marriage with my husband is completely different than it would be with anyone else. His marriage with me is different than it would be with anyone else. "Marriage" sounds like it's in this exclusive club, which it isn't. I think "marriage" can be synonymous for any long-term relationship.
I didn't have any words of advice for the bride. I've been married for 15 years, and I couldn't come up with anything. How can I give her words of advice when she's in a unique relationship? Although hers is more complicated because he has two children from a prior marriage. There are things she will have to navigate that are legitimately more difficult. I'm not sure she has really wrapped her head around the concept that she's a stepmother to these kids, and that will truly be a learning experience. Parenthood is complicated enough without being dropped in the middle of it when the kids are already in grade school.