Men and women bond differently. Males stare at the same football game on TV. Women talk. When someone in our gender decides to get married, we like to gather, gab, eat goodies and give each other presents. It’s called a bridal shower. Bridal showers don’t have anything do with bathing like my young son asked. Bridal showers are parties we women give each other to celebrate our decision to join our lives with a man. Our sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, or friend is about to become someone’s wife and create a brand new family. So we set aside a Saturday afternoon to honor her choice and wish her well on her new journey.
Bridal showers used to bug me. I got tired of all the silly games such as contests to see who could make the most beautiful toilet paper wedding dress or pin-the-lips on the groom. I thought they seemed silly and trivial. These days I actually look forward to the bridal showers I’m invited to. These days I see the multi-generational bonding of women to honor our newest bride as an important feminine cultural rite of passage.
Every woman who attends a bridal shower is at a different place on her life’s journey. The oldest woman present is usually a widow longing for the touch of her husband’s hand. The retired woman is wondering what to do with a spouse who is suddenly under foot and home all the time. The middle-aged woman is trying to find a rare quiet evening to spend alone with her husband without the children. The newlywed has most likely faced her first reality check with her knight in shining armor. The single woman wonders if the opportunity to marry will ever come. Every age and circumstance has its own set of challenges and joys. Yet when we join together to wish our daughter, sister, niece or friend well as she begins her new journey, there is power in the room – the power of united women to bless our newest bride with tender words of advice offered with gentleness and love.
After all the games are over, refreshments served and presents opened there are usually a few quiet moments when the women in the room contemplate their own marriages, widowhood or singleness. The woman in charge often asks each guest to give the soon-to-be bride marital advice.
A hush comes over the room as each woman becomes contemplative. Then the words come - words like:
“When my husband and I ran into a rocky patch in our marriage I tried to change him. It didn’t work. I finally figured out that you can’t change anybody but yourself. I changed me. That has made all the difference.”
“I have learned that love is a choice not a feeling; you make a choice to love.”
“Love is a verb - what you do, not how you feel.”
“If you love your husband exactly as he is, then he becomes all you’ve ever dreamed of.”
When the words stop and everybody goes home, there is a feeling of hopefulness that we each take away. We know we will gather again when another of our own chooses to become a bride. Even as we slowly step toward death, we know some new bride will be stepping into marriage. The circle of life will begin all over again - all because one woman and one man choose to love each other.