What Have I Become?

By: Heather Somaini


We went to a wedding this weekend.  It was a couple hours north of Los Angeles in central California’s wine country.  It’s quaint.  It has a Danish village – Solvang.  I always think Solvang is German and we’re going to get great Bratwurst and Schnitzel there but it’s not.  It’s Danish.  There are windmills.

I’ve decided that I’m jaded and grumpy.  The wedding was gorgeous in a field right next to a vineyard.  The groom was handsome and a little nervous.  The bride was beautiful and radiant.  The families were so proud and beaming.  The flower girls and ring bearer were ridiculously cute.  The view was perfect.  Every detail had been considered and the guests were well taken care of.

But as they recited their personally crafted vows, I turned into a cynic.  I started pooh-poohing their idealistic ideas and the lofty goals for their marriage.  I turned to Tere and said “Wait ten years and throw in two kids and let’s see if they still feel the same way.”  I whispered crack after crack to her throughout their vows.  Tere, of course, cried through the whole thing and kept smacking me to be quiet.  To her, they were beautiful and in love and perfect.  To me, they were on a downhill track and would never be able to recreate or maintain what they have right now.

I should tell you that we’ve had a rash of divorces happening around us.  We’re sort of confused by it.  Everyone always has a couple of friends who are serial monogamists and we’re no exception.  But these break-ups are 25-year marriages, 10-year marriages, straight and gay and all with kids.  It’s been challenging to say the least.  We keep discussing “why” or “why didn’t they” or “who is to blame”.  My favorite these days is “well I’d respect him more if he had done this or that.”  There really isn’t any sense you can make of it so I don’t know why we try.  People grow apart; they get distracted and take each other for granted.  They stop working at their relationship.  It just is.  No one tells you that your wedding is the high point.  That this marriage thing just gets harder and harder.  No one tells you that kids make it super difficult and magnify the differences between you and your spouse.

I felt terrible by the time we reached the reception.  What have I become?  A cranky, cynical married parent of two.  Wow, just what I want to invite over for dinner!  I knew I had to snap out of it somehow.  I had to do something.  If I didn’t, I could stay this way.  Tere would be married to an ogre forever!  I wanted to show Tere that I could still be that person she married; I could still surprise her with something simple and unexpected.

I decided to ask her to dance.  Two perfectly great songs went by.  I did nothing.  Why?  Because there was no one else dancing.  The crowd was fairly conservative and I was a little nervous that every eye would be on us.  When a third great song came on, I threw caution to the wind and grabbed Tere’s hand.  I’m sure there were a few funny looks and questions were definitely asked.  But I held her under the stars and for a moment, Tere remembered who I was and who she hoped I could still be.

By the end of the evening, I realized that we had spent all of our time with three couples in very different stages.  One 30+ year marriage with grown kids, one 10-year marriage trying for baby number two and a set of divorcees who found each other after long marriages that fell apart.  Every single one of them has struggled and sacrificed but they’re still here, making their way.

This thing we call life isn’t perfect but it’s ours.



  1. says

    A dance will do it you snarky, married woman. We all go through these phases. Some make it, others don’t. I am banking on you and Tere. You are a great balance of the yin and yang.

  2. Adrianna says

    Great piece Heather.
    It’s true. We all get cynical and cranky.
    The thing is relationships — like everything else–is work and work wears on us even when it’s “fun work.” I hate to sound like an 80 yr old grandma but people today (myself included) aren’t really built for work. We’re used to instant gratification with little effort and lot’s of bells and whistles to reward us for our efforts. Love is only like that for a moment, then it’s quiet, comforting and often boring. The key, I think (who knows where I’ll end up) is to learn to enjoy that less glamorous side of love and to make that extra effort–as you did–to try and recapture what we can. Nice work!

  3. Lesley says

    Terribly depressing, but painfully true. One’s wedding day is held with ideals, fantasies and ignorant unrealistic expectations. Like having a child, it is something that the cannot be fully understood until it is personally experienced. I must say I find it comforting that someone else, (Heather) feels similar to my viewpoint. Not what can we do to try to make it better, anything?

  4. Tere says

    For the record, Heather asking me to dance at that moment is one of my favorite moments in the history of us. The song was “It’s Your Love” Time McGraw/Faith Hill. It was an unexpected gift at an unexpected time – like the Heather I married.

  5. colleen says

    Heather you write so beautfully ….you said it all so well….marriage is work…and you do grow and change..then you have to work at it again…. cranky in a marriage is every persons’ middle name, you have to make that extra effort to make it better. I just wish mine danced!

  6. says

    @Tere. so happy this was the Heather you knew. She is there just sometimes crankier than others. But always there.

  7. Diana says

    I am probably one of the most cynical persons on Earth, but when it comes to myself and my 9-year relationship I can be the most positive and sappy too. I really wonder how kids will change us and I can’t help but think that it will be even more blissful than it is now. But if we argue over the cats, how will we be able to get along when we have a kid or two? I just hope we will always find a way to laugh at ourselves and just be a silly affectionate happy family. I tell myself that as long as the parents are in love and happy about their lives, kids can only add to that happiness. I said I was sappy!

  8. Diana says

    Oh, and a little trick I use when I feel detached and distant… I try to imagine how my life would be if something happened to my better half (touch wood here!!), or if she decided to leave me. Then I am instantly ready to behave and be less cranky and judgmental, at least for a while!

  9. Tanya Dodd-Hise says

    Glad to know that I’m not the only one who has moments of cynicism, too! While we were at Disney last week, we kept seeing young newlyweds in their special bride and groom mouse ears. Part of me went “awwww look, young love.” But the other part of me went “awwww I wonder how long before they will be divorced.” It was disgustingly sad that I think that way now. I don’t ever think that way about us – it’s just not there, not in my thinking in regards to THIS marriage (like it always was in the past). But sad to me that I look at young couples and wonder how long it will last.

    But I’m with you – a dance can sometimes sweep out all of the cynicism and bring back all the mushy, lovey feelings that we need to remind ourselves of! Glad that you got your dance girls!

  10. says

    You continue to surpise me, just like your grandmother. I was 30 when I realized she was a very smart and talented woman. Kind of slow I know. Your mom and I have had a whole bunch of good times, and some not so hot times, as you well know. But we still love each other and have been together for over 48 years. If we can find love in our realtionship every day, thats a very good thing.

    Love you and tere,


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