Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 9.23

I’m going to a wedding in a few weeks, and I’ve been asked to make a toast.  I’ve been thinking hard about what to say, especially since it’s not my big day, but I want to be sincere nonetheless.  So far, I’ve got nothing, since I’m not much one for telling people how their relationships should work.

What advice would you give to a newly married couple?  (This can be in the context of a toast, or just in general.)

a.real.girl

A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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79 Comments

  1. “[4 or five introductory sentences about the couple and why they are special to you or just in general] ______, ______, may you never lose the love and the joy that brought you here today.”

    Makes the bride cry. Gets the toast done in under two minutes. People don’t need advice in a wedding toast, they need benediction.

  2. Talk. Talk talk talk talk. About everything. It’s cliche but communication really is the basis of a healthy relationship.

    Say thank you, a lot. Don’t take each other for granted.

    Say you’re sorry, a lot.

    And have a lot of nookie. That part is very important.

  3. As seth said, you don’t need to give any advice. A toast is basically just a well-wish.

    And off topic, if I had an afternoon inquisition, I would simply ask , “Why, other than for religious reasons, do people get married? My gf and I have been living together for 14 years and have never come up with a good reason to marry.

  4. I heard this great wedding speech. It came from the father of the groom.

    “Before we got married, we made an agreement on how we would handle conflict. It’s simple. She would make all of the small decisions, and I would make all the big ones. Well the plan has worked out very well. In all our 40 years of marriage, we didn’t have any big decisions”

  5. @Amanda: I must second the romanticism bit. I’m a romantic at heart myself…

    I just wish we did marriage the Celtic way, where there’s no stigma associated with walking away at a later time if it doesn’t work out. Would make a lot of the messes associated with divorce go away, and most of the rest a lot more bearable.

  6. @Briarking: a good reason to marry.

    —————-

    To have kids. Its just easier to deal with the paperwork when you’re married. To buy a house. It’s just easier to deal with the paperwork when you’re married. Because otherwise, a couple can’t rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Alabama–unless you’re gay.

  7. Oooo…. admittedly I’ve brutally and cold bloodedly murdered many great relationships so maybe my advice would not be the greatest? However, every man in every successful relationship that I have ever encountered had one bit of advice for me that seems to be echoed already and that is that “HE IS ALWAYS WRONG”. Even when he is right. It may not keep a bad relationship from going down in flames, but it could definitely keep a good relationship from going bad! Yes, us skepdudes must deviate from our usual norm of adhering to logic at all times on this one. It hurts, bad, but only at first and only for a little while. Kind of like ripping off a band-aid. Oh, and I probably wouldn’t bring up the recent “monogomy gene study” or mention why pair bonding is not necessarily maximizing evolutionary fitness for men. Or the divorce rate. Ugh- no wonder I’m single hotphysicsboy lol

  8. listen to an old married guy (33 years this year):
    In the wedding vows, each promises to love the other. You’re not promising to *be in love*. Love in this case is an active, transient verb. So, work at it. If you slip up, and wake up one day not in love, go get it back … you promised!

  9. (Credentials: my 14th anniversary is this coming January.)

    Balance. A good marriage is all about proper balance.

    Celebrate what you have in common, but be sure you have your own interests, and be absolutely sure to respect your partner’s. Get comfortable around your partner, but don’t take them for granted. Find your own space, but always keep it open to your partner. Don’t be afraid to be angry at your partner–that’s natural; just be sure to respect their anger, too. Apologize when you’re wrong, (and sometimes when you’re not), be patient when you’re right. Always assume you are on the same side. If your partner is late, or forgets something, or does something you don’t appreciate, don’t make it about your relationship: ask what else it could mean. Let your partner have time with their friends, and be sure to take time with yours. Get a pet that you both want (!!!): he or she will bring you together. When and if you have kids, lead by example: don’t question your partner’s techniques (within reason). It’s okay to be different kinds of parents. And speaking of parents, respect theirs, with the possible exception of the occasional “yo mamma” joke. And, most importantly, struggle to always be one another’s best friend… because, in the end, that’s what keeps couples together.

    Money will be the single most contentious issue between you. Recognize and plan for that fact. If it’s at all within the realm of possibility, budget.

    And for the love of all that is sacred, leave the toilet seat down.

    …All that said, I’ve gotta agree with Seth: they don’t really want advice, they want to feel good about their decision. : )

  10. @Briarking: …a good reason to marry.

    Lets not forget the whole estate and control of property issue when one partner dies. Much simpler if you’re married. And also, even if you have children and only live together, unless there is a legal parenting plan most states will consider the mother the presumptive custodial parent.

  11. Have to agree with Seth… advice shouldn’t really be part of it… people want to hear nice things (maybe a “aren’t they perfect for each other” anecdote) and then get to the drinking, toasting, eating, dancing, etc.

    Keep It Simple, people will appreciate it.

    As for why to get married…. As also already stated, the paperwork aspects and the social stigma/making life easier are worth it… IF they are worth it to you.

    If not… then by all means, don’t marry.

    (I am divorced, happy, and seeing someone awesome…. He is actually how/why I found this blog, so up that to “totally awesome”)

  12. On the subject of marriage, I, too, advise that you not give advice. Better off to give them something they’ll remember and laugh about later, so maybe just drink up, grab the mic, and speak from the heart. Personal anecdotes beat generic sayings, always.

    Credentials: I’ve performed two marriages and though am not married myself, I have had a very intense Facebook relationship with Elyse for the past several months and nearly got married once or twice.

    @emcgillivray: Oh, that’s a good one! Speaking of . . . FLYING PIZZA KITTY! http://media.tumblr.com/RDuszSV7Qe870q8lxlm7eohBo1_400.gif

  13. If you’ve ever watched House (and if you haven’t, shame on you), you’ll know the theme-song.

    That song is actually a full-fledged track called “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. It has lyrics. Those lyrics are, well, awesome… if a bit vague. But I think, given an intellectual crowd, they would make a superb wedding toast:

    Love, love is a verb
    Love is a doing word
    Fearless on my breath
    Gentle impulsion
    Shakes me makes me lighter
    Fearless on my breath

    Or, you could just go with Scott Adam’s favorite quote: “we get married in order to have a witness to our lives”.

    : )

  14. @TheSkepticalMale: I respectfully disagree. Intense relationships with married women are often fun, fulfilling, and have an overall positive effect on my life.

    Also, I wasn’t sure officiating marriages counted as a credential in the field… I mean, celibate priests have been doing it for ages.

  15. @TheSkepticalMale:

    My facebook relationship with Rebecca was complicated. Now we have an arrangement we are both happy with. Besides, my husband isn’t on Facebook and I need someone to fulfill my needs.

    Also, skeptic does not equal cynic. You should know that by now! :)

    @a.real.girl

    There are three things that I think everyone should say to their S.O. at least once a day:

    1. I love you
    2. I’m sorry
    3. How was your day?

  16. credentials: I’m a demon in the sack.

    advice: Marriage is a tool of the patriarchy to reinforce the paradigm of male privilege. Its totally bad energy.
    I just want to stroke your hair and tell you you’re pretty.

  17. @QuestionAuthority:

    Sorry, I have to disagree with the ‘don’t go to bed angry’ advice. I’ve heard it many times. When I am tired, I get cranky and stupid. I can’t think straight so if I try to express what’s going on, I usually end up reacting overemotionally, bursting into tears or just not expressing myself well. I find it MUCH wiser to get a good night’s sleep and usually, in the morning, whatever was bothering me is a lot less of a big deal and I can have a much more normal conversation. Of course, that assumes you can fall asleep angry. Since I can sleep through pretty much anything, it’s not an issue for me :)

    The only advice I can give is laugh. If you can make each other laugh, you’re OK.

    As for why to get married? I did it for the greencard, duh! :)

  18. @ “And, most importantly, struggle to always be one another’s best friend…”

    ugh. This is the number one cause of dysfunctional relationships. People confuse their lover for their best friend. The two things rarely go hand in hand in my experience (and hey if your lover really is your best friend then way to go!).

    The media sells us this concept of “soul mates” that’s a complete lie.
    It doesn’t even make sense if you think about it. You want to share all your deepest secrets with your lover? Really? Why? If not for the media constantly selling this idea to me such a notion would’ve never even occurred to me.
    Please, leave your life’s sob story out of the bedroom.

  19. Credentials: single, but I was a best man once.

    I didn’t dispense any advice in my toast. All I did was basically tell some old stories, pay the bride and groom all sorts of compliments (heartfelt, honest ones, not sappy feel-goodery), and lead the group in wishing the couple good luck, good health, etc.

    I guess my goal was not to put on a comedy show or dispense advice, but to make the couple feel good and facilitate a show of support and love and general warm’n’fuzzies by all in attendance.

    I think that’s the point of a toast; even the word “cheers” seems to me like a way of saying “I wish you the best”. So, IMHO, it should be about well-wishes more than advice.

  20. @Rebecca: Better off to give them something they’ll remember and laugh about later, so maybe just drink up, grab the mic, and speak from the heart.

    ————–

    Always my approach, but I can speak for three minutes on any subject from any starting point and wrap it up with a good close 9 times out of 10. If that isn’t your superpower, I recommend at least having an idea of how long you’re going to run with what you think you might want to say.

    Some rules:
    1. a toast is about the toastee.
    2. a toast should be short.
    3. a wedding toast is not a roast.

  21. The One True Rule: you should each have your own money.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a large pool of shared money. It does mean you should each have some money you can spend however you wish.

    Arguments are a part of any marriage, and arguments over money are particularly nasty. Both my partner and I have expensive hobbies (her: making jewelry; me: all things tech), so having a “slush fund” for each of us means that I’m never angry about her “spending too much” on beads, and she’s never angry about me “spending too much”
    on technical crap.

    It also means that I can buy extravagant gifts for her, and (a) I will have actually had to *save up*, (b) she’ll never know how much it cost, and (c) she’ll never have to feel guilty about me “spending too much” on her.

  22. @sethmanapio

    good point, that’s for sure. your logic is going wrong where you assume I’m getting action, though… and apparently it IS slightly socially awkward to talk about the factorial combinations possible with the letters of the name of the drink of said female is consuming. or computing the day of the week they were born by knowing their birthday. or challenging them to come up with a 4 digit number that you can’t square mentally. sheesh. women. i’ll never get it.

  23. @TheSkepticalMale:

    No, read the Tao. I’ll give you the nutshell report minus the hocus pocus.
    The desires of the flesh should be approached straight forwardly. Don’t fight them but don’t dwell on them either. Let desire pass through your mind as a membrane, leaving no mark.
    When we internalize our desires they eat away at us. Keep them external. When you find yourself thinking about them, stop think about them. Avoid things that cause you guilt and shame but when you do act on them do so without guilt or shame.

  24. @Elyse : I agree that you should say “I love you” every day — and mean it.

    I disagree that “how was your day” is appropriate in every case (e.g. if you spend the whole day together… which should occasionally happen). Still, showing a real interest is good.

    I entirely disagree that “I’m sorry” should be said every day. Yeah, if you do something to really piss off your partner, you should apologize ASAP (and make it right, don’t forget that bit).

    All too often, though, I hear one partner apologizing for simply being themselves, or for having their peculiar quirks, etc. It’s demeaning to both parties. Apologies for actual wrongs are essential: apologies for anything else are bullshit.

    (oddly, it’s harder for me to stop apologizing for that crap that it was for me to get my partner to stop. That may be because she’s much smarter than me…)

  25. a.real.girl “I still remember when I met the bride. All those years of lesbian experimentation still make me smile. And don’t get me started on the groom. He was so piss poor in bed when we hooked up last night. You have to remember it isn’t supposed to be a sprint. Well good luck to the both of you. Now drink up.”

  26. My credentials: I’ve officiated at 6 weddings. I’ve been married over 10 years.

    The only advice worth remembering from when I was engaged was from a crabby old guy who was a regular at the bar where I tended.

    He said, “people say marriage is 50/50, which is BS. It’s always 100/100.” He also said he’d sleep with me before I got married so I would know what a bitter old married man was like in the sack…

    The first part was helpful anyway.

    Also, please to continue the sassy derailing of this thread. So entertaining.

  27. At my sister’s wedding, my brother-in-law’s best man (who was also his brother) told amusing anecdotes and ended by stating how lucky my sister was for snagging my b-in-law. My cousin who was my sister’s made of honor, realizing she couldn’t upstage the brother, decided to keep her toast short and amusing, and just winged it. I think the best toasts are the ones that are light and amusing and heartfelt, at least those are the ones I enjoy listening to.

    My Credentials, I’ve got none, but I figured I’d throw in my two pence anyhow.

  28. @Darren:

    I don’t mean arbitrary “I’m sorry for something I probably did.” or to schedule a time each day to say it. Passive-aggression is not healthy. I mean that you’re probably going to do something every day that deserves an apology, even unintentionally, even if it’s not a big deal, and you should say sorry, and be sorry.

    Him: Did you do the dishes?
    Me: No, and I’m sorry. I’ll get to them in a few minutes.

    Me: Did you brush the baby’s teeth?
    Him: No, I forgot. I’m sorry

    You’ll step on each others’ toes. It’s going to happen, every day. When it happens, just say sorry and be done with it.

    As for “how was your day?” Even if I’ve spent the whole day with my husband, I still ask. Maybe there was something that I missed. Maybe I have a different take on it. I don’t always use that exact phrase, but I still want to know.

  29. Here ya go;

    Rub a dub dub
    Go hump in a tub
    Yay Marriage!

    I modified my family’s favorite dinner prayer for this purpose:

    Rub a dub dub
    Let’s eat the grub
    Yay God!

    or another one;

    Good bread, good meat,
    Good God
    Lets Eat!

    or;

    Pray the Lord, the Holy Ghost,
    The one who eats the fastest, gets the most!
    Yay God!

    Sorry but I came from a pretty irreverant crowd :)

  30. You could also sing the bride and groom a merry tune:

    When I come back from mighty quest
    I have no need for sleep or rest
    I head for the tavern for a drink
    and get so drunk I cannot think
    A wench by my side and a jug of meade
    These are the things that I most need
    So I sit back and sing this song
    And drink and party all night long

    Hey! Hey! I want more wenches
    Hey! Hey! More wenches and meade
    Hey! Hey! I want more wenches
    Lots of wenches is what I need

    -Alestorm Wenches and Meade

    Or:

    Have you ever been to American Wedding?
    Where’s the vodka
    Where’s marinated herring
    Where are the musicians that got the taste
    Where is the supply that’s gonna last three days
    Where’s the band that like Fanfare
    Gonna keep it going 24 hours

    [Ba ba ba ba da ba da]

    [Taa Taran Taranta Ta Taa] x4

    Instead, it’s one in the morning and DJ’s patching up the cords
    Everybody’s full of cake, staring at the floor
    Proper couples start to mumble that it’s time to go
    People gotta get up early, yep they gotta go.

    [Taa Taran Taranta Ta Taa] x4

    Yeah, people gotta get up early and she’s got a boyfriend,
    And this whole fucking thing is one huge dissapointment.

    And nothing gets these bitches going, not even Gipsy Kings
    Nobody talks about my supertheory or supereverything.

    So be you Donald Trump, or be an anarchist…
    Make sure that your wedding doesn’t end up like this.

    [Doo do do do da da da.. mmmmm do do do do]

    I understand the cultures of a different kind
    But here word “celebration” just doesn’t come to mind!!!

    [Taa Taran Taranta Ta Taa] x4

    Have you ever been to American Wedding?
    Where is the vodka? Where is marinated herring?
    Where’s the musicians that got the taste?
    Where is the supply that’s gonna last three days?
    Where’s the band that like Fanfare?
    Gonna keep it going for 24 hours!!!

    [Ba ba ba ba ba ba]

    [Taa Taran Taranta Ta Taa] x4

    [Super Taa Super Tarantara]

    Gogol Bordellos American Wedding

  31. I have only attended one wedding…and I am currently single, although I was in 2 (countem’ – 2) four year relationships. I honestly thought I was going to get married to latter of the two. He was in the process of looking for an engagement ring.

    …oh yeah, and I just turned 21.

    I’m not sure how much advice the couple will want on their wedding day. To me, something heartfelt and light is always a good thing for the day, and then advice can come after the drunken honeymoon.

    It would make me nervous to talk at a wedding anyways…no matter what I said. The only wedding I went to was of a high school friend, and she was 19. They have been together for 3 years now, and I can still remember the toasts that her sister and his brother gave. There was lots of crying, and welcoming of new people into lives, and how it is so special to find something you want to spend the rest of your life with.

  32. @JRice
    ? i guess you are uncomfortable with the male body? maybe some underlying issues there i more likely than not can’t help you with… didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, to be sure…

    @Rebecca
    That’s it! I’m starting a fundraiser. Well, after I go out and spend a ton of money stocking up on booze. Then after that let the fundraising begin.

  33. @a.real.girl

    Thank you!! I’m all over it!!! Now i just need to find someone with a good camera so I can get my sexy skepticguy on!

    @Elyse

    Ugh I really want to! I used to live in Chicago for a couple years and I miss it so dearly :( I really want to go there soon so maybe I will be taking you up on that before you know it! Oh, and just tell a.real.girl to fwd you on the skepdude calendar pics. i will try to come up with something earthshatteringly nerdy and skeptically relevant but still mucho caliente lol

  34. @Amanda: “Been together 8 years (on next Wednesday, my b-day!) but we’re not married yet. We’re getting around to it.” Good for you two! You should know by now if you’re compatible for the long haul.

    @rystefen: I agree that the Celts had something there. I think our current adversarial divorce system is definitely to blame for a lot of trouble in our country. I don’t necessarily think it should be too easy to divorce, but it shouldn’t be punitive, either.

    @masala-skeptic: I’m sure there are others like you that my advice won’t work for. It does work for many, though. No “one size fits all” for marriage advice – too many different personalities involved. But, in general, it’s good advice. :-)

    Definitely be each other’s best friend – but don’t be upset if your spouse has other platonic good friends of the opposite gender at work. Being married doesn’t mean that each partner has to write off the other gender as friends.

    There are times that I miss Chicagoland. We left because the cost of living was just too high for us.

  35. @Rystefn

    lol! kindred spirits, are we? i’m thinking of investigating renting a good camera. i’ll let you know what I come up with. i think i’m just going to start sending skepchicks sexy pictures of myself anyways even if they’re not in the right format or whatever. sure beats actually working lol

  36. You could ask them if they’ve got any regrets about getting married so far and then wish them more of the same throughout their marriage. This does have the potential to backfire horribly though. ;)

    Briarking, I have two years on you and I still haven’t heard a compelling reason for marriage. Insurance and civil rights are a “nice to have” but I’ve not had to call on them in 16 years and would just lie if I had to. Romance doesn’t need a marriage licence either.

  37. @JRice:

    *Sigh*, no it’s not “smarter than I” unless I really want to sound British.

    First, if you’re going to use formal style, it’s “you and I should go to the store, because you’re much more zealous than I am, and smarter than me anyhow”. You’re “older than me” or “younger than me” as well.

    Second, proscriptive use is idiotic. Language evolves — and that so rapidly — that the only valid criticisms of usage are:

    1. Meaning is unclear
    2. The usage is non-standard (only applies in formal registers)
    3. You haven’t followed an agreed-upon style guide (only applies in contexts like professional and student writing).

  38. @Elyse:

    And those kinds of “step on your toes” things are exactly the kinds of things I don’t think people should need to apologize for.

    I’ve been with my partner for 9.5 years, and we’ve been married for 4 of those. I still hate it when I ask “did you get to the store today?” and she says “oh, I’m sorry: no.”

    I’m not accusing, I’m asking for an update. She has no reason to apologize: she didn’t “let me down”, she didn’t hurt me. “No, I forgot.” is more than adequate.

    Now, if I responded: “I really needed you to go, I thought I was clear about that.” Then, I’d expect “I’m sorry, why don’t we go after dinner” (or some such). Either that or, “you were not fscking clear about that”, followed by me saying “ok, my bad then: I’ll go after dinner.” :)

    My reasoning is thus:

    First, constant “I’m sorry” cheapens the words. “I’m sorry” should be a heartfelt expression of regret, not merely a social lubricant.

    Second, it cheapens the person apologizing. To apologize when you’ve done no harm places you in a subservient role — and that’s bullshit. My partner is subservient to no one, least of all to me.

  39. Darren\JRice, the “smarter than I” idea is a faux Britishism and not how language is really used over here on this side of the pond. People occasionally use it to sound in a higher social class than they are, ignorant of the lack of usage by the class they are aspiring to. Either use may be acceptible in America, you have your own rules as language has shifted. Just as language development should.

  40. TheSkepticalMale writes: Skeptics are not supposed to be romantics! Where’s the unapologetic cynicism?

    Classic poetry is always a good choice for a wedding toast. I recommend Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse“:

    Man hands on misery to man,
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

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