Wedding Cake for Breakfast
I have read this book three times now, and responded emotionally to different parts every single time. Wedding Cake for Breakfast is a collection of essays from both obscure and well-known writers about the first year of marriage. While that may sound like a very specific topic, the stories are as diverse as the marriages they represent; everything from unexpected May-December flings to green card marriages to third marriages overshadowed by the death of a previous spouse.
The first time I read this book, I badly wanted to be married. I spent a lot of time in my therapist’s office trying to figure out why my then-boyfriend hadn’t proposed. Unbeknownst to me, he was (in his wonderfully methodical way) already planning the proposal it would take him a year to fully execute.
I wanted to be married, I expected to be married, and I read this book as a primer. What could I expect once the wedding was over? What did people regret about their weddings? Did the relationships completely change? My main takeaways were that 1) people were more likely to regret big, fussy weddings than tiny ones and 2) marriage was awesome. I read it on my Kindle so no one could see what I was reading and feel sorry for the girl whose boyfriend wouldn’t propose.
The second time I read it, I was deep into my first year of marriage. Happy ending! But frankly, I was frustrated. I loved my husband — love was never an issue. But I secretly had hoped getting married would fix everything that was difficult in our relationship. We’d communicate better; we’d create some sort of chore system that would leave our house sparkling clean with little effort; the dog would suddenly become perfectly behaved, even.
Of course, none of this happened. We were married — why wasn’t everything perfect?
Because, as so many women beautifully point out in their essays, people aren’t perfect, and marriage is not a panacea. Your husband is not suddenly going to decide to stop leaving piles of laundry on the floor; in fact, he may leave more piles, since the odds of you getting so mad over them that you leave him have significantly decreased. And, it seems, no one has a perfect marriage. Those who come closest are the ones who unclench, let go, accept their spouses for who they are and recognize that, no matter what, they should be on the same team.
The last time I read it, we had just celebrated our first anniversary. It was a freaking year. We got married, we both changed jobs, we bought a house and went through a hideous mortgage process. The only things that didn’t happen to us were a cross-country move and pregnancy. (And death and/or serious illness, thank goodness.) Sometimes I wish we’d just been able to breathe, to relax for a little while and just be with each other, getting used to being married.
And then I re-read this book, and I was immediately filled with immense gratitude. The women in this book have survived amazing things during their first year of marriage — September 11, unemployment, pregnancy, enlistment in the Army and a husband’s deployment to Iraq. One couple had a horrendous bout of the stomach flu combined with pregnancy and possibly the most disgusting hotel room ever…on their wedding night.
My husband and I, with our quintessential First World Problems, needed to be grateful for what we had. And I was so happy to be reminded of that.
No matter where you are in your marriage — or if you’re still single, even — this is definitely a lovely, well-thought-out book of essays that anyone could enjoy.