The Country Cousin

Recently Gha, the nephew of my g-d daughter Sok Keang, was married in Phnom Penh. The wedding was sumptuous, lavish, and pricey. No less than eight dresses, including a white Western-style wedding gown, a red Chinese gown, and a traditional Khmer costume were worn by the bride. All the Cambodian muckety-mucks were there, from the country’s political elites down to the nouveau riche of Cambodian society. Unfortunately, poorer relatives were not invited.

In the countryside, the entire village was invited to a wedding a few years back, but less than two decades ago. The groom wore an ill-fitting Western suit, and the bride’s dress of handmade Khmer silk was probably woven in the village. I admit that I shot the photo of our country cousins a few years ago. The photos are a visual comparison of the divided societies around the globe. The two couples are just as married—and I wish them marital bliss.

Still, I can’t help wondering what the experts have to say about the relationship between the type of wedding and marital bliss, which is complicated. On one hand, contrary to the wedding industry’s claims, less costly marriages relate to longer and presumably happier marriages. On the other hand, more wedding guests correlates with more marital bliss. In the case of the country cousin, the entire village attended the inexpensive affair. (Of course, if the couple were impoverished, they could be miserable and unable to afford a divorce.) At the city extravaganza, there were many guests; however, few among them were close friends or family. Further complicating prognosis of bliss or at least longevity, the city couple enjoyed a high socio-economic status, another factor associated with long marriages.

I think that Renee Dennison, PhD, writing in Psychology Today, makes the best point.  I’m paraphrasing, but essentially she says that it’s not the size of the wedding or the cost of the table decorations that will determine marital success, but the extent to which the couple sees themselves and their vision for the future in the event itself.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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