DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding "Sad Mom in Michigan," who ignored her daughter's second thoughts about getting married and rushed her to the altar because the wedding was already paid for. Many pastors, myself included, can add her letter to our collection of wedding horror stories. Families often spend thousands of dollars to show off in a one-hour ceremony instead of investing time in talking to their kids about commitment. I have seen brides blackmailed into doing what the parents wanted because "we're paying for it."
A wedding should be an occasion of joy as a couple begins a new life together, not a nerve-wracking, bankrupting extravaganza that everyone would like to forget. Parents who want a circus shouldn't turn their kids into clowns in order to live out their own fantasies.
If a child expresses doubts before a wedding, that is the time to back up, take a breath and reconsider, no matter what has been paid. Divorce is more expensive than any wedding. -- PASTOR IN DALLAS
DEAR PASTOR: And in more ways than one. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: May I respond to "Sad Mom," who gave her 27-year-old daughter the wrong advice about going through with her marriage? As a pastor, I take marriage seriously. When a couple asks me to perform their ceremony, I make it clear I believe that marriage is for life.
Each time I meet with a couple, I ask if they still want to go through with the ceremony, and I tell them that if there is any doubt at all, we can "postpone" it. I would rather have them call it off now than one year, 10 years or even 50 years down the road.
I also inform the couple that on the day of the ceremony I will ask if they want to go through with it, and if for any reason they wish to call it off, it is perfectly OK. It is their future, not the future of their parents or friends.
God bless! -- TERRY JOHNSON, PASTOR, CALVARY CHAPEL, WESTWOOD, CALIF.
DEAR PASTOR JOHNSON: You are a wise pastor. Unless both parties are convinced beyond a doubt they're doing the right thing, they shouldn't do it. A 10-minute "mistake" can lead to a lifetime of misery. Do the math!