It was great to see Adam Sandler return to Saturday Night Live recently. I loved him on the show when he was a cast member, and he still has his sketch comedy chops honed. But one sketch stood out to me as a wedding officiant. It was the one called “Romano Tours” about a tour company who specialized in trips to Italy. You can watch the sketch in its entirety here:
The sketch took a turn towards dark, hard truth when, after advertising what’s great about his tour company, Sandler looks into the camera and says, “…we always remind our customers: If you’re sad now, you might still feel sad there, okay?” He continues to talk about some of the features of the tour and then once again reminds the viewing audience, “Remember: You’re still going to be you on vacation.”
Many couples think that many of the problems they are experiencing within their relationship, there exists a magic bullet that will fix everything flawed. In the case of this SNL sketch, Sandler’s Italy trip offering has been seen as the cure-all and Sandler has to be extremely clear to couples that an enjoyable and romantic trip is only enjoyable and romantic if you as a couple are joy-filled and romantically inclined! He can provide the setting, but can’t make the magic happen.
This is also true of getting married. Many couples think that the medicine their relationship needs is a wedding, and everything will be right in the world. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A relationship is a dynamic entity: Since humans continue to grow and learn as individuals, so to do they grow and learn as a couple. The ways in which we relate to one another will change over time, and the couples that have the greatest longevity are the ones that have learned that they need to constantly work on things like communication, conflict resolution, and themselves as individuals in order to be healthy, happy, and satisfied.
What Sandler is describing is “idyllic distortion.” Just like the couple that goes on vacation expecting a miracle to happen and the romance to flow, there are couples that think, “Once we’re married, our relationship will be perfect.” And just like Sandler says in his disclaimer, “If you’re sad now, you might still feel sad” the day after the wedding.
This is why I’ve always insisted on premarital counseling work with my couples, particularly through using Prepare-Enrich. It is all too common that there are couples who have poor communication skills or conflict resolution skills also have a very high idyllic distortion, believing that they don’t have to work on themselves or their interpersonal dynamics, because the wedding day will be such a big turning point in their lives it will solve everything.
“If you were sad where you are, and then you get on a plane to Italy, you in Italy will be the same sad you from before, just in a new place,” Sandler insists. Just replace “get on a plane to Italy” with “get married,” and you’ll understand the point clearly.
Does this mean that the wedding day isn’t meaningful? Not at all. A couple’s wedding day is very symbolic. But in order for that symbolism to have lasting meaning, the work leading up to the big day must mean a life-long commitment to continually nurturing and growing your relationship.
The good news is that once a couple recognizes their idyllic distortion for what it is, they can do the real work on themselves and their relationship so that they will have the kind of marriage they both want and need. Then perhaps when they honeymoon in Italy, they will be the same happy and satisfied couple that boarded the plane as when they return home, but with a lot of great memories.