Monday, May 02, 2005

The Runaway Bride

Over the past few days, we've all found out how Jennifer Wilbanks got a serious case of Cold Feet and faked a kidnapping so that she wouldn't have to get married this past Saturday.

The wedding was to be a massive to-do--600 guest, 14 bridesmades and groomsmen, and, considering her fiance's father is a fomer mayor of Duluth, GA, alot of social pressure and responsibility.

I understand how she could have got cold feet. Marriage is hard. The odds aren't good. And when there is alot at stake at the social level along with the personal, it could make a girl freak.

Many people don't seem to understand how marriage is not just about love and living happily ever after. It is a social contract between families as well as individuals. It is also a social contract with one's secular community and one's community of faith (if one is involved in one).

With marriage, two people are not only promising to "love" one another but also to build a stable home where the individuals involved will care about and for one another into old age. And if there are children, they will raise those children to be productive members of society.

And if y'all don't believe how marriage can be about the social contract between two individuals and an entire community, look at the way the community of Duluth GA, not just Wilbanks' fiance, his family, her family and friends, are saying about her now. The community is feeling "betrayed" by the kidnapping hoax, and some are now calling for Wilbanks to be thrown in jail, or to at least pay for the overtime in the police investigation.

There isn't much sympathy from the community at large. And very little understanding over how a young woman from such high circumstances, whose marriage appeared to be a three-ring circus of joy, could run away from it.

Isn't the type and kind of wedding Jennifer Wilbanks, her finance, and all that extended family and friends planned every little girl's dream?

Perhaps not.

Perhaps Jennifer Wilbanks realized that there would be far more people involved in her marriage than she may have wanted.

Perhaps the thought of that much hoopla and the doors it would close after it was all over became far too much for Jennifer Wilbanks to bear. Perhaps what she really wanted was freedom, not all that personal, family, and social responsibility. Perhaps she wasn't ready for it, but didn't know or understand that she had the option to call it all off--that, sure, everybody would be seriously pissed off, but that faking a kidnapping might piss off more than just her immediate and massive group of family and friends.

Maybe all she wanted, after all, was her privacy and her freedom.

I don't think the community's anger is at the amount of overtime she owes the police force. I think it has more to do with her cold feet--and that the betrayal of the situation is more about how she denied them the fairy tale vision that her wedding was scripted to be...and the beautiful children and the perfect example of a loving couple that her life was supposed to be.

And I wonder how many of us can identify or sympathize with Jennifer, or if we are, like the community, self-righteously angry at her because she threw away such such a grand send-off and the projection of so much perfection.

Personally, I think she should have packed a bag, emptied the bank accounts, and left an "adios buddy, catch you later" letter. Do the good chicken-livered thing and end the relationship from a few states away. But I don't believe that crminal penalties are in order for a case of bad judgement predicated on the feeling of being stuck like a mouse in a humaine trap.

I'd be curious to hear how other Blogsisters feel about what Jennifer Wilbanks did.

Tish G.

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