I respected him before I knew him, and liked him as a human being before I loved him as more.
He is someone I have fun with, am supported by, and challenges me. In him was a man I couldn’t imagine being without. He is someone I want to invest in, and make his life better.
He understands that because our children are important, there are evenings when our relationship is temporarily put on the back burner because a child needs a concert to be heard, or a birthday to be celebrated, or a game to be watched, or simply a card game to be played–providing a safe haven for our kids is important–and he gets that. That is part of getting me…and I love him for that.
He inspires me to be a better version of myself. My heart slows when he enters the room, because when he’s around, all is right with the world, and I relax. He is good to me, and good for me. He gets that I do crazy unusual stuff like weekly radio, regular writing for a blog, weekly Starbucks visit with a friend, and occasional teaching that can require hours of prep and a willing soul to hear me practice…he listens like its the only thing in the world he wants to do at that moment.
Our vows–not pulled from a book or website…uniquely ours. He wrote his. I wrote mine. We wrote, and edited, and edited again…fussed over them for several days a bit at a time, until they said what we wanted them to say. I’ve watched couples struggle through hard times and win–love wins. I’ve watched successful couples and seen what is their relationship “secret sauce”. I’ve watched people live out their vows…being a couples therapist shaped my own vows.
We decided on some overlap…and some parts of it unique. What he needed to hear as promises from me is different than the promises I needed to hear from him.
What I said to him, as I committed my forever on this earth to him…
J, Last summer when we first met for lunch to talk about our kids, we sat for hours longer than either of us realized…we shared stories of heartbreak and struggle, and our parenting celebrations and goofs. We simply enjoyed friendship in a way that caught us both by surprise. Then, as we started walking in the cool fall evenings, we listened much more to each other’s stories. We laughed a lot, even as we talked about so much hard stuff.
We clicked…in all sorts of ways–in a circumstance that was unusual. And it seemed that so often when we spent an evening together, it was one more opportunity to discover one more way we clicked.
J, There are many wonderful things about you, but perhaps one of the most lovely qualities is the way you have gently and thoughtfully made it possible for me, who’s been hurt before, to move forward our relationship.
Long before there was a “we”, I heard stories of your loving faithfulness to Car, and how the two of you worked to make your marriage work. Then, as we did become a “we”, you were so sensitive and reassuring. You made space for who I was and am.
You celebrate my strengths, and believe in me.
I’ll never forget the early winter afternoon when you asked me not to be mad at you because you hadn’t just taken my car in for an oil change as a favor…you had also put winter tires on my vehicle. You said that if we got married, you wanted your future wife to be safe. And if we didn’t get married, you wanted me to always know that I was thought of and valued, and treasured.
You have created safety for me within our relationship, and I want to thank you for that….
You have taken deliberate and great care in thinking our relationship through in terms of our children. [wee bit of teariness here] Thank you for your concern and love for my Junior Tribe Members—you understand, maybe because of the tremendous love you have for your own children, how very important my JTM’s are to me. I can be a better mother because of you.
[insert deep breath here]
J, because of who you are, and because of who you are to me, and because of how very much I love you, believe in us, and am committed to you–with God’s help, I now promise to:
Support and love you–today, tomorrow, and each day for the rest of our lives in all the circumstances life gives us. I’m going to make mistakes, and will be asking for your forgiveness. I promise to learn from those mistakes…
I commit myself to working with you on the very hard stuff of life. I want us to face our differences head on, struggling through them with integrity, trusting that those difficult conversations will lead to a richer and deeper relationship. I commit myself to inviting you to be open about things that are important to you, even if they are hard for me to hear.
I commit to celebrating and practicing a life of gratitude, joy and laughter with you. We laugh often and much. I believe that will give us resilience to handle the inevitable challenges that we will face in our lives together.
I want to learn from you about how better to be your partner. I commit to being a student of you, J, to discover what makes you tick, what is important to you, and how best to ollaborate with you.
I commit to letting myself be known, letting you know who I authentically am. That requires a discipline of vulnerability which I believe God calls us all to. That won’t always be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.
I commit to us figuring out how to parent our children in a situation that they didn’t ask for, but have blessed us in. I want to help you be the best dad you can be, and I commit myself to being there for your sons in the way that fits each of them best.
I will be faithful to you and you alone. Together we faithfully place God as the author of our lives, and weave our story to be a part of the bigger one of His. We will write ourselves a better story together, than either of us could have alone.
You understand better than most what a forever love looks like, and how painful it is to follow that through to the end. I respect that profoundly. I commit myself to you as long as God gives us both breath.
[Sigh] Feels good to be married to this man.