It’s been ten years since we celebrated a wedding that wasn’t exactly a fairy-tale (but a great story…). Since we stood in that dark garden and made promises about a future we could only imagine, a future we knew nothing about. Made promises about a life we were only beginning to build.
We promised to try to see things through the other person’s eyes.
We didn’t know then just how often that view would be obscured. How hard it can be to see around our own self-interest, our own insecurities, our own deep fears. To see past the other person’s armor. To look for their heart without the filter of our own. To simply even realize that this practice isn’t solely for disagreement or misunderstandings, but that we must look up from the minutia of our days and try to see the small and mundane and daily through their eyes as well.
We promised to listen when the other person spoke.
We didn’t know then how much easier it is to hear than listen, how much easier it is to think we already know what the other person will say or think or do than pause long enough to truly be open to listening to what they are saying in this moment. We didn’t know then that this listening also requires a commitment to speak. We can only listen when the other is willing to say what they feel, what they think, what they want. We didn’t know then how easy it can be to leave the uncomfortable unsaid, to swallow the little hurts and also the little loves as we go on about our days.
We promised to always reach for each other in affection, to share touch and show our love physically.
We didn’t know then that affection can grow routine too, that it’s not just the reaching for a hand or a kiss hello or goodbye, but the awareness, the intention, of that touch as well. We didn’t know then how easy it can be to miss days, weeks, of this when we’re not paying attention. How waking up at different times for work and being on the phone when the other person walks in the door and “just one more episode” and “I’ll be right there” and “love you, hon” can mean weeks of brushing up so close to one another that we think we’re touching, but we’re not.
We promised to make “love a verb” in our life, to root our love in action.
We didn’t know then that our marriage would require us to learn how to love ourselves in order for "love as a verb” to be sustainable over time. We didn’t know then that this also meant that we have to choose to see the actions of the other person as acts of love, to recognize and feel the love behind their daily gifts of grocery stops or oil changes or laundry folding. We didn’t know then that loving someone actively requires so much compassion as every day we reveal to each other the deep flaws inherent in our humanity.
When we stood in that dark garden amidst family and friends and made promise after promise, there was somuch we didn’t know. We didn’t know that the future held so many moments of beauty and also of pain. We didn’t know how very vulnerable we’d feel sometimes, how many times we’d fail each other and ourselves, how very hard it can be to navigate life caring so deeply for someone else’s wellbeing in addition to our own. So, somuch we just didn’t get back then.
But it turns out that we don’t really need to be able to see so far ahead, that it’s perfectly okay to make promises and commitments from the very place that we stand in the moment and adjust along the way.
We stand by all of those promises we made all of those years ago and this decade together has shown us just how powerful they truly are.
Those promises have been the bedrock on which we built one version of our life and then dismantled it and then built another one that we will surely dismantle eventually building yet another. Those promises have been where we rooted our trust and our respect for one another. Where we learned to do really, really hard things together.
We have fought and hurt each other and let each other down so many times over the last ten years. But at the end of the day we come back over and over and over again to grasp the other’s hand and pull in close and say once again,
“I choose you. I love you. This life is better and more beautiful with you by my side. Thank you so much for being you. We will grow and change and shift and adjust and that is okay. We will learn together. And I promise to continue to work to see things through your eyes. To listen when you speak. To touch you in love and affection. And to make love a verb, to act out of love, as we navigate the twists and turns of this wild life side by side."
I thought it would be fun to share some images over our year together…there are plenty of crappy copies of snapshots and even more missed moments (our early years did not include smartphones and ever-present cameras…) and I smiled the whole time I was pulling these out of the archives…