Two years seems like such a miniscule amount of time. It’s not a huge chunk of time, but it certainly isn’t yesterday. Yet when I think about our wedding it feels like yesterday.
I remember some of the smallest details of the day – the nervous anticipation that woke me up before the sunrise, the feeling of joy and rightness that came with seeing Ryan for the first time after our first look, the elation and tears after saying our vows and sharing the moment with all of our loved ones.
It’s funny how one single day can hold such importance. It seems silly that one big party can seem so meaningful, especially considering we were already sharing our lives in much the same way before we got married as after. Even so, the memories from our wedding bring such warmth and comfort, and looking back at the vows we made in front of all of our loved ones is a reminder of the bigger picture of our relationship, of the important stuff.
We’ve paid off all my student loans and started to save up money.
We’ve turned down PhD programs, chances to move back to the US, and chances to stay in Korea.
We’ve planned a move to Kyrgyzstan.
I’ve gone home three times and Ryan’s gone home once, but we haven’t been back to the US together yet.
We’ve read books out loud to each other at night before bed, attempting accents reading The Secret Garden and crying at the end of The Book Thief.
We’ve stayed up all night with Roxie when she’s been sick, holding an IV drip and carrying her up and down flights of stairs.
We’ve binge-watched Game of Thrones and Parks and Rec and The Office.
We’ve become vegetarian and learned how to cook food that is meatless, delicious, and healthy.
We’ve hand-washed so many dishes.
We’ve neglected deep-cleaning the apartment for months, finding bags-worth of Roxie fur under the bed and rug when we swept in the spring.
We’ve scrubbed our cream-colored couches a lot.
We’ve been on the same work schedule spending every moment of the day together.
Then, we’ve been on an almost opposite work schedules, only seeing each other for dinner at night.
We’ve walked Roxie more than a thousand miles.
When I think about our marriage and everything that makes us us, there isn’t any big sweeping statement. In our vows we anticipated this, but it’s the daily choices that impact us the most. Choices like saying goodbye in the morning or saying hello first thing at night. Or choices like just doing the dishes even though you’re pretty sure you always do the dishes (Ryan always does them, sucker) (he wrote that). Trading off walking the dog at night and taking an extra night when the other is feeling off. Remembering as often as possible how loving your partner is, and how grateful you are for this life.
We recently read an article about modern interpretations of relationships and marriages. The evolution of marriage is seeing the traditional and the modern mixed together, including marriage contracts with 4-year or 10-year contracts that provide a timeline for reassessment of the relationship.
While Ryan and I have committed to one another for the duration of our lives, we aren’t looking through rose-colored glasses. My parents are divorced and we aren’t naive to the difficulties of maintaining a loving and committed relationship over a period of years. I see the value in having a set time to sit down and reassess the relationship, where things are going well and where things can be improved to make one another the happiest possible.
Ideally this would be reflected on daily, but let’s be real. Sometimes it’s easy to get tunnel vision, to get stuck in the small day-to-day issues like work and dishes and whether the dog has pooped or not. So yeah, it doesn’t happen daily. But I do think it’s important to assess our relationship regularly.
Two years ago, Ryan made these vows to me. Looking at them now, I’m struck by how real they are, how much they resonate with our everyday life. We wanted our vows to be a real reflection of our relationship, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable for some things we’ve thought were important to change over the years. So far, though, these remain the most important tenets of our marriage.
I promise to be your best friend. Everyday,
I will learn to love more deeply, to accept more easily.
I will be at peace, so that you may be at peace,
so that one day our family can grow with joy.
I will be one of your greatest adventures,
and I will always give freely to you from all I find.
May you always be free,
and may I be a reminder of that freedom.
May we travel with laughter instead of worry,
patience rather than anxiety.
We will walk slowly together, filled
with silent wonder.
Our laughter will be coarse but true,
our kisses sincere and grateful.
I will be the spirit that breathes life into your wishes.
I will remain simple, so my love remains clear.
I will be your home, where ever we are.
I will pass time idly and happily with you.
I will give to you from all that I am,
for I have nothing else to offer.
There is no thing that I will cherish over love.
And I will accept you, grow with you, and love you tenaciously everyday.
And two years ago, I made my vows. In the hard times, it’s good to look back at the promises I made when I was thinking big, grand thoughts about our marriage and our life together, and given the chance today I would say the same things and strive to live up to them as best I can.
Thank you for being here with me today. It is hard for me to encompass all of my promises to you in a small statement, because there are so many things I want to promise you. So know that as I marry you today, I’m saying that I mean every word of what we’ve promised each other, each dream we have for our life together. I meant it all.
And today, I promise you that I will be your loving friend. I will be calm, even though many of our days will be haunted with complication, because I know that there will be such beautiful, vivid, and true moments too. I will remember that fear places conditions on our experience, and our thoughts are powerful, so I will be present and accepting in all our encounters.
Because we are two different people, I will support you in your changes and learn with you. As you have shown me, I will radiate the love we have outward toward all, sharing the joy we find with those around us. Today, I choose you to be my family, my husband, my love, and I will continue to chose you everyday, making every effort to show my love for you in thought, word, and action. Wherever we will go together, I will be the companion of your days.
Our vows written and declared so clearly in front of us reminds us of our ideal, which may or may not change. But if/when our ideal changes, we will work together to change with it. We hold closely the knowledge that (hopefully) each of us will grow and change over the years, and we will strive to do so together, supporting one another, and reflecting on how we do so as the years continue.