I ask every person I marry to write an autobiographical essay. When reading Ashley's essay, I noticed a word repeating itself: Amazing.
Ashley tells us that her brothers are amazing, that they married two amazing women, and that together they are raising amazing children. Ashley tells us that Erez's sons are amazing. And, finally, Ashley says, "We... want to grow our family and having the commitment of marriage is part of that amazing journey." Can you sense a theme here?
So, how does a couple end up with amazing children? Put a little differently, and this is the way I like to think about child rearing in my own life, how do I ensure my children will only need a minimal amount of therapy... Seriously, though, how do we, as parents, raise a child that ends up describing his youth like Erez does, "I always had a good head on my shoulders, treated people with respect and tried to enjoy life."
The answer isn't really that complicated, the entire industry of child rearing books notwithstanding. Part of it, like anything in life, is luck. Another part, and this is easier said than done, is treating your kids like you would others, when they do things differently than you. Erez says, "I have a tremendous respect for people and their choices, so I don't judge." And, he is consistent, in that he practices what he preaches with regard to his kids.
The most important prerequisite for ending up with amazing children, though, is unconditional love. Ashley says about her parents, "I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today, if it wasn’t for all of the continuous love and support they have provided me throughout my life."
Now, by this point you might wonder, are we at a wedding of two individuals or a parenting seminar. Well, neither. As I mentioned earlier in the ceremony, this day celebrates Ashley, Erez, and Erez's sons becoming one family.
That said, if you think about it, the ingredients I mentioned for raising great kids are, not surprisingly, great ingredients for a successful marriage. You need a little bit of luck, say like joining the right workplace soft ball team, and playing positions on the field that are fairly close to each other.
You need to respect the fact that people are different, and will do things a little differently, say, and this is just a random example, that that person may be a fairly secular Jew, while you are more of a traditionally minded Catholic or vice versa.
And, you need unconditional mutual love. This kind of love might cause you to repeat that word we started with. You might say, as Erez does, that, "Ashley is an amazing woman. She's fun, smart and makes me feel like a better man." This kind of love, if you were Ashley, might cause you to say, "I’ve always dreamt about my wedding day and who would be my husband. I’ve found him. We’ve been together for over 4 years and I’m ready to wake up everyday to call Erez my husband."