Sunday, November 17, 2019

Down Pat

Saturday evening, I officiated Julie and Adam’s wedding ceremony, at Marie Gabrielle, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

This is hardest part of writing a wedding ceremony around and with a couple. Julie and Adam made it easy though, because they address the reasons for why they want to do what they are about to do so cogently. Interestingly, and if you know them this will not floor you, they both include lists. (By the way, Adam’s list utilizes numbers and Julie’s utilizes bullet points, and I’m sure some doctoral student in psychology could explain that part…)

Adam, helpfully, cautions that this is just a teaser, since his vows and toast will include more. And he admits, “There was no single moment when I knew I had fallen in love with Julie, when I knew I wanted her to be my life partner. It, sort of, snuck up on me, and one day, I just knew that I was in love. I had several epiphanies that made me realize it.” Here comes the list, and I am abridging parts here, or we’d be here all night:

“1. Nothing makes me happier than when I’m able to make Julie smile or laugh. I get so much joy from seeing her be happy. Realizing this was perhaps the #1 sign that told me I was in love and ready… The rewards from seeing that smile are endless 
2. As someone who travels Monday-to-Thursday every week, I started to realize: I missed her… I became so excited to come home on Thursday evenings, not just to be home, but because I would get to see her. I couldn’t wait to walk in the door and give her a hug. It’s a feeling I’ve never had with anyone else. 
3. Julie loves me for who I am. I’m a quirky person, but Julie has never tried to change that. She indulges my love of board games and Game of Thrones. She tolerates – and even supports – my 5am wake-up calls so I can run for 3 hours on Saturday mornings. She attends my reunions with my business school crew… She embraces my quirks and passions…” 

Now, I am probably not the only one who has observed that Julie and Adam are mature beyond their years. So, the first thing Julie says won’t surprise you: “I used to think that the definition of love was infinite closeness—knowing everything about another person and intertwining your lives completely. I’ve realized since that partnership requires some distance, to appreciate each other’s gifts and give each other room to grow as individuals… I don’t feel like I need to know everything about Adam before committing to spend my life with him... (because) Adam is extremely consistent. He has a strong moral compass and lives by these beliefs.” Then she lists four examples in bullet points: 

“• Adam is a feminist. He once turned down an opportunity for additional visibility and recognition at work and insisted that the opportunity be offered to a female colleague. 
• Adam thinks it’s important to show up for his friends. At any birthday or bachelor party, Adam can be counted on to fall asleep on the floor or couch, because he wants to stay until the bitter end with the guest of honor. 
• Adam is an environmentalist. He wrote an essay in middle school about why gas-guzzling SUVs should be banned, and is a Prius driver today. 
• Adam believes in putting the needs of others above his own. When I was flying out to Cuba after we’d been dating for a few months, he insisted on driving me to the airport at 4am, even though he had barely slept all week. When I travel for weekend trips, I have several times come home to find that he grocery shopped for me and made my lunches for the week…”  

That last part might be the most important lesson for marriage. The Ancient Rabbis ask what commandment one fulfills simply through the act of marriage. They answer, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the essence of which is putting the needs of the other, in this case your spouse, above your own needs. Sounds like Julie and Adam have that one down pat.

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