Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Inspiring Each Other

Sunday evening (5/25) I officiated Michelle and Jim's wedding ceremony, at Dan Meiner's in Kansas City, Missouri. This wedding was extra special for me, since Michelle was my student, when she was in high school! Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the wonderful benefits of this approach, of always trying to learn from everyone, is that if you truly embrace it, in both formal and informal settings, you end up being inspired by and learning from your students more than you could ever have taught them. Indeed, as one of the rabbis observed about 2000 years ago, much have I learned from my teachers, more from my peers, but most of all from my students.

Now, beyond inspiring and teaching me, her former teacher, with her learning back then and growth since, Michelle writes the following about Jim, and evokes a marvelous lesson about what true love is really all about: "To me, true love is the ability to put another person's well being, happiness, and comfort before your own. Everyday that I spend with Jim, I'm witness to his selflessness and desire to put me and my well being before himself and his well being. What I find even more amazing is his ability to do so without any hesitation or second thoughts. Whether he's offering me the beanie (ski cap) off his head when we're out in the middle of winter and I've failed to dress warmly enough, or he's letting me have the last bite of his favorite snack that we've been sharing, or he's insisting that he can carry in a dozen grocery bags from the car as he hands me a single bag containing only the eggs- his selflessness is apparent everyday and it serves as a constant reminder of the love that he has for me. And everyday I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because I have found true love."

Jim writes about the mutual learning and inspiration they have shared, and how love itself can be a teacher: "We share all the same values... She keeps me honest and grounded in my daily life... She reminds me there is a balance between work and pleasure that too often was missing in my past. It has been great to watch Michelle as she becomes more confident and open. When we first met, she was relatively timid and reserved. (I have no idea what you mean, Jim...) It’s been a great feeling to watch her blossom. She seems more sure of herself and more willing to present her ideas and feelings than in the past and I like to think my love and support has played a role in that. "

So, beyond these specific lessons, Michelle and Jim teach us something vital. In order to make the spousal relationship work, we need to be open and able and willing to learn from each other. It is said that the two most important words in marriage are, "Yes, dear." Having been married myself for 21 years I know that to be true. However, what Michelle and Jim tell us is that it really only works, if we internalize that saying, try to see the other person's perspective, and learn from each other. Then it not only works, but does marvels for the life of a couple.

Michelle and Jim, thank you for this lesson. May you continue to learn from and be inspired by each other, as you continue to inspire us too.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Predicting the Future

Today (Saturday 5/24) I officiated Vanina and James' wedding ceremony, at Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park, in Mansfield, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them, their families, and their friends:

The baseball great, Yogi Berra, is rumored to have once said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future..." The thing is, when we marry, we have to try to predict the future. We have to be confident that this is the person we should spend the rest of our life with. How do we do that?

Well, obviously, there is something to be said for just generally being on the same wave length, so to speak, and putting smiles on each other's faces. As Vanina tells about the beginning of this relationship, which like many today started digitally. "We would type the exact same thing at the same time, multiple times, and he had me laughing aloud every minute."

Of course, the fact is that we won't always and regarding every issue be on the same wave length, and that is probably a good thing. So what is the next important thing? It is sharing experiences, paying attention, and learning from those experiences about ourselves, our lovers, and that other entity, our relationship. As James tells us, "Vanina and I have been through a lot together, and we have taken the time to figure out each other."

Above all, the most important thing is having and working on a true sense of love and caring despite the times, issues and circumstances, where we might differ. As James says about Vanina, "She is one of the most caring people I know. For all my faults she accepts me and cares for me."

When you have those vital components in your relationship, and you continue to cultivate them, you may not be able to predict the unknowable, but you can narrow down how you will be impacted by it. Then you can confidently say like Vanina does, "I love him to pieces. He is my love, my darling and my heart and I could not picture my life with out him."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Like Opening a Bottle of Lightning

Last night, Saturday 5/17, I officiated Monique and Tony's wedding at Hotel Mazarin, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Over the last few months, I spoke with both Monique and Tony together, and individually, about their relationship. Both of Monique and Tony's accounts were so beautiful, that I believe paraphrasing them would be a crime. Instead, I would like to share some of their descriptions with all of you now.

Monique described their first meeting and their relationship: "Tony was sitting on steps in front of a building waiting for me. I got out of the taxi, our eyes met, and the strangest thing happened. I didn’t feel love at first sight or butterflies, but rather a recognition that my life was about to change. I desired to know this person. We ended up having the best date I’ve ever had. It was like our lives had been running parallel to one another, each of us waiting for the perfect time to intersect. We each had exactly what the other person needed and wanted."

Tony used a fascinating phrase I actually have never seen before, but I immediately understood what he meant:  "Our first time together was like opening a bottle of lightning. Hours with her seemed like minutes. I knew immediately – and have felt since – that she was one of the people who would be a big part of my life... Aside from my son*, I have never felt such closeness with another human being.  I feel that each day I spend with Monique is a gift."

Wow. Is that cool or what? Every couple should strive for such a deep and profound connection.

I always encourage couples, who have children from previous relationships to acknowledge them in their ceremony. Such encouragement was not necessary here.  In fact, both Monique and Tony expressed the importance of Tony's son in their relationship.

Tony said, "As much as I immediately cared for Monique, I knew that I was not the only party that mattered here. Thus, it was with the utmost joy that I watched Monique and my son get to know, and care for, each other. Although my son and I have always had a wonderful relationship, it wasn’t until Monique joined us that we have felt like a family." And Monique reflects this right back, when she speaks of her two favorite guys, "Tony and his son are my family now. They were both so generous with their love, they were able to tear down my walls. Their love feels like the safest place I’ve ever known. I think I provide the same for them as well."

Monique and Tony, what can I even attempt to add to that? May you together with Tony's son, continue to enjoy this lightning in a bottle that you three have captured together.

* In my remarks I used his name. I have excised it here to protect his privacy.