Monday, October 26, 2015

A Good Metaphor for Life and Marriage

Sunday evening I officiated Megan and Zach’s wedding ceremony at the Hickory Street Annex in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Zach beautifully describes the birth of their relationship, what he loves about Megan, and one of the interesting behavioral commonalities they share:

"I knew I had found someone special. From the first date... I knew she was the one. She's so funny and quirky... She's beautiful, smart, and extremely giving and gracious... We're both pretty clumsy... we always have to warn each other when there's a bump in the road coming up to make sure we don't trip... I... think this is a good metaphor for life and marriage."

Now, at first blush, you might actually disagree with his premise. I mean, would it not make more sense if the clumsy person found a non-clumsy person. Would that not be a better way to avoid tripping over the bumps in the road? Aren't you almost guaranteeing MORE falls if you are both clumsy?
Megan actually gives the perfect answer to this question. I am not sure she even realizes how perfect it was when she wrote it: "I met the perfect guy at the perfect time. I got very lucky!" (Pause.)

Now, at this moment you might feel underwhelmed by that short quote. You need to understand what happened before Megan and Zach met. You see, they both were extremely methodical, careful and deliberate in the run-up to meeting each other. They only met with those whom advanced algorithms told them they should. On top of that, Megan had drawn up a detailed list of qualities she wanted the choices of the algorithm to meet. And she states that she, "had a lot of first dates, no second dates..." So, on a superficial level, you might think that this couple would be justified in saying that luck had nothing to do with arriving here today. So, why does Megan say what clearly both of them feel, that they got lucky?

Because, Megan and Zach recognize that even if you methodically plan, and carefully execute your plan, there are factors you can't think of. So much in life is beyond our control. Now, when you are the clumsy type, you learn this lesson very quickly. You understand that smart and methodical as you may be, luck plays a large part in your existence. This, in turn, helps you develop a sense of empathy for others' failings and stumbles. This sense of empathy helps you develop perhaps one of the most important qualities for life and love: being non-judgmental.

Being non-judgmental means you understand you need to gently warn others from time to time, and that's OK. Being non-judgmental means you understand that even when you warn others, from time to time, they may fail, and that's OK. Being non-judgmental means you understand that even when people fall, it does not mean that they are any more flawed than you, and you can and should help them back up.

When we look at society around us today, I am not sure there is a better lesson for life. When we look at marriage, there can be no better recipe for a long lasting union. This is the important lesson Megan and Zach teach us here today.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Saturday evening I co-officiated Michelle and Melanie’s wedding ceremony with Reverend Aaron White, at the couple’s home in Colleyville, Texas. Here are some of the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Infectious. That sounds like a weird word to begin your personal remarks to a couple with, right? Allow me to explain.

I have each person I marry write an autobiographical essay. I ask specifically why they want to marry. I read these essays, and I take little notes. I try to do this as close as possible to my second meeting with them. That way I remember what my little notes mean. I actually read Michelle and Melanie essays the night before our early morning meeting. Now, I had met them once before, and we talked quite extensively. However, what they wrote about each other - wow! So, even before our second meeting, I was kind of overwhelmed. Listen to this.

Melanie writes:

"What do I love about Michelle?  The list is long. I love how fiery and passionate she is. I love how goal oriented she is.  She is a wonderful athlete who is fueled by setting goals and achieving them.  She is a wonderful mom... She is my best friend. I have never wanted to spend all of my time with someone before like I do with her.  I love how affectionate she has become with me... Anyone that spends time around us, can see how genuinely happy and good we are together.  Fact is, I cannot get enough of Michelle. I get sad when the weekend ends, and I know I will not see her during the day.  Michelle is the best part of my day."

Not to be outdone, Michelle writes:

"Melanie is the most interesting person I've known and even in a short amount of time, I've grown to love her deeper than I've ever loved anyone else in my life. On our toughest days, it never feels like work. She makes me want to be a better person and strive to be the best life partner... She is very protective of me and I know she will always care for me in sickness and health. She is fiercely loyal to all people that she loves... Melanie has taught me that it's okay to let my guard down and be vulnerable. She taught me to love fiercely and never make a decision out of fear. She has shown me how to love unconditionally and lead with my heart not my head."

Wow. How do you even follow that? I mean, I could talk about how interesting parallels and commonalities in the biographies of this Southern lady and New York gal have added color and flavor to their relationship. I could talk about their similarities and how they bring them together. I could talk about their differences, and how they have not only not impeded, but have actually enhanced their relationship. I could talk about what great moms AND daughters they each are. I could probably just talk about their sacrifices and work ethic in all areas of their lives, and how this has brought them closer.

I don't know about you, but to me all of those important points just don't seem to measure up to the infectious nature of the love they share. And so, all I can think of are the simple yet perfect words of Jess Glynne (a young British singer who is both Jewish like Melanie AND a redhead like Michelle), in her song, Real Love, as she conveys my thoughts about Michelle and Melanie's relationship: "You've got the feeling that I want to feel, you've got the feeling that I know is real. This IS real love."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Actions Speak

Saturday evening I co-officiated Jennifer and Noah’s wedding ceremony with Father Milt Raybould at the Hilton Park Cities, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I love origin stories. If you think about it, some of the greatest stories ever told from the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to the Christmas story to the American Revolution. So, I was intrigued by Jennifer and Noah's origin story, the origin story of them as a couple. How did they arrive at the place they are today, where Noah's words ring mutually true, when he says: "I want to marry her because I love her, she is my best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without her. I love the way I feel about her and the way she makes me feel." It sounds pretty extraordinary. So how DID they get there, or if you will, here?

Noah writes: "I remember our (initial) email conversations and eventual phone conversations – I enjoyed talking with Jen and we had a lot in common. I felt a connection with her instantly – I joked, but it is true, that after our first date, I cancelled my other dates!" Humor definitely adds to an origin story, and Noah has that in spades!

I really love the literary aspect of their origin story. I think our grandchildren will find it shocking that most of us, in our generation, did NOT  begin our romantic relationships like Jennifer and Noah. (I can them say, "What? You just met by accident? You didn't email, text, tweet, Facebook etc. first?! That's so weird.) Anyway, listen to Jennifer describe the beauty of this:  "I waited for his responses with great anticipation each day and savored reading every one (even multiple times)..."

It is this type of origin story that allows you to get to know another person on a much deeper level. So, not surprisingly, Jennifer writes what she discovered pretty quickly: "We have many of the same values and life goals which made the first, sometimes awkward-getting-to-know-you emails lots of fun and enjoyable."

And what did they discover about each other during that time and as their relationship developed? Well, Jennifer claims the following is true of Noah, but again, I am pretty sure he would say this is equally true of her: "What we wrote at that time is as true today as it was then, which only makes me love him more. I can easily say he is kind, honest, enthusiastic, etc. and it is all true. What exemplifies it to me, though, is how he conveys it to his friends and family. (Actions always speak louder than words.) He takes the time to make people feel special and to let them know he is thinking of them in his own unique way. This is true for both friends and family, new and old. This sign of loyalty and love he shares with me, too."

Wow! When I taught high school and middle school, I would always advise kids to not look at just what the other person says to them. Rather look at how he treats the server. Look at how she treats the valet. That can tell you a lot, because actions do speak larger than words, and in these actions a person shows their true self. When they do, their words either become, to borrow a phrase from today, richer or poorer.

So, for all of us married couples, present and future, let's keep Jennifer and Noah's message in mind. Actions do speak louder than words, and go ahead and make the other person feel special. Because that is not a bad recipe for a happy marriage, is it?!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fateful Moments

Saturday evening I officiated Sarah and Jeff’s wedding ceremony at Stonebriar Country Club, in Frisco, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The beginning of the story of Sarah and Jeff is amusing, at least the way Jeff tells it: “My sister persuaded me to try one more of HER single groups which I had attended before and most of the women where frankly much older than me and not very attractive. So I decided to try it one more time and saw a new face, and that face belonged to Sarah. I am typically very shy but moved right in to rescue Sarah from some disgusting older Jewish men who were hounding the “fresh meat”. We began to talk and I made her laugh and most the night centered on her furry boots she wore that night. We went out on our first date and the rest is history.”

This is especially interesting, when you take into account what Sarah felt about the institution of marriage up to and even after that fateful encounter: “I’m actually someone who never gave marriage much of a thought when I was younger.  I didn’t particularly have an urge to have children – so it was fine if I got married – and fine if I didn’t.  I’ve been in other relationships in my life, but never felt as though they had to result in marriage.” Isn’t that interesting? Neither of them was looking that seriously for a partner for life, but here we are today.

How did that happen? The fact is that we all have these fateful moments in our lives. We probably have them more than we realize. All too often, we just let them pass, without harnessing their power to turn fate into destiny. What Sarah and Jeff show us is what can happen when we use these moments properly. They can change not only our lives, but our perspectives on life, and the lives of others too, like Sarah tells us: “When Jeff… ask(ed) me to marry him, a real feeling of excitement AND calm came over me.  I feel like with marriage, I will always have someone in my corner – as I will be for him.  We will become a united front…  Jeff is someone who accepts and loves me as I am – and I feel the same way about him!”

And the potential these moments bring? Well, they bring with them a potential for that elusive quality we all seek, not just calm and acceptance, but renewal. As Jeff says: “I finally found someone who loves me for me… I have a partner to share things and experience life all over again.”