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.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Journey Together

Saturday evening, Father Bryan Shields and I co-officiated Malise and Adam’s wedding ceremony, in the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to write an autobiographical essay, which serves as the raw material for these remarks. Sometimes, what they write is so powerful, the remarks almost write themselves. This is one of those cases. 

Listen to how they describe their feelings for and gratitude towards each other. Malise says, “I have never met a man like Adam. He is one of the most patient, understanding, and kind people I have ever met. Having only met him three months after I moved to New York, I was unsure if I wanted a boyfriend at that time, but he quickly became a constant in my life and provided a sense of comfort and support I cannot live without…” 

And Adam says, “I want to marry Malise because she makes me a better and happier person… She makes me laugh, accepts all of my quirks, stimulates me intellectually, and forces me to always try to improve myself… I…  can tell she'll be an incredible mother…” 

How do you get there? The answer is almost too simple: Open and clear communication, coupled with respect for the other person’s autonomy. Malise and Adam are explicit about this. Adam says: “We… have had a very upfront and communicative relationship… (We are) both… fairly opinionated and stubborn… but… we… discuss things openly and calmly with one another and respect each other’s thoughts. To me this is one of the key reasons we get along so well.” 

Malise agrees: “We have talked a lot about our future life together… how we want to keep open and constant communication… neither of us expect the other to change… who they are for each other.”

That’s why Adam says, “Given how open we have always been with each other… I believe we're ready to get married now… we look forward to embarking on that journey together really as soon as possible.” 

And it is this clarity that drives Malise to say, “I believe it wholeheartedly when each of us says we will be together forever… He is simply the perfect match for me… There is no better time than now to start our next chapter.”

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Every Day is a New Adventure

Friday evening, I officiated Annat and Weslyn’s wedding ceremony, at Remi's Ridge at Hidden Falls, in Spring Branch, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Some people think that during personal remarks at a wedding, I should talk about how marriage is all about sunshine and butterflies, about unending happiness, about constant perfection. That would make zero sense, because this is real life and not a fairy tale. And, one of the things that I love about Annat and Wes’ relationship is that they have no time for this either.

Annat is very open about the fact that, in her words, “Weslyn and I are both so similar and different from each other at the same time. I can tan, and he can’t; he’s patient, I’m impatient; he’s good at putting his thoughts into words, I’m not.”

Wes too tells us that they, “record each other dancing and send it to friends to purposely embarrass one another. We correct each other, push each other, compete with each other, and sometimes drive each other to the brink of madness.”

Annat and Wes recognize the truth in what the author, Mary Wright, writes, “There is no perfect relationship. That would be boring, right? Relationships should be complex and challenging, because a relationship that is not growing is dying. And it takes two emotionally strong and mature individuals to overcome any difficulty that may come their way.”

You do sense that these two are indeed quite emotionally strong and mature, in a way that belies their relatively young age. This is why Annat says, “I have never met anyone else that I align so great and effortlessly with. Although we may butt heads with each other from time to time, we always… turn arguments into discussions.” This is why Wes says, “We’re always real with each other. All of this… I have found in no one else.”

It is this realness, which I was surprised to discover is a real word, that leads Annat to say, “I know I can always be myself around him and will always be able to rely on him to be there for me, regardless of the situation. He is truly my best friend… He makes even the most boring days entertaining and fun. I truly believe we can encourage each other to accomplish anything we want, as long as we do it together.”

It is this same realness, that leads Wes to say, “Every day is a new adventure… she embodies everything which my soul desires, and I firmly believe that she always will. Together, we choose to live our lives the way we want, with the things we have worked for, and with the people we love. That is why I want to share my last name, share who I am, and share everything I’ll ever have and ever be, with her.”