Saturday, March 30, 2024

I Can’t Imagine

On Saturday, March 16th, I officiated Lindsey and Dan’s wedding ceremony at the Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I marry to write an autobiographical essay. Though this is meant to help me get to know them better, eventually, the person they are marrying gets to read their essay too. 

With that in mind, you can immediately see how smart Dan is. He writes: “I moved to Dallas at the very end of 2021 from Michigan. Surfing the dating apps, Lindsey and I matched within the first few weeks of me living here. I remember seeing her picture and my jaw literally dropped. ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘She’s beautiful!’”

Dan made a move, and Lindsey writes: “I was cautiously optimistic about getting together,” which is exactly what you want to hear, as a guy… Why cautiously? Lindsey continues: “Cautiously because he asked me to pick the location of the date, which gave me a little pause about how serious he was, but optimistic because he seemed like a great guy. My best friend Leigh encouraged me to give him a chance and I am so glad she did!”

Dan illuminates: “Since I’d just moved here, I didn’t really know any good spots to take her. I suggested she pick the spot and I would take her there… Thankfully for me, her friend told her to keep an open mind and go, and I’m glad she did. We met for a drink and talked for a few hours. The conversation was easy and I was excited to take her out again. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

There is an incredible lesson here. It might seem almost too obvious, but it is really hard sometimes in any relationship, professional or personal, romantic or platonic, to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. And yet, this might be the most important thing we have to do. 

This certainly worked out for Dan. He says, “Lindsey is an amazing woman and friend. She has a big heart for the people she loves and would do anything for them. She’s incredibly put together… She’s going to be an amazing parent. I’ve… felt with her… a closeness that I’ve never felt with anyone else. She’s also sneakily funny… At the end of the day, she just makes me really happy. I know that I’m a better version of myself when I’m around her, and she’s already improved the man I am…”

This certainly worked out for Lindsey, too. As she says: “I am so excited to get to marry Dan. I feel so at home with him, and I love the life we are building together. I wake up every day excited… I couldn’t imagine my life without Dan, and I feel so lucky that I met him at the right time in both of our lives… I feel so ready to commit our lives to each other because it feels like we already have… I can’t imagine creating any future memories without Dan and I am so excited to call him my husband…”

A Stoic/Rabbinic Virtue

On Saturday, March 2nd, Casey Grounds and I co-officiated Ross and Chad’s wedding ceremony at The Springs in Waxahachie, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You really can’t make up how Ross and Chad’s love story begins. I don’t mean how they met; I mean their actual falling in love. Ross says: “Sounds kinda unorthodox, but I knew I first fell in love with Chad after spending time with each other and realizing I didn’t mind him breathing on me. Some context: Having people breathe on my face/neck is a big pet peeve of mine.” LOL, as the kids might say!

Truthfully, though, Ross and Chad’s story is a truly beautiful one. They met the old-fashioned way, IRL, specifically at a gaming convention. They more than noticed each other, but were dating others at the time, so it was not to be. 

Chad picks up the story from there: “We both ended the aforementioned relationships around the same time and when I returned from a dance competition early on Memorial Day weekend in 2015, I called him to set up a dinner date. I was IMMEDIATELY smitten. I did not want to push things too much but many of my friends and students can tell you that I was literally floating around for about the next 6-9 months!”

They became a couple and moved in together, but then came another stroke of luck/challenge. Ross fulfilled a dream of getting into dental school. In San Antonio. Ouch. They made the long-distance relationship work, though, and reunited upon Ross’s graduation. 

Ross says: “Chad proposed my first day working as a dentist while we were on a date at the same place we had our very first date, Kura Sushi. It felt like a long time coming, after being together for seven years and with a deep love for each other to this day.”

Now, hopefully you have picked up on this by this point in the ceremony, but Chad is Jewish. What you may not know is that Ross follows an ancient tradition too, Stoicism. And what Ross did not realize until I wrote these remarks is that I follow that tradition too. 

I was struck by this passage in the Epistles of Seneca (one of the three great Roman Stoics, along with Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius), because it seems to describe Ross and Chad and their relationship so beautifully: “Nature bore us related to one another … She instilled in us a mutual love and made us compatible … Let us hold everything in common; we stem from a common source. Our fellowship is very similar to an arch of stones, which would fall apart, if they did not reciprocally support each other.”

The Ancient Rabbis, like the Stoics, focused on virtue and action. They ask a question about love that might sound odd to us but would make much sense to the Stoics: What commandment does one fulfill through loving one’s romantic partner? Easy, say the Rabbis, “Love your fellow as yourself.” (Side note: In the Rabbis’ wording both partners are men.) Ross and Chad, what we wish for you is that you continue to enjoy the fulfillment of this Stoic/Rabbinic virtue for many many years to come.

Create an Open Household

On Saturday, January 20th, Nelson Head and I co-officiated Kim and Josh’s wedding ceremony at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Josh’s description of how he met Kim is fairly conventional. I mean, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “I met Kim at a pumpkin carving party taking place at a co-resident’s house, where she happened to be a judge in our margarita contest.” (Pause for laughter.) OK, maybe not so conventional, after all…

This encounter did show that Josh was a forgiving man, though: “While she didn’t rank my margarita as #1, I was able to look past her mistake, and the rest of the night had an immediate spark. By the end of the night, I couldn’t wait to see her again and meet Gracie after talking most of the evening about her.”

Lest you think Josh is exaggerating about any part of this, particularly his lingering margarita related feelings, Kim backs him up: “Our first encounter was at a Halloween pumpkin carving party where no one ended up actually carving pumpkins. There was, however, a margarita making contest and to this day, Josh is insulted that I didn’t pick his as the best.”

So, what is it that makes Kim and Josh’s relationship work? I believe if you analyze it, you will see that it is a mixture, the right mixture of similarities and differences. 

Similarities? First of all, they are both not just medical professionals. For them, in light of their life experiences, medicine is a calling, a vocation; one might say they are true healers. They both absolutely, positively love Gracie, originally Kim’s, now their dog. As Kim says, “If a guy can love a dog that much then I’m pretty sure he’s a good guy.” Of course, this applies to her too.

Differences? Kim says that he can do chemistry, while she can’t. More relevant to day to day life, she says, “Josh loves to cook and I hate to. I like to clean, and he doesn’t.” Now, if you know Josh, you know she speaks the truth. Josh says: “I found myself learning how to cook from my mother and taking on the role of preparing dinner each night, sometimes more elaborate of a meal than a 16-year-old should be preparing… Continuing to cook for my friends, whether at high school reunions when we are all back in Miami, hosting Thanksgiving dinner with my father as my sous chef, or during a casual evening, cooking has become a way to show my love to those I care deeply about. Kim is still waiting for Josh to learn how to make sushi, though.”

The area of their faiths is another in which their differences have brought them together. This ceremony and the past few holiday seasons are a testament to this. As Josh says, “During our first holiday season together, I decorated my first Christmas tree and Kim lit her first Chanukiah. Getting to share each other’s traditions and talk about how we wanted to celebrate in the future and with a family was exciting and comforting—creating an open household that encourages diversity and celebrating multiple traditions.”

Kim and Josh, that is exactly what we wish for you. May your similarities and your differences continue to enliven your relationship, and may your household truly be a place of openness and diversity.