Today is the first day of my marriage. For this year.
Today is also the 12th first day we’ve had.
When we were engaged and still in the planning process for our first wedding to each other, a couple dear to us mentioned to My Knight that they have renewed their vows every year of their marriage.
She explained that it helps remind you of what you’ve committed to, what you promised, and what you meant to accomplish together. It keeps fresh in your mind throughout the years that this was a choice you made willingly, and it was something you wanted and were dedicated to.
Her husband agreed with her, but he added his own take on their ritual. He told My Knight that if anyone told him he had to spend the rest of his life with her, he wouldn’t be able to do it. But he could do a year. So every time their anniversary rolled around, he decided he could do another year.
They’d been married 52 years at that time if memory serves me correctly, and they’re still married all these years later. They’re still signing up for one more year every time.
My Knight loved the idea so much that he proposed it to me before our first vows were spoken, and being just as much of a hopeless romantic as he is, I wholeheartedly agreed.
Of course, being the planner at heart that I am, I complicated it by saying we would take turns planning a surprise for each year. That way every other year someone is surprised and no one has to bear responsibility for all the planning.
We’ve had some amazing experiences over the years. We’ve done lakeside picnics, lush gardens, the Italian fountain at Epcot, historic inns, a medieval fair (complete with knight and wench costumes), and a beautiful rainforest.
Much like married life, the renewals haven’t always gone as planned.
The hot air balloon for our 5th anniversary was nearly a bust the minute the alarm clock went off way before dawn and My Knight refused to get up—saying that whatever I had planned could surely wait until later in the day after more sleep. Once I got him up and out of the house and to the location where the surprise was revealed, high winds kept the balloon on the ground, and we ended up at a lakeside gazebo later in the day and could have slept after all.
One year, the whole day went by without any mention of a surprise, and by the time dinner rolled around, I had gotten quite cranky thinking perhaps he’d forgotten or had failed to plan. We went to a nice restaurant, but the mood was sour with my disappointment. I’d been spending all my time at the theater in rehearsals for a play, and when he mentioned he needed to stop by there to drop off paint, I acted quite the ass and refused to accompany him inside, upset that he had failed to make the evening special when he’d had a year to plan. Once we were in the dark, deserted theater, he led me around the corner, and when the stage came into view, it was beautifully and magically lit with twinkle lights, and there stood my director and dearest friend waiting to participate in our evening. He’d been thoughtful and caring in his plans, and I’d almost ruined it with my attitude!
We don’t plan any big fanfare or hoopla. In fact, it’s usually just the two of us and someone we select each year to do the text of our original ceremony for us, and some years we have someone to do the original reading as well.
We often ask people who have been instrumental in our lives that past year, or people whose relationship we admire and look up to.
Folks tell me all the time how romantic it is that we do this, and it is. I love that I get to be a bride every year, without all the stress and expense of an actual wedding. I love that we reaffirm our commitment each year and that we honor each other in special ways as we plan the day. I love planning his surprise, and I thoroughly enjoy finding out what he has planned for me.
But it’s not always easy to say those vows again.
Marriages, even the best and happiest ones, have ups and downs. People are messy. Love is messy. It makes you vulnerable, and it can cause pain. It can be frustrating and infuriating.
There have been years where it was easy for those vows to roll off my tongue, and I was able to say them with a smile just as large as on the day I first said them in 2006.
But there have been years that the words were thick in my throat, and it was hard to get them out and muster the conviction I knew I needed to say them. Those were the years that were most important. Those were the years that those vows meant the most.
Because when it is the hardest to love our mate, when it is the hardest to be dedicated to the relationship, when it seems that romance is the farthest thing from the moment…that is when it is most crucial to remember that love is a choice.
In those moments, I am reminded that for better or worse isn’t always better. That to love and cherish above all others isn’t always easy. That to give all that I am, all that I have been, and all that I will be means the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We are both flawed human beings. We love each other. We support each other. We are committed to each other. And yet, there are days, when we can’t stand the sight of each other.
But on November 9th each year, we choose each other again. We choose to say that come what may, you are my partner in this life. We choose to love. We choose to forgive. We choose to move forward. We choose to be married.
We decide to sign up for one more year.
Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you. I can’t wait to marry you again today, and I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.