Today I Will Marry My Husband. Again.

tattoo wedding band, married hands, vow renewal, 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 Sarasota Medieval Faire; Vow Renewalpicnics, 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.

Hot Air Balloon Ride for Anniversary Vow RenewalFolks 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.

My Knight and I at the top of Notre Dame in Paris.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.

A Knight, A Wench, and a Medieval Fair

Just write. Freewriting exercise and link-up. Photo courtesy of Moulin Rouge, Twentieth Century Fox DVD.My Knight and I celebrated our 7th anniversary in November, and as we do every year, we renewed our vows.  Shortly before we got married, we learned that friends of ours renew their vows every year and have done so for more than 50 years!  The lovely wife described it so romantically and with such deep meaning.  She said that when you read those vows each year, you are reminded of what you promised.  You are held accountable for your commitment, and it makes it easier to remember why you do what you do the other 364 days.  You renew that commitment and that promise each year, and it keeps your vows fresh in your mind and in your heart. Her husband’s explanation was much more humorous, but no less true.  He said if someone had told him he had to spend the rest of his life with her, he would have probably gone mad or given up.  But each year, he figures he can do it for one more year.  So each year on their anniversary, he signs up for just one more year.  And he’s done that one year at a time for over 50 years! We loved that.  And we decided to incorporate their tradition into our marriage.  We take turns planning a special surprise for the vow renewal each year.  So each year one person is in the hot seat to plan, and the other gets to relax and be surprised.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “relax” and be surprised.  Because although I personally love to plan AND receive surprises, My Knight finds nothing at all relaxing about having no clue what he is doing.  He is great at planning the surprises on his years, but he is a bear to deal with when he is being surprised.  (The year I planned a hot air balloon ride that required a pre-dawn arrival, I thought I was going to kill him in the process of getting him awake, out of the house, and to the designated location without him knowing what was happening.)  Sarasota Medieval FaireThis was my planning year, and I arranged for us to attend a Medeival Fair and have our vows renewed by a Scottish monk (actor).  And I figured we should wear costumes to really experience the moment.  Oh boy. His questions, guesses, and attempts to trick me into giving away the surprise were incessant. My Knight:  “Will I have access to our car?” Me:  “Yes.” My Knight:  “So it’s not a cruise?” Or My Knight:  “Should I pack sneakers or flip-flops?” Me:  “Pack both.” My Knight:  “So I’ll need a swimsuit and flip-flops?” Once we got all checked into the hotel the night before the renewal, he admitted with a grin that he had figured out what we were doing.  My Knight:  “You act like I don’t know you at all.  We’re on the coast.  You’ve been checking the weather all week.  I needed to pack a swimsuit.  Obviously, we’re renewing our vows on the beach.” He looked so smug and confident that I just opened my mouth in shock dismay and disappointment and let him think he was right. The morning of the vow renewal, he announced he was going to shower and go to McDonald’s for coffee.  I told him I had something special for him to wear. Tavern Wench costume, Sarasota Medieval FaireWhen he stepped out of the shower, I was attired in my costume, and I announced I would be his “tavern wench” for the day.  He looked more than a bit confused, as he was convinced we were headed for the beach. Then I led him to the bed, where I had laid out a costume befitting My Knight.  To say he was speechless really does not convey the poor man’s shock. Knight Costume, Sarasota Medieval Faire He covered his face with both hands, laughing hysterically in such a manner that I was not sure if it was a “Wow, this is hilarious but great” kind of laugh, or a “She has lost her freakin’ mind if she thinks I’m wearing that” kind of laugh.  A couple of times he would open his fingers, look at the costume again, and then laugh harder.  There were even a few tears, and I don’t think they were sentimental.  I think they were more desperation and fear! Knight costume, Sarasota Medieval FaireBut he is such a wonderful sport and such a gallant knight that he suited up with a smile.  I offered to eliminate the hood, the sleeves, the gloves and the cape.  But My Knight was determined to look the part.  God, I love that man!!! (He did, however, decide not to go to McDonald’s for coffee……) I had never been to a Medieval Fair, and I have to say that we had a blast!  There was jousting, and fencing, and a human chess tournament.  We marveled at the dude on the wheel of death, and we were mesmerized by the traveling carillon.  We saw fairies, and trolls, and acrobats and bagpipes.  And of course, we ate lots of yummy, greasy fair food. And I admit I did not research our costumes to make sure they were historically accurate.  I was more concerned that they were economical and available at our local Halloween store.  That being said, and at the risk of being hypocritical, I was amazed at the number of pirates, and specifically the swashbuckling red-coated Captain Hook style pirates, roaming around the Medieval Faire.  M-E-D-I-E-V-A-L.  Not a time period known for its buccaneers. Wheel of Death, Sarasota Medieval Faire DSC_0604 DSC_0564 Sarasota Medieval Faire, human chess, acrobats The other favorite attire was corsets.  I have to say that I am so glad we no longer wear corsets on a daily basis.  I never knew the female breast could be pushed, pinched, smashed, lifted, spread, shoved, and displayed in such a visual array.  There was even one woman who I swear had FOLDED her breasts into the tight corset.  There were literally lines running at a 45 degree angle from her armpit towards her nipples where the flesh was folded to the side and smashed into the tight constraints.  Sarasota Medieval Faire Fairies   Fairy; Sarasota Medieval FaireBut I digress. We ended up renewing our vows under a huge oak tree with a gentle breeze and a kind “bishop” who spoke with a heavy Scottish accent and nearly cracked us both up with his unexpected a capella rendition of “One Hand, One Heart”. 

Sarasota Medieval Faire; Vow Renewal

I am so thankful for the blessing of a happy, healthy marriage and a gallant and romantic Knight who will dress up in costume and publicly declare his love for me. 

Sarasota Medieval Faire; Vow Renewal

So yeah…..I signed up for another year.

Sarasota Medieval Faire, Vow Renewal