So we're married now.
Sometimes I look down at my ring and I can't believe it really happened, that we get to call each other "wives" for real. But about 200 people will attest that it did happen, people who traveled from such faraway lands as Prince Rupert and Washington, DC and Alabama to witness our vows, friends and family who poured time and energy into making that day meaningful for us. Their tangible love for us was almost as overwhelming as our love for one another.
(For more details about that incredible night, check out Jane's blog - she was our officiant.)
I am fully aware of how cliche it is to say this: since getting married, nothing has changed, and everything has changed.
We still live together, as we have for nine years, though now it's just the two of us. We are still our same ridiculous selves with each other. I still make her coffee in the morning. She still makes playlists for me. We laugh and argue and cook together.
But something is different. (And it's not just the fact that we get to have sex now, which, let's be honest, is where our minds tend to go after Christians get married.)
It's hard to describe the difference, but I feel like trying to do so here.
We're more settled now. More secure. More... solid.
*begin nerdy statement*
You know when those people on Star Trek are in the middle of getting beamed down to a planet, or back up to the ship? It's like Danice and I have been on those transporter pads, but we've been on them for years, years in that grainy, half-assembled state, fuzzy on the edges, not sure how our pieces will come together, or whether some kind of malfunction will result in total disintegration. It's rather exhausting.
Getting married is like finally materializing. Now we can step off those circles and get down to business. Boldly go where no man has gone before, and what not.
*end nerdy statement*
Let me try a less nerdy image... By making those vows to one another, Danice and I have, in the words of my wise little sister Rachel, "closed the back door to our relationship." There is no leaving this home we have made in one another. There is no sneaking out in the middle of the night after a shouting match. We get to settle into each other, because we are held together, held accountable, held responsible for one another.
This is no trivial thing. Already I have felt the vows we made weigh heavily on me, and I am sure those words will press down on us and demand even more from us as we face challenges together. Words like "fail" and "humble myself" and "lay down" and "accept help" and especially "forgive."
But I have been surprised to also find so much lightness, so much openness since speaking these vows. I figure that when you make a decision, or a vow, it both creates limits and removes limits. You are cut off from all other options you once had, but you are also set free to more fully pursue the option you've chosen. And now that I've chosen Danice for life, and she me, we don't have to hold anything back anymore. For sure, love is still a risk - we can still hurt each other more deeply than anyone else could - but we choose to take the risk. After nine years of waiting with self-imposed limits to our love, this new-found freedom is sweet.
If you're not already sick of all this talk of love, below I've posted the vows we somehow managed to get through, though Danice kept herself together better than I did. We cobbled them together from all sorts of ideas and sources. Hold me to them, will you?
For nine years I have known you,
and I love what I know of you,
but there is so much about you I have yet to learn.
With hope and faith, I take this next step with you into the unknown.
Before God and these friends and family
I make these vows...
I will love you above all others.
I will bear witness to your life.
I will take care of you.
I will lay down my ego and listen to you.
I will humble myself to accept your help.
I will dance with you in good times;
I will cry with you in hard times.
I will keep you sane and I will keep you crazy.
When I fail and break my promises, I will eventually admit it and ask for forgiveness.
When you fail and break your promises, I will forgive you.
Though the world will change and we will change, I will stay with you.
God-willing, I will grow old with you and watch every one of your hairs turn silver.
(Danice said "white" instead of "silver," because evidently redheads go straight to white.)
I do not and cannot ever deserve you,
but I gratefully accept you as a gift from God.
I choose to love you, today and every day,
for as long as we both live.