Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Good Times and Bad

I talk to my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders about how each of us has multiple urges to do things that often conflict with each other. In an attempt to simplify the concept for 6, 7, and 8 year-olds, I try to talk about it in terms of one voice that tells us to make choices that bring us up and another voice that tells us to make choices that bring us down.

One of Matt's family members just died, and I almost listened to the voice that was advising me to bring myself down.

You see, I was really looking forward to this weekend. I've had a tremendously stressful week (and year, for that matter), and I was eager to run, walk through the forest, get ahead on my work, do yoga, read, cook good food, finish my chores--you know--get my act together.

As Matt got updates from his family about the situation, I kept asking, "Do you want me to go with you to the funeral?" He kept saying that neither he nor his family thought it was necessary for me to be there.

When I woke up Saturday morning, Matt said he had just booked his flight to Indiana. He needed to leave within the hour. Again, I tried to be a good partner by asking, "Should I go to support you and your family?" He kept insisting that it wasn't necessary.

I almost listened to him. I wanted to listen to him. I wanted to be off the hook. I wanted to make the argument that it's too complicated to find dog care for four days in an hour. I wanted to believe that it was too expensive to spend $1,000 on two last-minute plane tickets. I wanted to think that it was impossible to coordinate a substitute for my class for two days of missed instruction.

And then I listened to the voice that urges me to make choices aligned with what I value. I value family and being there for each other and dropping everything to show your love, to provide a shoulder, to hold a hand. Those things are way more important than a relaxing weekend.

These are the commitments we make to our partners and our family members and our friends. I am there for you. I am your person.

Our wedding vows come to mind:

  • Matt, I love you because you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis, like when you come up with alternate names for our dog, Hoss, such as Hoss-tage, Hoss of Pain, or Hoss-car Myer Weiner.
  • I love you because you challenge me to be a better person, like when you made me promise to tell the Penske truck people that we scraped the moving van.
  • I love you because we create adventures together, like Halloween scavenger hunts or road trips out West.
  • I love you because you care so much for other people that you inspire all of us to be more caring. You do things like put toothpaste on my toothbrush and leave it out for me, or come home on the worst day of winter with slippers and a Chia pet herb garden.
  • I love you because I smile every time I wake up to you and when I come home to you. We play together, brainstorm together, create together, read together. Your hand always feels comfortable in mine.

Matt, because I love you, I promise to treat you the way you want to be treated and with the respect you deserve. I promise to build trust with my words and actions. I will be your cheerleader, your nurse, your editor, your therapist, your teacher, your student, and your partner in adventure. I will deeply appreciate all of your positive qualities and not let the passage of time dull that appreciation. When life challenges us, I promise to focus on the resiliency of our love. And if I stumble and fail to live up to my promises, I will look you in the eyes, hold your hands, and apologize with sincerity. I will be my best for you.

Yes, I will be my best for you, Matt, even when I am instinctively selfish and self-centered. I will always try to be my best for you.

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Gillian said...

Amazing. Thanks for sharing this story with us. It's so true that the test of love is helping out our significant other when it's not convenient or easy to do so.

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful post, Sarah.

Cupcake Wedding said...

The way I knew my guy was a keeper was when he dropped everything to go home with me twice within eight months for the funerals of two of my family elders.

Princess Christy said...

I'm glad you didn't listen to him.... we all need someone to be there for us. I'm glad you found your keeper - and keep being his keeper!

Kara said...

Oh, wow. Such a lovely post and so inspiring. Sometimes it's really hard to remember to be a great partner...I think we can all use these happy little reminders :)

Hope he's doing okay with the family's loss. Happy thoughts heading your way.

"T-Bone" Lee said...

trying not to get all choked up!!

what perfect vows. I hope when it comes time to write my own that I can be as eloquent with my feelings as you were.

i'm sorry to hear about the loss of your family member...I think you made the right choice to go and support you husband.

A Los Angeles Love said...

Oh yes, this was beautiful and real. It's the hard stuff that matters most. Being self-centered is normal, it's learning not to act on it that makes partnership thrive and support us both.

Unknown said...

This is so true. I had a death in the family last week, and told my husband not to come home with me, there was nothing he could do, he would just be bored, etc., etc. He told me he was coming, that was that. I leaned on him, and he supported me and my family, more in the last week than I ever thought I would need or he could provide. This is what marriage is about. The fun stuff is easy. The hard part is the real thing.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this, I often need to remember and be told by people outside my 'world of two' that even if he says, "no, it's ok, you stay home, I'll go and be home after the weekend," that I need to go.

Rachael Eisner said...

Props to you for realizing even at the last minute that he needed you, even though he didn't know it at that moment. I tried to talk mine out of going to one recently, and it wasn't until I had to sing for the dang thing that I realized I needed him there.

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