Today is my 1 month wedding anniversary. Big day =D.
As promised, my wedding vows. The bolded parts were not read, and were instead included to help give each section its own individual significance, as it was orated.
(I was concerned they would mentally “run together”, which I thought would then bleed over to my verbal communication of them).
From the best within me, I declare absolute devotion to the following vows :
I vow to take joy in witnessing your existence every day, as much as I do my own.
I vow to earn your love, respect, and admiration each day – and to never deal in the unearned and undeserved.
I vow to live congruent to my deepest convictions; to always maintain my integrity, to never compromise on or sacrifice a higher value for a lower.
I vow to protect you, my self, and any family we may come to create together.
I vow to love, respect, and admire you until death, or life, do us part.
I vow to celebrate who I am and who you are – the entirety of our shared sense of life, and the totality of each person as an end in themselves.
I vow to never betray my self, you, or my mind.
I vow to always maintain my independence, and to always fully respect and encourage your own.
I vow to mindfully be who I am, now and always.
I vow to always love myself, and live the highest vision of my own life.
You’ve helped inspire me to not just take on the world and win, but to take on the entire universe, and win.
This is the most profound gift anyone has ever given me. As such, I vow to cherish both of us for the rest of our lives – no matter what.
With regards to timing, I started thinking about the vows seriously ~one month prior to the wedding. I began writing them by hand just over a week out. They were finished only a day before the wedding. My original plan was to have no one view them but me, but I decided after finishing them to have my best man listen to me speak them and then review the written version.
I made this change not for lack of certainty in ideas, but uncertainty about specific grammatical points, order the vows were presented in, and any redundancies that did not serve a purpose (and were therefore detracting from the quality of the vows overall).
Was very glad I had him look over them. I was able to shorten the vows by about 10 words, improve a few parts, and switched the order of select vows. These sound like minor tweaks, but details like this are everything, and I am deeply thankful that he took the time to review them with me and provide some input.
Moving on, the vows are completely selfish. Much of it does not even directly relate to or mention my wife. They are completely self-vows. And why is that? And why so many “I”s?
To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I’.
– Howard Roark
I wanted to say “I love you” in each vow, even if only as the conceptual foundation, and even if the vow only immediately pertained to my self. Because of this, I thought the vows sounded out of place or incomplete not beginning with their own I.
In addition, “to say the ‘I'”, means, to love the self. No love of another person is possible unless and until you love yourself first. Furthermore, it is not possible to love another person more than you love your self. All love is an act of self.
The degree to which you love your self is the measure by which you can love another human being. And the degree to which these vows impacted her, I knew, would be first determined by how they related to me first. Hence, every vow is an explicit act of self by beginning with I.
Long time readers may have seen this coming ;).
Regarding other people, no one on earth is in the vows themselves, except Marilee and I [and any yet to exist children we may one day have].
This was on purpose because I rejected the idea of anyone else being a part of my vows — much the same, we both detest the idea of government or religious institutions being a part of our marriage.
Our love is absolutely selfish and conditional.
Above all, it is conditional on each person being who they are and who they present themselves to be; the fully human Anthony and Marilee. I felt it was especially important then, to enter into the vows, the premise that I am who I am, that I will never betray this conviction, and that I will maintain the self that she fell in love with forever.
Maintain and love my self for my self first, and for her second.
Because I cannot love her without loving myself first, nor can she love a man who does not love him self.
The entire marriage as I saw it and continue to see it, is impossible without these foundations.
I included “mindfully” in the second to last vow because in a sense, it is not possible to not be who you are. It is possible to be less than human though, and it is also possible to stagnate and not continue actualizing the greatest and highest vision of my self into reality.
Mindfully I thought, took care of that quite well, and made clear my convictions and intentions.
Till Death or Life Do Us Part
I first heard Nathaniel Branden say this here. I absolutely loved it, because it is true. I completely expect Marilee to leave me if it ever became clear that I had irreversibly become less than the man she married. That I had fundamentally betrayed my self or her.
The same is true inversely. Out of respect for my self and for the woman Marilee once was, I would never stay married to her should she violate the conditions of our love, the condition above all that she was fundamentally the person I fell in love with.
I know in my mind that I will never commit this treason, but no one can know that knowledge with complete certainty except me. And I would never ask Marilee to take me on faith.
The same is true for her, that she will always have greater certainty over the convictions of her own mind than I do, regardless of how mature our love becomes. No matter how strong our love, I am not her, she is not me, and we will always be individuals with individual minds.
Therefore, even though I am convinced death is much more likely to do us part, life itself is still a possibility, and I chose to openly acknowledge that, rather than shy from it.
One More Thing …
Marilee agreed, but was initially uncomfortable with the life do us part bit. Because it could be implied, it did not need to be spoken. I disagreed and thought it was vitally important to include given the state of marriage and western civilization.
Because of this discomfort though, I chose to end the vows with something that involved her and was permanent. Something I could sustain for a life time, no matter what. Something that was based on history that could not change and was irreversible.
And that was the realization that the answer to “Who is going to stop me?”, is no one. I’ve known this for a long time … but she has made it abundantly clear to me. More clear than it ever was to me before our relationship, and I think, may have ever been on my own.
She did this by making my ego grow to epic proportions, and I am a better man because of it, forever.
After some research, I came across the word cherish. I believe I made the right choice.