3 min read

10x Love

10x Love

At a restaurant in town the couple next to us finished their dinner and were preparing to leave. It was a small restaurant. Our tables were within arms reach. Earlier they had asked us about our maitake slider appetizer, so I did not think it rude to ask, "Is it your anniversary?"

Earlier in the evening I noticed the gentleman gave his partner a card. I was interested because it was my tenth wedding anniversary. The couple confirmed my guess and shared that they were celebrating their 55th milestone. Two couples honoring a marriage on the same day 45 years apart.

The man explained that the secret to reaching the 55th mark was to pick the perfect woman at the start. It was the right answer to say out loud, but not actionable.

I too prepared a card for my wife that evening. If I've learned nothing over the last ten years it is that she loves a good card. The inside of this one was packed full of small, black, inky writing.

I won't publish everything I wrote, but I will share that I re-wrote my original wedding vows by hand. The gist of my original vows was that the greatest promise I can make was to model myself as a husband after the examples of my dearest friends and family. I listed each of these role models and the attributes I promised to emulate.

I was not prepared for how incredible my wedding was. People had told me that their weddings were their happiest day. One can see photos of a total solar eclipse, but experiencing one first hand is a different matter. There is no frame of reference for the magnitude of the feeling of joy of everyone you love projecting optimism and happiness onto you and your new life partner. I could not have guessed just how high the peak of joy can go.

I had previous experience with joy, such as my sister's wedding. I danced down the aisle to Bohemian Rhapsody. Many of the loved ones at my wedding were in attendance and equally joyous. And yet, the order of magnitude of my feeling, still greater than nearly everyday of my life, was so much less than what I experienced during my own ceremony.

The best part of my wedding was reading my vows to my wife. I took out my goated iPhone 4s, opened a Google doc, and began to read. My emotion overflowed. Joy. Gratitude. Happiness. Earnestness. Sincerity. Optimism. Admiration. Love.

That moment will forever be a life raft in a stormy sea. It is something to hold on to for security when there is trouble. Marriage is hard. I had no notion of how good my wedding was going to be. I had no idea of how hard marriage was going to be.

Which is why ten years later, I sat at my desk with my favorite pen and opened that same Google doc. I rewrote the vows by hand. I have terrible hand writing. I hardly ever write anything by hand. But, it was important to write these words by hand.

In Judaism, the Torah is not printed. Every Torah in every synagogue is written by a scribe with a quill and ink, and only after the proper rites and rituals are observed. It is an act of sanctification.

My vows are sacred and so I wrote them by hand.

Unlike when a scribe writes a new Torah, I made a few changes to the tenth anniversary version. I added two vows to my list. Unlike my original vows, which were based on what I've learned from my loved ones, these amendments were what I've learned through ten years of marriage.

First, I promised to cherish the good times. I'm old enough to understand that the future holds dragons. There will be new challenges. Health will decline. There will be economic hardships. I wanted to promise to remember how good we have it right now and not take any of our future good fortune for granted.

Second, I promised to never stop learning how to be a better partner. This is kind of a wishing for more wishes vow, but they are my vows and I get to make the rules.

Reflecting on the last ten years, so much of my growth has been on understanding how to support my wife. I made a lot of rookie mistakes along the way, but now I'm a ten year veteran. Over the past ten years I've learned to not assume I'm normal. An acknowledgement that I do not yet know everything seems wise.

My dinner neighbor might have been right, though. Picking right at the start is crucial. Now it's time to work to continue to earn that choice.